Automated Visual Inspection in the Age of Covid-19

The pandemic has accelerated the move away from manual inspection

The United States faced a growing labor shortage in manufacturing before the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the nation. While many manufacturers have been deemed essential, many of their employees fear going  back to work until a vaccine is widely available. Unfortunately, medical authorities are predicting that healthy people may not have access to a vaccine until 2022. 

Deloitte’s 2018 manufacturing survey projects that 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs will be needed in the coming decade, but that only about 2.1 million will be filled by  qualified candidates – leaving a shortage of 2.5 positions. The shortage will be even more critical in quality assurance and inspection. These positions require advanced skills and dedication beyond many factory workers. Even with the most skilled inspectors, unacceptable error rates are a fact of life. 

Over the last thirty years, there has been a growing acceptance that human visual inspection is ineffective for technical, psychological, organizational, workplace environment, and social reasons. Drury, Karawanu and Vanderwarker suggest that inspection error rates may range from 20% to 30%.2   Regardless of the dedication, humans have major detection limitations versus machine vision.  The human eye cannot make precise measurements. This is especially true for very tiny items. When comparing two similar objects, the human eye struggles to notice that one is slightly larger or smaller than the other. This issue also applies to size, surface roughness,  and other factors that need to be inspected. The chart below from Nanonets highlights the major limitations in human vision. 3

scope of machine vision with respect to visible spectrum

Beyond the limitations of manual/human visual inspection, there is also a cost factor.  Ohno and Shingo  pioneered Lean at Toyota in the 1960s,  advocating building quality into products over adding layers of inspection, some inspection will be needed for the foreseeable future.  According to Glassdoor, quality inspector salaries average about $38,000 per year. Adding 15% for benefits and the need to cover three shifts, manual inspection can total over $130,000 per year. 

Because of the systemic and growing problems with manual visual inspection, automated visual inspection is growing in its acceptance. The chart below demonstrates the diversity of industries applying machine vision to their operations.

Breakdown of Visual Inspection in Industries pie chart

The good news is that Overview’s machine vision technology provides image-based automatic inspection to details and defects for any type of serial production process.  Overview’s automated vision surpasses human vision at both a qualitative and quantitative level because of its speed, accuracy, and repeatability. It easily assesses object details too small to be seen by the human eye and inspect them with much greater reliability than manual methods. Overview uses deep learning algorithms that can accommodate more variability than traditional vision systems and be cost effective on a greater variety of parts and products. Unlike manual inspection, Overview’s solution never takes a break, or takes its eye off the action. It can also inspect parts that are moving at much faster speeds than human inspectors can. 



Automated visual inspection can overcome the limitations of human inspection and do it at a lower cost and more quickly  than traditional manual methods. The cost of deep learning and machine vision will continue to drop while its effectiveness grows – Moore’s Law is alive and well.  Given the growing labor shortage that has been aggravated by Covid-19, it makes sense to try Overview’s automated visual inspection solution.  It is easy to get started with a risk-free Proof of Concept in which you can see results in as little as seven weeks.


  2. Drury C.G., Sinclair M.A., Human and machine performance in an inspection task. Human Factors, 25, 391–399, 1983.



Anthony Tarantino, PhD

Six Sigma Master Black Belt, CPIM, CPM

Adjunct Professor, Santa Clara University

Senior Advisor to Overview

Russell Nibbelink Overview Co-founder

Russell Nibbelink

Co-founder & Head of Engineering

Russell Nibbelink is the head of engineering and a co-founder at Overview. At Overview, he leads the team that helps customers implement cutting-edge, high-speed deep learning algorithms to reduce manufacturing waste and defective parts. 

Before joining Overview, Russell was a software engineer at Salesforce, where he worked on web-scale infrastructure projects. His many accomplishments at Salesforce include the migration of Salesforce’s largest customers to upgraded hardware with no downtime, live database change record ingestion, and the creation of visibility tooling for calculating data throughput rates.

Russell received his Bachelor of Science from the University of California Berkeley College of Engineering, where he was also the head teaching assistant in the field of High Performance Computing.

Chris Van Dyke Overview CEO

Chris Van Dyke

Co-founder & CEO

Chris Van Dyke is the CEO and co-founder of Overview. He is responsible for the company’s strategic direction, corporate development, sales and marketing. With over 16 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise, Chris focuses on optimizing customer’s manufacturing operations using artificial intelligence and computer vision to accelerate product development, reduce rework, and improve yields. Since founding Overview in 2018, Chris has been instrumental in building a company and team dedicated to a disruptive, positive impact on manufacturing for decades to come. 

Before Overview, Chris served in several senior manufacturing engineering positions at Tesla for eight years. For Tesla’s Model 3, he led the 80-person battery design team from the initial battery concept to the product launch to the high-volume production. He also managed the infrastructure and equipment design for the first Gigafactory, including equipment for supporting battery cell manufacturing. Chris also launched Tesla’s Electric Vehicle Supercharger Program, with more than 25,000 stations worldwide. 

Prior to Tesla, Chris was a senior engineer at H2Gen Innovations, during which time he co-authored multiple patents. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Austin Appel

Co-founder & Head of Product

Austin Appel is the head of product and a co-founder at Overview, where he is responsible for leading product development and operations. With over 8 years of experience in manufacturing and systems engineering, Austin works with customers to ensure that manufacturing operations can quickly adopt and use artificial intelligence-based computer vision systems.

Before Overview, Austin spent four years at Tesla in various capacities, including battery manufacturing, and research and development (R&D). He led the design for manufacturability (DFM) and automation efforts for the Model 3 battery pack production at Tesla’s first Gigafactory. Earlier at Tesla, he expanded the production of Model S and X battery packs through equipment design and implementation.

Austin holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University.