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Traceability in Manufacturing

What is Traceability in Manufacturing?

Product traceability in manufacturing is a critical need for today’s manufacturers. While historically, it may have been implemented only in facilities where products could be recalled, today it’s a critical function for manufacturers across sectors. Manufacturing traceability solutions provide managers with the ability to trace products through the entire production cycle, including the origin of components, inspection notes, time spent at each workstation, and product destination. All products and components are tracked automatically and digitally, for a complete record of the relevant data.

Why Implement Traceability?

Traceability can be customized according to a company’s needs, from internal traceability within a specific factory or across the organization to external traceability, either before components enter a facility or after a product leaves the manufacturer. By having the capability to cover the full logistics chain, from supplier to manufacturer and even to the end customer, companies have complete information about potential problems or defects, and can also identify the strategies for continuous improvement. If there is a problem and recalls are needed, companies can also identify which specific products need to be recalled, potentially avoiding unnecessary recalls. In addition, certain sectors and geographic markets require material traceability in manufacturing, so traceability tools are a necessary part of day-to-day business for many manufacturers.

How Does Traceability Work?

There are several methods for traceability, but in general, it involves two types of tracing – one for individual products and one for central recordkeeping. The tracing is done by a traceability machine that gathers digital data via barcodes, scanners, or other technologies. This provides digital recordkeeping for each product, as well comprehensive product data across a facility, for real time product and business data. This data can be used for production planning, quality control, OEE measurement, strategic business decisions, and more.

Traceability for Improved Business Performance

In addition to providing the needed details about products and their components, traceability can contribute to a manufacturer’s business growth and success. Downstream tracing can be a valuable resource for marketing decisions and help improve customer loyalty. With full product information down to the customer level, manufacturers can learn more about how and where their products are being used, and by whom. This information can be used for business decisions, as well as targeted marketing efforts.

Manufacturers can customize the material traceability procedure according to product or facility and specify specific features or KPIs. With an advanced traceability solution, manufacturers have the data and information they need to deal with any product issues, in addition to identifying business opportunities for growth. 

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