For assembly manufacturers, managing all the components that make up their final product can be a challenge. Monitoring the individual and often expensive components during and after the production process is not always easy. With serial number management, components and finished products are effectively traced, production insight is provided and efficiency increases significantly. Serial number management is an important part of a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and/or Warehouse Management System (WMS) in the discrete industry. In these systems, it is possible to configure which products or parts are to be partially or fully tracked, depending on the needs of the company.
The use of serial numbers is therefore a convenient method for tracking and tracing items in the supply chain. As a company’s operations grow and the complexity of its supply chains increases, manufacturers are challenged to become ever more efficient. Tracking serial numbers reduces unfamiliarity and provides accessible insights, optimising production and inventory management and thus increasing efficiency.
While the use of serial number management offers opportunities for significant process improvements and efficiency within the production environment, the benefits extend even further into the period after the sale of the final product. From warranty management to replacing defective or broken parts, it becomes very easy to trace them back to the supplier. Serial number management therefore helps manufacturers and sellers to provide value to the end customer long after the initial sale.
THE BENEFITS OF MES AND WMS
Serial numbers in themselves are just pieces of data. Without the right systems to collect, organise and access the information, serial numbers have little value. MES and WMS systems organise the information gathered so that companies can make the most of it. These systems track items in various ways, from RFID to manual scanning of serial numbers. Through dashboards, manufacturers can track the entire product lifecycle and can also trace serial numbers from both incoming and outgoing stock.
MES and WMS enable companies to make optimal use of product and component data, creating visibility with other integrated systems, suppliers, distributors, sales channels and more.
In the MES and WMS package by Objective, the possibilities of serial numbers are extended even further. The creation of a product passport and the management of a one piece flow are examples of this.
A product passport is a collection of data that is characteristic for a certain product. As a product moves through the assembly process, Objective collects the data from the individual components. With this data, a complete passport is created after the production process, consisting of an accurate and clear report on the composition of the final product. In addition to the data of the individual components, it also contains contextual information such as the production order, the operator, the machine, inspection results and other traceable data.
In some assembly processes, the quantity to be produced for a production order is just one piece, which goes through the production line in one go without creating intermediate stock. In Objective, that piece then goes through a one piece flow. Think of a computer. The assembly starts from the motherboard and through the production process components are added at each workstation to produce the finished computer.
Objective’s software allows manufacturers to follow the production process in real time via dashboards. They know immediately where an order is, how far it is in the process, which workstation it is at, what still needs to be done, etc. This is possible because barcode scanning or RFID keeps precise track of where an item is located. One piece flow optimises production and logistics processes by strengthening the manufacturer’s grip on the process. The result is more than just visibility and transparency, quality is also improved and processes are more efficient.
OBJECTIVE PRODUCT SUITE
The Objective Product Suite (MES & WMS) is designed to help manufacturers manage operators and machines and gain actionable insights into performance and quality. It provides real-time information that allows a high degree of complexity to be incorporated into the production process and avoids data silos. With a more integrated and transparent process, efficiency becomes a no-brainer.
Objective MES/WMS “must haves” for serial number management:
- Accurate track & trace overview and history of all serial numbers that are part of a finished product.
- Easy insight into the original and new serial numbers given to each part.
- Receive incoming stock via barcode scan or ASN whereby the serial numbers are automatically fed into the system.
- Possibility to create serial numbers at any time in the process, either automatically or manually.
- Easily distinguish between serial in inventory (SII) and serial not in inventory (SNII).
- Gate-to-gate tracking of serial numbers, from receipt of goods, through the warehouse and production, to the end customer.
- The following data can be stored for serial numbers: components, inspections, QC history, documents and events.