Track and Trace
Quality inspection and traceability are becoming essential factors in both recalls and the prevention of counterfeit products injected into the supply chain. Inspection results, images, and unique identifiers stored in a relational database can be used in a recall event. All assembled products containing the defect can be collated with historical vision inspection information to further reduce the recall's size by auditing the data.
Not only can track and trace be used for inspection auditing but if multiple processes use barcode readers, engineers could use the data to find potential bottlenecks in their system.
There can be a hesitation with beginning a data collection pilot project because the plant's IT department's perception needs to get involved. That is not always the case. Modern Smart Network Attached Storage (Smart NAS) devices are a storage server in a box capable of storing files and also hosting databases and web servers. These web servers present dashboards on the production floor. In addition, where facilities don't allow orphaned Wi-Fi networks, we have used a long-range Bluetooth-to-Ethernet converter that helps mobile phone-based barcode readers collect and store data into a Smart NAS.
Non-conformances that are still within acceptable tolerances can be a predictor of something further up in the process that needs to be addressed. For example, the accumulation of material on a mold can cause changes in surface finishes. By monitoring the trends of true rejects and "warnings," an alert can be sent to the Process Engineer when the trend shifts. This way, preventative maintenance (PM) can be scheduled at a convenient time, instead of interrupting when the PM must happen now.