Traceability may be something you’d prefer to not think about. Like test, it can be considered a cost center, and as Aegis Software CEO Jason Spera explains, it’s often only implemented in reaction to customer or regulatory requirements.
But that could be a short-sighted view. Writes Spera in a recent blog post, “If traceability is to offer real value, and not cost, then it needs to become proactive, creating traceability data as a byproduct of a data-driven manufacturing excellence strategy.”
A grudging approach to traceability has led some companies to buy or build a minimal traceability solution and apply it only to assemblies or products that require it. However, writes Spera, “This narrow approach is fraught with missed opportunity. By adopting such a narrow scope and application of traceability, the entire manufacturing culture is trained to see traceability and data acquisition and management as a burden rather than part of the way business is done with inherent benefits.” Further, he notes, it can be expensive to extend a narrow approach as requirements evolve.
Further, a lack of traceability limits the scope of data available to companies, hindering the drive for operational excellence.
“The data set included in modern traceability effectively becomes the definition of ‘Manufacturing Big Data,’” Spera writes. “When that data is leveraged for more than just answering the traceability challenge, it becomes the most powerful process and product improvement tool imaginable.”
Spera describes the use of Manufacturing Big Data in the NPI process from the time R&D completes CAD and locks down the BOM in PLM or ERP systems through assembly, inspection, and test.
“When ‘big data’ is considered,” he writes, “traceability required by a given regulatory agency, customer, or market is simply a forward or reverse query against the data set, or a subset of it.” Ultimately, he concludes, “When a manufacturing enterprise adopts a Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) system capable of managing the entire scope of operations…traceability is no longer something an enterprise strives to achieve, it is a byproduct.”
Read Spera’s complete post here.