The identification of a product and a procedure enabling it to be traced to its origin are important needs of the quality system for the following reasons:
- Proper identification of the product checks mix-ups during processing.
- It confirms that only components or materials which meet specifications are used for processing.
- It facilitates the process of analyzing failures and taking corrective action.
- It allows defective products to be recalled from the field.
- It makes it possible for materials with a short shelf-life to be used on the condition of the principle first-in-first-out from stocks.
- To start a level of identification and traceability appropriate to the product and the customer’s needs, it is important for the application of product traceability and identification to be properly understood.
The identification system adopted must allow supplies to be linked to particular documents. The material may be a chemical, metal or fabric component and it should be identified by the name under which it was received from the vendor. Where applicable, the number of specification or drawing giving details of its characteristics or features can also be used to identify the product.
For ease of identification and in order to link products to manufacturing testing and dispatch documents. The product or its package must carry the nomenclature and specification/part number by stamping, labelling or printing on the package. The identity of some materials like metal bars can be started by painted colour codes. ISO certification 9001 makes that your product needs an quality system.
Traceability is the ability to trace the history of the product through its record. For this, identification by specification and name is not enough. Each piece or product batch is, in addition, provide a unique identity. For example, major equipment or critical components may be given to products manufactured in the course of a specific period during which input materials and manufacturing conditions are more or less similar. This method of identification for traceability is used for products like drugs, paints, food and small electronic components produced in bulk.
Identification and traceability during manufacturing operations
It is obvious that when components and materials are received at the manufacturer’s works, they must be properly identified and their inspection and test status verified.
However, maintaining product identity during manufacture and dispatch to the customer needs careful consideration. ISO certification helps a company is trusted and it makes a good impact of your business.
First of all, a unique code or serial number must be assigned to individual items or batches. All quality records must carry these serial numbers and associate the materials so identified with the processes they have undergone and the personnel who have handled them during manufacture.
It is obvious that the process needs considerable documentation and additional activities which may be costly. It is normally justified only for critical materials or when it is specifically required by the customer. Written procedures should be devised for affixing identification marks to the product and maintaining these during processing. Problems arise when identity numbers are effaced or removed when the materials are being worked on. For instance, identification numbers on castings or forgings may be obliterated during machining operations. Provision should be made therefore for transferring stamped numbers to a machined surface before the originally stamped surface is machined.
Similarly, the identity of chemicals marked in containers is lost once the chemical is removed for processing. The identity must be restored on the container of the processed material at the next stage of operation. Alternatively, production processes should be given “stage numbers”, which have associated records indicating the identity of constituent materials. ISO certification is mandatory for all company to market their products.
This seemingly complex system is in fact not very difficult to implement. To a certain extent it is already in place in many manufacturing firms since, without it, no organized production is possible. Establishing it as a formal procedure is usually a question of institutionalizing existing practices and procedures to ensure that these are faithfully implemented at all times. A proper system of identification and traceability is important for the accurate start of a products inspection and test status. It is also of great assistance in localizing the causes of failures and minimizing the costs of remedial action.
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