Among the best practices in the manufacturing industry, undoubtedly, there is one that has great strength and advantage; it’s all about traceability. According to production experts, the concept of traceability is made up of a series of pre-established and self-sufficient procedures that allow recording and knowing the history, location and trajectory of a product or batch of products throughout the chain of supplies through certain tools.
This practice consists of systematically associating a flow of information with a physical flow of goods, in such a way that the required information can be found related to specific batches or groups of products. To achieve this, one of the best practices in the manufacturing industry, traceability, is based on the following principles:
- Unique Identification: It will be the key that will allow access to all available data about the history of the product, application or location.
- Data capture and recording: A series of predefined data is required to be captured and recorded throughout the supply chain. The accuracy and speed of the capture, its recording and retrieval, is one of the main performance indicators of any traceability system.
- Management of links: Traceability requires the management of successive links between the articles / products / batches that are received, produced, packed, stored and dispatched through the entire production chain. If this process were to fail, the “information chain” would be broken, with the consequent loss of traceability of the products.
The traceability of a product must be divided into two parts:
- Internal traceability, which is the obtaining of the trace that a product leaves by all the internal processes of a company, such as handling, composition, machinery, shift, temperature, batch, etc., that is, all the indications that they can vary the product for final consumption.
- External Traceability as the process that adds data to the internal trace, as it can be broken packaging, a change in temperature chain, i.e., those representing an impact on the goods outside the factory.
A fundamental part of the best practices in manufacturing and traceability process is the encoding and decoding of information. Correct identification of the product in each one of the stages of the production chain is as important as the programs and applications used for information management. For identification, there are different methods that allow describing the route through which the product has passed and its current characteristics, as well as the percentage of work carried out on it before its release (either to the market, or to another process within the same company).
Broadly speaking, the main benefits of traceability are:
- Availability of information quickly and safely
- Improvement of dispatch and reception times
- Reduction of logistics costs due to rejection of the merchandise
- Positioning of the company against the competition (higher level of customer satisfaction and trust)
- Better control of the performance of inputs and raw materials
- Reduction of manual controls in port
Now, let’s talk about data capture. The two most used technologies in the traceability strategy are barcodes and RFID. Using these technologies is to implement one of the best practices in manufacturing.
It is here where technology developers attending to the best business practices and compliance with national and international quality standards, offers various sectors a series of barcode and RFID readers that meet the needs of the demanding traceability process. The extensive portfolio of code reading readers can satisfy any need for reading at the factory or warehouse and will allow businesses to opt for the more convenient reader or for fulfilling task.
They exist from wired readers connected to their workstations, to wireless readers associated with a mobile computer installed in a vehicle, as well as portable, hands-free and combined readers (portable / hands-free), as well as reading speed and high performance with any type of material and code format (1D and 2D). No matter if the barcode is in reach or on the highest shelf, there will always be a reader that meets the needs and demands of the workplace.
These tools are created by a renowned group of industrial designers that offer robust, yet highly ergonomic products with which high levels of comfort are obtained, as well as an intuitive and easy-to-use design that practically eliminates the need for training. In this way, the manufacturers of technological communication and connectivity tools contribute with the demanding traceability processes and satisfy business needs, regardless of the industry or the application that is required.
The challenges of traceability as they relate to best practices in manufacturing
The particular precision and safety requirements in various industries require technological devices that are easy to use, ergonomic, intuitive and with suitable characteristics for the field in which they are used: resistant to disinfectants and with the ability to adapt to the signals of others. equipment so as not to interfere with the transmission of information. Likewise, since traceability is not an individual project of a single company, but rather relates several companies along the supply chain, the standards must be known internationally, only in this way will the electronic data transmission system facilitate the mission.
On the other hand, increasing competition and the pace of manufacturing operations pose a great challenge. Today’s marking and decoding equipment must adapt to high-volume, 24-hour production cycles, as well as increasingly automated industry environments. The intervention of the human factor is relevant; hence the technology must be user-friendly for operators. The efficiency of technological tools must translate into reduced maintenance and a reduction in consumables and spare parts. After describing these challenges, we can conclude that a traceability strategy supported by adequate, reliable and robust technological tools, as well as advice and optimal technical support, will allow a correct flow of information and adequate management for decision-making on any of the processes that make up the entirety of the supply chain.