Manufacturing has never been a walk in the park, but today more and more manufacturers tell me they’re thinking of it as a risky business. Let’s look at some of the reasons, and what we can do about them.
First, there’s the impact of counterfeiting and diversion (C&D):
At the same time, recalls and warranty claims are escalating:
Meanwhile, manufacturers contend with across-the-board dysfunctions like:
Fortunately, there’s a proven, wide-spectrum remedy for these risky disorders: Traceability in the IIoT, the industrial internet of things.
Our process for putting IIoT traceability to work for you is built around four well-tested phases:
Marking technology can display all kinds of useful information — part number, lot number, and manufacturing date, for example. But, for IIoT traceability, only serialization is mission-critical, because the mark is just a “license plate” that connects the part to a database where all the details reside. Once you define the information to be coded, we’ll help your team decide which format — 1D linear barcode or 2D matrix code — will best display it.
Once you define the part’s critical information and choose a barcode format, it’s time to settle on a marking technology. One broad class of technologies is direct marking, which engraves or stamps the mark into the surface of the part. Direct marking is durable and permanent; it won’t wash or peel off in harsh environments. Laser marking and pin marking are the leading direct marking technologies. (RELATED: "Choosing the Right Marking Technology")
Indirect marking is an effective option for displaying part information via surface ink, labels or tags, when permanence or long product life are less critical.
So far, we’ve identified the part, specified its critical information, and selected the appropriate marking technology. Next, we’ll mark a part, then scan it at critical points in your process.
At this point, it might be tempting to conclude, “The part is identified. Mission accomplished.”
But, in reality, things are just starting to get interesting. Finally, the component is digitally connected to the subassembly, the major assembly, and the final assembly, to achieve complete component traceability. Now you can think in terms of the Connected Enterprise. And that’s what it’s all about.
Now you’re positioned to fight back against counterfeiting and diversion, unnecessary recalls and warranty claims, and obstructions like process mistakes, defects shipped, late deliveries, inventory shortages, liabilities and inadequate data. You’re in control as never before.
It boils down to this: When someone asked a traceability guru I know how he calculates ROI for traceability solutions, he answered, "We stopped doing those calculations years ago. The cost savings always have lots of zeros in them … and at least two commas."
That’s the impact and the power of traceability in the IIoT.
Adapted from a presentation delivered at the 2018 International Manufacturing Technology Show.