Today, the relationship between OEMs in the automotive industry
and suppliers can be complicated, to say the least. Each year, warranties and recalls cost OEMs and suppliers billions of dollars. In fact, according to Stout 2017 Automotive Warranty & Recall Report, U.S.-based OEMs and suppliers, including wheel and airbag manufacturers, reported warranty and recall accruals of $10.3 billion.
Some experts say that one of the main reasons for the increase has been the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, implemented in November, 2000 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
. This regulation required vehicle and equipment manufacturers to report periodically to NHSTA in an effort to proactively identify potential safety defects and other concerns to protect drivers. Those companies that fail to follow the “early warning” requirements can find themselves facing criminal liability.
As the government came down on automakers, big automotive brands like Ford and GM came down on their suppliers. The increased scrutiny has resulted in several changes to how OEMs negotiate supplier agreements. These include lower failure tolerances, more aggressive warranty and recall cost assignments, and complete vehicle part traceability requirements.
For wheel manufacturers, the TREAD Act regulations offer a unique challenge: Effectively marking parts with a unique identifier in accordance with TREAD Act regulations, while still fulfilling your need to continually improve operational efficiency.
If you’re a wheel manufacturer, this means the pressure is on.
However, implementing a track and trace solution can save you time and money if you understand the critical components of a permanent wheel marking system.
The Track and Trace Solution for Wheels
Permanent marking systems allow wheel manufacturers to create a clear and visible line of accountability, helping to mitigate risk. There are three must-haves for any track and trace system:
Create a permanent barcode.
Marking parts with a barcode that contains information such as part and model number makes parts easier to identify in the future for replacement or repair. Laser and dot peen marking technology offer a permanent solution that can withstand a lifetime of wear and tear because the marks won’t erode or deteriorate over time.
And, with marking systems that can communicate directly with the shop floor, you can automate processes and connect to a database. This enables efficiency as well as the cradle-to-grave traceability that automakers demand.
Ensure mark repeatability.
This lifetime traceability requires a permanent marking system that integrates with your existing manufacturing processes. Smart laser technology can adapt to your needs to provide highly repeatable marking placement, even in high-volume manufacturing environments, using pneumatic grippers or fixtures to brace the wheel.
An engineered fiber laser marking solution can ensure a higher quality mark with greater readability of the barcode, especially when you utilize automatic re-marking of failed parts.
Offer flexibility and quick setup.
How can you create consistent and readable marks when you’re producing wheels of different sizes? Using a laser marking system designed to automatically detect wheel type helps you avoid the time-draining changeover of equipment from product to product. This can be done with laser displacement sensors to verify the position and wheel type to ensure proper mark positioning. Custom GUI’s can also make job setup much easier for the operators. Making the process flexible allows wheel manufacturers to maximize productivity and decrease waste.
Wheel manufacturers can meet traceability standards without sacrificing efficiency. Selecting the right marking technology and integrating it with your current system will help you avoid warranty- and recall-associated liability risk while meeting your productivity goals.
Have a question as to how to best mark your part or improve your traceability? Talk to an expert at MECCO today.