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Interest in Production Traceability Is Increasing

(Windsor, ON September 20, 2010) With innumerable factors increasing the use and importance of traceability in modern manufacturing, DataRealm (www.datarealminc.com) made it the focus of its booth at the International Manufacturing Technology Show, IMTS 2010. Traceability systems track the history of components that make up a final product.

According to DataRealm President Dave Fortin, factors dominating the need for highly reliable and comprehensive traceability systems include “quality management - prompted by an expanding emphasis on quality assurance - product liability issues, government regulations and legislation as well as national manufacturing standards and international ones that impact exporters.”

Fortin explains that, through the use of various tracking technologies, which he says are also becoming more sophisticated, every step in a process chain can be verified and documented for immediate and later reference.

“We can identify the subcomponents in a specific product and other events, measurements and operational results as they move through a production line. This is increasingly important for plants producing a variety of versions of the same product or in processes with multiple steps. As we move to more flexible manufacturing, with multiple versions of a product produced on the same line, the need for detailed tracking and highly reliable production records will rise.”

Fortin also sees an expansion of the amount of data tracked for every part. “The
industry has evolved from serial numbers on a part to machine-readable barcodes and now on to information-rich technologies such as two-dimensional (2D) barcodes and radio frequency tags (RFID). Traditional barcodes hold about a dozen alphanumeric characters compared to thousands with a 2D barcode. RFID tags and inlays carry kilobytes of information.”

“This detailed information,” he notes, “can include not only birth history but other information including maintenance records which has long been a staple of the auto industry and which also will be of particular value to other industries such as aerospace.”

Reading devices are also an area of technological advancement. Here Fortin cites considerable progress in accuracy and reliability: “We can confidently achieve 100% readability and accuracy with today’s technologies and proper system design.”

Another factor that supports in-plant traceability is the ubiquitous nature of Ethernet, a common communications technology in the production environment, which, as Fortin says, “allows more machine connectivity which can facilitate up-to-the minute tracking and verification.”

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