Traceability in Industry 4.0 - get a perfect overview of the production process
The success of manufacturing companies lies in eliminating bottlenecks in the production process. However, the risk of operator or equipment error is omnipresent and cannot be turned a blind eye to. Moreover, the discovery of a problem is often delayed. Without traceability, it is difficult to detect a defective part or a specific cause and there is no space for efficiency gains. This is why traceability is an important part of the Industry 4.0 concept.
Every product has its own production history. If you want to know it and get an imaginary pedigree of the product, you cannot do without detailed data collection and storage. In order to distinguish one product from another, you need to give it a unique mark (number, code, etc.). For such a mark, there are then production records that prove the quality of the product. These can range from photographs to the results of inspection equipment. This is what a sophisticated traceability solution is all about.
Summary: A traceability system is designed to make products traceable by uniquely identifying them. Using modern technology, it enables fast and secure access to data without complex implementation in the production process. It operates in line with Industry 4.0 principles and thus provides direct connections to other production nodes.
Benefits of implementing a traceability solution
A comprehensive traceability system gives manufacturers the ability to quickly discover the cause of a defect, check compliance with production procedures and improve efficiency based on the data collected. The data is stored for the long term, so access to the information is seamless even years after production. In the case of an online solution, the data can be accessed at any time and from anywhere.
Photographs can also serve as proof to the manufacturer that no fatal mistakes were made during production. In the case of using inspection equipment, only the measured values or other inspection outputs are stored. Often the customer approves the inspection methodology or the stored data and requires compliance with specified requirements (e.g. maintenance period, calibration, etc.).
The identification of the individual system elements is essential
A fundamental pillar of reliable traceability is unique product marking that allows easy identification. For small production, text or numerical marking can be used, but in practice the use of barcodes or DMX codes is preferred. For larger productions, a more sophisticated identification system is essential. Unique barcodes or DMX codes are easy to generate and easy to read. Other technologies such as RFID, NFC or active IoT elements can also be used.
Product identification is an important part of the entire production process. You can also involve AUBO collaborative robots, which can playfully handle label sticking or code reading during quality control or other primary operations.
Connection to a higher-level ERP or MES system
Traceability solutions can be implemented independently in the production process. However, in the spirit of Industry 4.0, it is preferable to link the system to a parent ERP or MES system. The data collected from production will not be isolated, but will be used in other important applications. For example, interfacing with a system for production planning, maintenance management or efficiency monitoring is suitable.
Traceability goes hand in hand with monitoring
In addition to traceability, monitoring is also important for production efficiency. This involves evaluating actual data, whether it is the status of production equipment, the length of the production cycle, the number of finished products or the number of defective products at a given time. Performance data can also be visualized and graphically projected into tables or charts.
However, monitoring and traceability systems are inherently different. In the case of traceability, information is stored separately for each identifiable product. Monitoring then allows the progress of production as a whole to be monitored, errors to be detected and room for process improvement to be sought.
Traceability, monitoring and visualisation under the KINALI umbrella
At KINALI, we have for a long time focused on the development of software tools that serve to eliminate errors, reduce necessary operator intervention and improve plant utilization. We can supply you with tools for full product traceability, including inspection devices that verify the product and store data or photos. We will also deliver a full monitoring solution that can visualize performance data.
KINALI's successful projects include the MYCenter Analysis tool, which monitors and visualizes data from Mycronic automatic assembly machines. We also create customized analytical and monitoring tools (e.g. software for Stabila). When the data source is provided, the solution is affordable (starting from CZK 100,000).
Traceability as a necessity and competitive advantage
A sophisticated traceability system is essential in many industries (automotive, military, aerospace). End customers demand that in the event of an error, the originator can be easily traced, even down to the small part level, across the entire supply chain.
The continuous collection of data also creates space for further analysis and the search for patterns in the circumstances. This is why traceability solutions are useful for any manufacturing company, regardless of production size or industry. Wondering what tools are suitable for improving your manufacturing processes? Contact us, we will propose the optimal solution and provide a complete implementation.