If your automobile engineer decides to change a component in your vehicle, you would know the changed component used based on its markings. Assuming you think the part is flawed and you activate product recall, the component manufacturer can also know about the history of the component and whether your claim is valid. Knowing about the history and location of the parts used is possible via traceability, a system that manufacturers now incorporate into their manufacturing process.
Traceability is in virtually every product-making sector due to its benefits. Consequently, many manufacturing companies now incorporate it. This article will introduce the system and its importance in the manufacturing world.
What is Traceability System?
Traceability is a system incorporated in the product dealing sectors that makes it possible to locate components during the manufacturing process and know the history of manufactured products in the distribution stage. In the manufacturing world, manufacturers now incorporate the process into the manufacturing and distribution cycles.
How To Achieve Traceability?
You can achieve manufacturing traceability by keeping track of all your raw materials and finished goods and any related to handling the products during the manufacturing and distribution process.
There are two types of tracking: lot number tracking and serial number tracking used for raw materials, operators, machines, and manufactured components in and out of the manufacturing plant. To achieve this, you need a reliable marking system on the materials.
· Lot Number Tracking
Lot number tracking is suitable for batches of raw materials, with each lot assigned a lot number based on your discretion. On assigning the lot number, each lot is recorded in terms of the product used to make. Therefore, when you become aware of issues with raw materials, you will be able to identify the problematic raw material. Also, if any problem occurs due to the raw materials, you will be able to know the product affected.
· Serial Number Tracking
For individual tracking of parts manufactured, serial number tracking is the best. Serial number marking involves assigning a serial number to the individual items using any marking system leading to a clear overview of the status, location, and history to trace specific products.
As it is likely a batch coding process, ensure to choose the right marking machine. It is easier to manage returns and repairs more effectively with serial number tracking.
Quality inspections are essential for properly checking the quality of the raw materials and manufactured components. Quality inspection occurs at every manufacturing stage, and the results are stored using a lot and/or serial number information.
Using the result, manufacturers point out errors in raw materials, manufacturing problems in their facility, and customer influence on the manufactured part.
You can also establish traceability in your distribution cycle to a certain point. Consequently, you will be able to minimize the chance of errors and use concrete data to communicate to your partners about inconsistencies that can be attributed to them.
Using Traceability Software
Achieving traceability is a lot of work. For example, organizing the information is deemed time-consuming, and most manufacturers don’t have the resources to achieve full traceability. This problem is near nonexistent when using traceability software.
Traceability software ensures better transparency during and after production. This traceability software allows stock lot or serial number tracking, barcoding, quality inspection management, and other inventory control methods. Consequently, you can plan out and schedule production efficiently.
Traceability consists of two components: tracking and tracing.
Tracing creates the history of the part movement in the supply chain, whether as a single unit or a batch. Consequently, manufacturers can know about the movements forward and the customers about its origin.
Tracking allows manufacturers to pinpoint the destination at a particular point in time. Therefore, it becomes easy to follow its path from manufacturing to the point of use. The tracking applies to both singular and batch.
Both components are two sides of the same coin. Tracing looks at a product’s origin while tracking looks forward to its destination.
Why is Traceability So Important?
Many manufacturing companies now incorporate traceability into their manufacturing and distribution process to maximize its benefits. Below are a few reasons why a well-designed traceability system is important in your manufacturing and distribution process:
· Easy Identification of Potential Problems
Traceability allows easy identification of potential problems of a product during the manufacturing stage. Therefore, manufacturers can predict and isolate the cause of a problem before the part enters the distribution cycle.
Easy identification of potential problems will reduce the horror stories of part failures that can lead to product recall and the cost of such failures.
· Continuous Improvement
The modern organization is lean, agile, and flexible. Traceability encourages the adoption of a lean manufacturing process that minimizes waste and encourages serial improvement. Also, with greater control over the manufacturing process, organizations can better understand what makes their products unique or successful and optimize those aspects.
· Get Ahead of Your Competitors
Manufacturing companies that build the infrastructure for complete traceability are at a competitive advantage as the entire lifecycle of each part is visible, it is easy to spot production issues or trends and make proactive improvements
· Transparency And Accountability Throughout Supply Chains
Compete manufacturing traceability ensure transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. With direct part marking, you have a trail of its history, components, quality, and product safety. This shows that the product meets certain standards or complies with industry regulations. With the increase in globalization, traceability helps reduce the risk of disaster while maintaining global supply, manufacturing, and distribution chains.
· Reducing Counterfeiting Costs
Counterfeit products are a problem for both manufacturers and customers. Manufacturers lose money and reputation. Also, their jobs are at risk while customers become exposed to unsafe and below standard parts, putting them at high risk.
Deep part marking allows you to prevent counterfeiting to a level. Some people resort to serial number marking; however, this might not be enough evidence of the increase in the skill of counterfeiters. You can avoid this by introducing the following into your anti-counterfeiting procedure:
Introducing a barcode or 2D data matrix that links the product to your production data will enable basic part traceability. You can also introduce covert marks to prevent further copying of the markings and protect your company. Therefore, any missing data on a barcode can quickly identify non-authentic products.
· Regulate Product Recalls
Product recalls are an integral part of every industry. When not properly handled, it can be calamitous. However, with complete part traceability, you can protect your company.
Complete traceability of a product will leave a permanent paper trail. Consequently, manufacturers have evidence of whether their parts comply with safety and quality standards. Therefore, this can reduce the scope of a recall.
· Increasing Industry Regulations
In a global marketplace where counterfeiting and recalls are rising, there is a greater need for modernized manufacturing regulations to improve value chain traceability. These standards help advance safety, quality, and sustainability while protecting from counterfeiting threats worldwide.
Marking System for Traceability
Complete traceability involves marking the components/manufactured parts with a unique identifier (UID). This makes it possible to read and track it at the soonest possible moment in the manufacturing and distribution process. Complete traceability is achievable with direct part marking.
Types of Marking Systems You Can Consider
Marking is possible via many marking processes, each with its machines. You can work with a marking service to decide on the best marking process for your material, application, budget, and manufacturing environment. Two types of marking systems you can consider are:
· Laser Marking System
Laser marking is a procedure known for its high efficiency and the ability to produce permanent marking. It involves marking a product by focusing a laser beam from a laser marking machine on its surface.
The end product depends on the laser marking method you use. Common laser marking methods you can use are laser engraving, annealing, ablation, etching, and foaming.
Also, there are different machine types, each running on different technology. Common ones include fiber laser marking machines, CO2, UV, and green laser markers.
· Dot Marking System
The dot marking system creates the UID by marking the surface using a stylus or pin. The stylus creates the indentation/marking either pneumatically. The dot marking system is suitable for deep permanent markings and is majorly used for sturdy materials.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Marking System
For effective marking of the UID need for traceability, you need a marking process that can deliver permanent marks. This is important because the parts will likely be used in severe environmental conditions or repeatedly used. Another factor you should consider is repeatability, as complete readability in manufacturing is related to batch coding. Therefore, the machine must support batch coding, such as the laser coding machines.
Other factors you should consider are:
- The machine should be accurate and precise
- The process and machine should be compatible with the materials
- The process should be efficient
- It should support batch coding.
Currently, manufacturers have introduced traceability into their manufacturing process to reduce product recalls and counterfeiting costs amidst many advantages. One major way to ensure traceability is by marking your products with a UID during the manufacturing process.
Marking your product can be by many marking systems. Common ones include laser marking, dot peening marking, and inkjet marking. Each one has its perks and disadvantages. Consequently, it would be best if you had an extra hand on how to mark your product efficiently and effectively. Contact us at HeatSign to have the best right marking machine for your project or use our expert services.
(Last Updated On: May 4, 2022)
What does material traceability mean?
Material traceability is a process that ensures every component s in the manufacturing process has a record dating to the production table.
What are the two perspectives when it comes to product traceability?
The two perspectives on product traceability are chain traceability and internal traceability. Chain traceability allows a manufacturer to track products from manufacturers to the consumer (forward or backward), while internal traceability involves monitoring one specific manufacturing plant.
Why is product traceability in manufacturing important to implement?
Product traceability in manufacturing is important as a batch of faulty products that enter the market can lead to the following:
- Driveaway customers
- Damage your brand
- Hurt your bottom line
- Undo all your hard work