Tracking a product through production processes

Batch traceability

There are two reasons for wanting to track products as they move through production process. One is to maintain batch traceability. This means being able to trace a fault in a product back to the process or material that caused the problem. Once you trace it you can identify either  the problem within the process or the batch of materials used in that part of the process.

Production run number

In order to do this is is necessary do create a "Product number" or "Production number" for the production run. Then this number moves from process to process, acquiring the process numbers at each process point. For example when building a mechanical product you will have a mixture of processes. One type will be where you select and convert raw material in to components and others that involve assembly of the components.

Example

Let us take a high spec bike as an example. The raw materials used will be sheets of carbon fibre for the frame. followed by curing and painting. After that the wheels, handlebars and saddle need mounting on the frame in one or more assembly processes. Each process has an id, each raw material (carbon fibre and paint in this case) has a batch. Each assembly point will record what batch of nuts and bolts are used and the quality control testing carried out. When the bike gets a problem after sale, the company needs to investigate what happened. An inspection of the production records will enable a trace to be made on the raw material batch and the assembly date and QC sign off.

Screenshots

Here are some screenshots of how PASS Locator achieves this traceability. Firstly All the batch numbers and processes used in the bike need to be visible easily and all in one place. You can see this in a finished and delivered bike at the top of the image below.

Firstly All the batch numbers and processes used in the bike need to be visible easily and all in one place. The production number of the bike is highlighted in blue and all the batch numbers for both raw materials and components are shown in the hierarchy underneath it. The image on the right shows the detail of the sale.

 

Bike manufacturing processes
The processes are listed under the production run number
Product customer and delivery details

Secondly you need to see the details of the batch or process once you have narrowed down the problem to a specific part of the production line or raw material.

Tracking record of wheel assembly

A history report identifies the assembly date of the wheel fitting and its batch ID. If the wheel itself had been made on site then the report would include the batch number of the materials usage.

The quality control needs to be fast, accurate and efficient so we use barcodes. A set of barcodes at the process area defines the checks that need to be make and records the date, time and batch that then forms part of the overall manufacturing record. Portable scanners send back the data in real time so that you can see progress or history immediately.

Bike wheel assembly

The barcodes are scanned with a PDA as they are fitted. This updates the database and links the assembly procedures to the Production run number so that you can then run the reports above.