Back in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, traceability took the form of a sheet of paper that followed every tray of components through the manufacturing process.
The operator would write their badge number, the time they started, and key information about the raw materials. When they got finished with the work, the operator would write down how many good parts were created, how many bad parts, and the time that they finished working on it.
Then, they would lay that piece of paper on the tray and pass it on to the next operation. The next operator would follow the same process with a fresh sheet. By the time the finished product got to the end of the line, there might be 10 sheets of paper stapled together with lot trace information on it.
These stacks of traceability papers were stored in cardboard boxes and built up over time. However, not only was this susceptible to water or fire damage but anytime they had a recall, it could take several people several days to go find what they’re looking for.
The truth is, 30 years later, there are manufacturers still following a process like this.
The Benefits of Component Traceability
In the example listed about, the manual lot tracking system was cumbersome, vulnerable to damage, prone to human error, and time-consuming.
However, when you introduce a true traceability system, you can generate barcodes, scan parts, store that information in a database, and cut down all that manual work.
That’s a whole lot more efficient for the person responsible for tracking lot components, moving the material around, and shipping it. And in the case of recalls, instead of taking a dozen people a week to sort through paperwork, you can have one person query up the correct data in a matter of minutes.
Let’s take the automotive industry, for example. Because of the sheer volume of output they’re pushing out, trying to do this without components traceability would be a nightmare.
Even on a smaller scale, traceability helps you avoid time-consuming labor, high-cost risk of missing, incorrect, or lost data, and risks of a product recall. By adding a traceability system, the entire process becomes leaner, more efficient, more reliable, and lower risk to the company.