Traceability requirements for industry 4.0

Traceability is a topic that is becoming increasingly important to the industry. Be it general labelling, quality management, product liability or logistics – traceability is increasingly becoming the measure of all things to do business sustainably. As the development of the industry 4.0 and its advanced technologies, it will enable companies as never bevor to not only detect errors quickly and purposefully, but also to avoid mistakes and to increase the quality sustainably. As a basis, the traceability of the workpieces essential, this is made possible by the labelling and serves as an identification of the products. Traceability across the entire product lifecycle can be ensured through tagging and data collection systems.

In the following, the focus is on dot peen and scribe marking systems as a permanent marking method and the presentation of 2D-Codes as a simple and secure optical identification option.

The term traceability to DIN EN ISO 9001
The term traceability is used across all sectors and, according to DIN ENISO 9001, is only valid if the identification of the entire process is complete and clearly identifiable. This means that traceability is only guaranteed if the company clearly identifies its products. The documentation of traceability includes e.g. the origin of the materials and parts, the course of processing, as well as the distribution and position of the product after delivery. Traceability therefor has two aspects: the tracking and the tracing.

Need for traceability
Full traceability is now a necessity for many companies, as law, guidelines, standards or supply contracts require them. For example, manufacturers and suppliers must prove that their products are flawlessly manufactured and that they comply with relevant regulations in order to avoid having to pay for the corresponding damage in the event of product liability.

The following formulation is often found with standard purchase framework contracts: „The methods of labelling and traceability must be documented. The Products must be clearly marked during production. Batch traceability must be guaranteed down to the level of individual parts or raw materials...".

Traceability is becoming more and more common in the Collaboration Specifications and is the most important basis for verifying error-free processes along the entire supply chain.

Important benefits of traceability

Minimize errors, increase productivity - Simplify root cause research through structured and effective traceability. Fast error analysis minimizes scrap and increases productivity.

Ensure and increase quality - An efficient traceability system increases the reliability that no wrong components are used.

Transparency and optimization of processes - The acquisition and evaluation of production and process data, leads to greater process transparency. This creates the basis for continuously improving processes and making them more efficient.

The Possibilities of permanent labelling.
The cornerstone of a functioning traceability system is unambiguous identification based on a label that must be permanently traceable throughout the processing process and across companies. Markings are usually applied as codes or as classical plain text.

Industrial applications require markings that are permanently legible and traceable, even under the toughest conditions – not lust during productions- for years to come. Direct part marking (DPM) offers a solution for this. In this type of marking, markings are marked by different methods directly into the surface of the object, for example by dot peen or scribe markings systems. The choice of the right marking system depends strongly on the material of the object. Markator's marking systems use the technique of dot peen or scribe marking and provide an efficient way to ensure easy and long-lasting traceability. Its easy and flexible integration and precise marking results make these systems standard in many industrial companies.

The most important advantages of dot peen and scribe marking at a glance:

  • Permanent and forgery-proof markings
  • Withstands the toughest conditions – abrasion resistant, water, solvents, oil temperature, and UV resistant
  • Suitable for all surfaces – from plastic to hardened steel
  • High readability, even after subsequent processing (e.g. varnish)
  • Very precise marking image, even with the smallest marking
  • Full flexibility I the adaptability of the marking
  • Easy to integrate in production lines, also on robotic arms

The selection of the right marking system depends on the type of execution and application of the project, but also on which material the product consist, the process flow, the process environment or the later use. Not every system is suitable for every requirement. For this reason, it is generally recommended in advance to make a test marking with the products to be marked on original material.

Presentation 2D-Code / Data Matrix Code (DMC)
An excellent way to compress and machine-read data is to use codes. In addition to classic barcodes or QR codes (1D-Codes) , the 2D-Codes are increasingly being used in form of a data matric code in the manufacturing industries. Simple 1D-Codes are limited in their amount of data where 2D-Codes can encrypt large amounts of data in the smallest space. Even after damage to the 2D-Code, its contents can usually be reconstructed and read out. To ensure traceability, there are strict requirements for the quality of the code. MARKATOR's dot peen and scribe marking systems meet these standards and allow for individual and flexible labelling for a variety of applications – from plan text to 2D-Codes to logos.