• News
  • People
  • Long Read
  • Opinion
  • Weekend Wrap


Mapvision revs up ambitions for global expansion

“Parts inspected by us can be found in a large group of the most well-known car brands, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Ford and Volvo.”Pexels

A Finnish technology company is transforming quality control in the automotive industry by making it digital, cost-effective and fast.

Whichever car brand you prefer, the chances are some of its parts have been quality checked with Finnish technology. The in-line inspection system of Helsinki-based Mapvision is used by car giants such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler and car part suppliers Gestamp and Magna to ensure the body and chassis components leaving their factories meet the highest requirements.

“At the core of our operations is photogrammetry,” explains Lasse Paakkola, marketing and communications director at Mapvision. “We build photography-based inspection systems for measuring the geometry of car components. Our technology is unique globally and in the automotive industry we have found an application area where it really stands out from competition.”

Typically, car components are inspected using sampling, where every thousand-or so-parts are taken to a laboratory for testing, but Mapvision brings digital inspection onto the production line itself. Its ‘Quality Gate’ system is placed at the end of the line and it photographs every single component to measure everything is the right shape and size.

This means any anomalies are detected early, reducing the risk of costly errors later in the production process.

Inspect everything for everything

Mapvision’s multi-camera technology stems from the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT where it was developed until 1987, when Mapvision was formed to commercialise the technology.

The first applications were across a range of industries, from shipbuilding to jet fighter wings, but since Mapvision introduced the Quality Gate in 2008 the automotive industry has been the company’s main focus.

And with good reason. Paakkola describes the automotive industry as the largest manufacturing industry in the world.

Mapvision’s Quality Gate system can measure complex welded car components within the production line’s typical cycle time of 30 seconds. Image: Mapvision

While there are some competing systems, Mapvision says they are not a match for its technology which allows each car component to be inspected without slowing down the production cycle.

“We talk about 100 per cent in-line measurement; we can measure everything needed from all components produced,” says Paakkola. “We are faster than any other system and our accuracy is on a par with laboratory measurements. Our customers have always had the need to measure all of their components, but it has not previously been possible.”

Think bigger

While Mapvision has found its feet firmly on the car manufacturing market, it is only at the first stage of its master plan to ‘conquer the world’. The 50-employee strong company has established itself in China, Germany (which it describes as its home market) and the US, and is now working to strengthen its presence in Asia.

These plans were boosted in June 2016 when Mapvision sold a minority share to Japanese metrology company Mitutoyo. Mapvision believes a local partner will help open doors to the famously challenging Japanese market, as well to other big car manufacturing countries in Asia.

“We are a growth company and growth companies need funding. We are constantly investing in the future and product development,” explains Paakkola. “One of the reasons we wanted to work with Mitutoyo is that we want to have a strong presence in Asia and good access to those markets.”

The long term goal for Mapvision is to expand from measuring components to entire car bodies. While this is still in the development, the company believes demand for in-line measuring will only grow in the automotive industry.

“We want to be the number one globally in this kind of measuring,” Paakkola concludes. “It is a completely realistic goal; we just need to do the right things and do them well.”

Mapvision’s in-line system enables car body and chassis parts to be digitally inspected and measured on the production line, making quality control fast and cost-effective. Image: Mapvision
By: Eeva Haaramo