While the method a component is marked is important, what you do with the mark afterwards can be equally important.
As marking technologies have developed over recent years, the marking detail has been improved to include 1-D and/or 2-D bar codes. Sometimes these identifying bar codes, or unique identifiers are applied with labels or tags, directly marked onto the product, or with the latest options for RFID tags.
Specifications by industry are demanding manufacturers have in place methods to document their processes to prevent legal battles due to product defects, multiple vendor sourcing of the same components, and document where savings can be made when new technology is being considered.
With the advancement of technologies such as vision systems, computers and mobile devices, the ability to use these bar codes, no matter the method applied, you can now have smart processes for asset tracking, inspections, proof of delivery, proof of work, and much more.
When products flow through production on conveyors hand-held scanners and fix-mounted cameras use the bar codes to announce the arrival of the part, and communication is triggered for the task for assembly, inspection, and many other manufacturing processes to be completed. RFID goes one-step further to insure the correct tools are being used and are within tolerance when used in conjunction with vision inspection.
With mobile apps remote workers can quickly capture the information needed for the field service thru these same bar codes whether in cell signal, Wi-Fi or not connected at all. Package apps and custom-built to process apps provide benefits by eliminating redundant data-entry, insure the capture of critical data, and enhance the data itself.
As you assess your marking and traceability processes start by mapping your process out to identify the specific points in the process the markings will be needed, what data or communication is needed. You will want to consider how the communication is captured and transferred, and to what level the information needs to flow. Then evaluate the environment in which the mark will be exposed and demanded to survive. While one mark to achieve this is optimal, you may find that multiple types of mark will be needed.
Once implemented you will find that traceability opens the door to a new way of operating your business.