In the last blog we discussed the different reasons for product recalls in the automotive industry and how the technology solutions like track and trace enable manufacturers to store and analyse real time production data all the way from raw material receiving to the final shipping stage.
Tracking refers to the function of digitally storing all critical manufacturing, operational and material data and associating this data to either the batch identifier or serial number of the sub-assembly or finished good that was created; while Tracing refers to the reverse path: given a finished serialized product, being able to retrieve all such data related to all work stages. This is also referred to as backward and forward genealogy.
Barcodes and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) are two commonly used technologies to give unique identifier to the product/component. Once identifiers are applied to the product/component, all events and production data related to that product/component, will be captured in real time by scanning the identifier through readers or mobile devices. All this captured information is then stored in a database for retrieval as needed.
This information is most efficiently and more completely gathered through automated transactions from shop floor workers and machines to tie lot numbers, serial numbers and process and quality data to the finished good. Not only is it gathered more effectively and efficiently; it is retrievable within seconds; as compared to the hours or days it might take to track down associated products that may need to be recalled.
Track and trace solution is not just helping manufacturers to minimize total product recalls but also helping companies in the regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, medical devices etc. to stay compliant to the regulatory obligations. It is helping discrete manufactures in detecting defects and also identifying the underlying cause.
In today’s world where customer demands change rapidly and there is a strong need for agile manufacturing, track and trace solution actually paves the path to process excellence for the manufactures.
How B-WI helped a leading furniture manufacturer to track & trace an important component in the finished good thereby meeting an industry regulatory requirement and in turn realized the following benefits...
- Compliance with regulatory requirements
- Reduced the time to complete mock audits by 40%
- Reduced the amount of units to be recalled, if needed by more than 90%
- Ability to identify which vendors may not be conducting adequate quality checks before delivering their product.
Our customer, which is a major American furniture manufacturer, was aiming to significantly reduce product lifecycle costs. This included reducing warranty and replacement/recall costs.
Also, as per the guidelines laid down by the National Archive & Record Administration of 16 CFR Part 1633, it is required to track the fire blocking material that is used in upholstered furniture.
B-WI implemented a track & trace solution to meet the above objectives of the customer. Each finished unit is identified with a unique serial number and this serial number is written on the RFID tag, attached to the unit. All the critical process information and operation information throughout the assembly process is associated with the serial number.
In addition, raw material considered to be critical such as fire blocking material has the Lot ID associated to the finished unit’s serial number to provide forward & backward genealogy.
Reports will allow a customer to determine the lot ID of a defective unit component and then go forward and identify all the finished units that have used the raw material with the same Lot ID. Hence, In case of any field failure or recall, only those finished units would be recalled.