Technology Increases Flexibility of Traceability

(Windsor, ON - October 3, 3012) Traceability remains a top discussion point with manufacturers of all types and sizes. They continue to seek better and more effective ways to track more and more aspects of their production and are increasingly interested in new uses of advanced technology.

Traceability technology was on the minds of many of the visitors to DataRealm's booth at the recent 2012 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) last month in Chicago. Although DataRealm talked with hundreds of manufacturing staff from some of the world's largest companies, the scope of interest seemed to vary little between organizations.
“The need continues to track what is going on in a production center on a minute-by-minute basis to create very comprehensive traceability systems,” observed DataRealm President Dave Fortin.
He spent some time in the DataRealm booth in the Advanced Manufacturing section of the show with most of the discussions about the application of the best technologies needed to create data-rich, robust traceability systems.
“What is even more interesting is the types of technologies that are now available for detailed traceability programs that seem to have grown exponentially since IMTS 2010. We found ourselves as much talking about technology as we did about the actual traceability function,” he added.
Some of the technology changes include more advanced marking technologies including almost universal acceptance of 2D and Direct Part Marking (DPM) codes.
“The 2D code allows for the printing of a much wider scope of information and really has added considerable depth to the whole process,“ notes Fortin.
Another aspect is the emerging use of tablet devices now being used on the plant floor because of the considerable mobility, increased screen real estate and flexibility they offer.
“With a tablet, traceability is becoming more user friendly. You can do much more with the information you can gather. In some applications on-board cameras are proving to be indispensable in recording unique operations or items of interest. A picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words. Users no longer have time to spend verbalizing what they're talking about and they have the opportunity to compare a series of photographs to visually detect trends that match what numerical data capture is telling them.”
In the end, Fortin says that traceability has become increasingly more comprehensive with the systems that DataRealm is now developing including aspects that would not even have been dreamed of a few years ago.
"We have a continual evolution of human machine interface (HMI) and programmable logic controller (PLC) technology on the plant floor that is now being matched with more sophisticated traceability systems."
He adds that "the movement to more versatile, user-friendly technologies is really changing how data, is collected and analyzed."
This is one of the reasons DataRealm is expanding its relationships with technology suppliers particularly those who are leading in the industry.
“We see our job as both keeping up with the technology and using the most advanced that is available to continually expand traceability systems to have them both capture more and richer information and then to create the analysis and interpretive solutions that make sense out of all the data that can now be collected.”
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