Traceability in Automotive: What decision-makers and experts should look out for now
Published on 2022-05-23 13:14:32 UTC in Flexible Manufacturing
From e-mobility to autonomous driving, from skills shortages to digitalization: The automotive industry is undergoing a profound change, marked, for example, by a shift to globalized platforms and standardized vehicle architectures. On the one hand, production is becoming increasingly efficient, but on the other, even a single faulty part can have more far-reaching effects than ever before. Faced with costly recalls, automotive manufacturers are confronted with increasingly complex requirements and stricter specifications. Is the effort of traceability worth it if it means labeling up to 20,000 parts per vehicle? Yes, it is, but powerful reading and verification technologies along with powerful software is needed to make sense of all the data.
There are several reasons why manufacturers need to keep accurate records of the parts and components that make up a new car. From a quality perspective, for example, barcode tracking helps to ensure that the right parts are put together. Even more important, however, is the ability to trace each car part back to its original supplier. In the event of a recall or the discovery of a faulty part, manufacturers have to be able to quickly and comprehensively find out where each part came from. This is complemented by information such as batch number, date of manufacture and other important information to identify which vehicles are affected by a defective part. Recommendations and standards from AIAG, VDA, ANSI and ISO specify the details. As the automotive industry globalizes, worldwide production of light vehicles is expected to reach around 96 million units by 2023. This means that even a single faulty part can have an enormous impact, and therefore must be prevented at all costs.
So why is traceability important?
- Traceability minimizes counterfeiting because genuine parts can be traced back to their origin.
- Streamlining the manufacturing process with direct part identification, labels or RFID tags , as real-time traceability systems transmit process information along all tiers of the manufacturing process enabling supply chain optimization and reduced lead times. They monitor and compare production lines, providing the data needed to find out which production steps are taking longer than expected and the reasons why.
- Some manufacturers spread the cost of manufacturing equipment and product development over a broader production base, especially in large corporations. The downside: a single faulty – or counterfeit – component can have a huge impact. Reliable traceability systems are therefore more important than ever before. The large supplier system created by the globally standardized architecture requires real-time visibility so that problems can be fixed quickly before they affect millions of new cars entering the market.
Compact barcode readers neededBarcodes help guarantee that every part carries a unique identifier with it wherever it goes. This is usually a direct part marking (DPM), etched or printed directly on the part itself. Amongst the key pieces of data encoded for traceability purposes in the automotive industry are information such as part, serial, lot or model number. Other information that could be encoded in barcodes are source manufacturer, place of origin, production time and date, expiration date, manufacturing or assembly facility, components used in assembly and / or software version.
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Conclusion: Traceability integral part of modern production
Traceability systems provide a way to put process changes in context and analyze the effects they have on the quality of the resulting product. They help identify risks, reduce their impact, and generally maintain a state of constant vigilance.. Although traceability may seem complex, its underlying structure is relatively simple. By affixing unique barcodes to works-in-progress and scanning these codes throughout the assembly process, manufacturers can gather and store significant amounts of data on the whereabouts and history of each item at each point in time.
Automotive manufacturers are currently facing a variety of pressing and complex challenges that require comprehensive and reliable documentation and traceability. To be future-proof and competitive, companies therefore need powerful automation and robotics solutions paired with smart and integrated traceability solutions such as laser markers, barcode readers, barcode verifiers and controllers that can capture and analyze data without interfering with production.
OMRON’s portfolio of traceability solutionsOMRON’s global portfolio of traceability products and solutions is integrated, intelligent, and interactive. The company’s complete automation platform features programmable logic controllers, motion controllers, machine vision systems, safety technology, and robotics to facilitate a complete traceability solution for data management, inspection, and material handling. The IoT enabled devices communicate data seamlessly with each other and across multiple data layers within an organization (MES or ERP). Further information: http://industrial.omron.eu.
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