The Sum of Its Parts

February 4, 2020

The Sum of Its Parts

Transforming the Manufacturing Environment with Component-level Insight

By Joe Schutte

A product’s integrity is based on its weakest component. If a single component is compromised, an entire product’s integrity falls into question, leading to concerns in regard to potential harm to the end consumer and costly recalls when the compromise comes to light. In order to protect consumers, brands therefore must understand a product’s entire genealogy—from individual sub-component to parts to finished good. Yet, as supply chain complexity continues to grow, brands are often unable to decipher when a compromise occurred and which batches were affected. Let’s explore a recent example:

In mid-January, Toyota issued a recall for 3.4 million cars due to a potentially defective electronic control unit (ECU). The unit in question was meant to protect passengers in the event of a crash by communicating with the car’s sensors to alert the airbags and seat belt pretensioners—the harness that tightens and holds riders back during a crash to lower the chance of an injury—of a crash. The defective ECU’s integrity was called into question due to “certain noises that could interfere with the device’s connectivity,” ultimately causing the airbags and seat belt pretensioners to fail to deploy fully, or in some cases, to deploy at all. Unable to identify if the defective ECU is present in specific vehicles, the company will recall four car lines manufactured between 2010 and 2019, likely costly millions to inspect and replace.

With modern manufacturing facilities handling

billions of products,

it is increasingly integral that each product and component be traceable from start to finish, with manufacturers notified of a compromise in real time

for rapid resolution.

This recall, like many others, was driven by the inability to understand the composition of a product and its components. In other words, it revolves around product genealogy. With modern manufacturing facilities handling billions of products, it is increasingly integral that each product and component be traceable from start to finish, with manufacturers notified of a compromise in real time for rapid resolution. As such, manufacturers must take a component-level approach to their manufacturing environments in order to safeguard consumers, reduce recalls, and protect their bottom line.

Transparency at the Component-Level

In order to ensure a holistic view of a product, traceability must begin first at the individual component. By leveraging advanced serialization, manufacturers can create digital identities for every component, storing granular-level data in regard to material, point of origin, and equipment usage into a secure, Blockchain-enabled database. This digital identity acts as the foundation of a product’s lineage, establishing the first stage of a product genealogy.

Transparency at the Part-Level

Next, components are fitted together into larger parts. By correlating component identities with new, digital identities generated for each subsequent part that specify the many components contained within, manufacturers are able to unleash granular-level insight across factory environments. This insight empowers manufacturers to proactively address safety or quality compromises in real time, protecting the end consumer.

Transparency at the Product-Level

Finally, myriad parts—many of which have come from different suppliers and factories—are compiled into a finished good. That final product is then assigned its own digital identity, which is entered into a relational database to produce a single, comprehensive view. At a single scan of the security label, the product unleashes a wealth of data on every individual part and the components contained within each. Better still, the process can be worked in reverse, identifying a single component and working forward to identify which products contain the component. In the event of the Toyota ECU recall, this capability proves integral in identifying which vehicles contain defective ECUs and removing only those batches from the market, rather than all 3.4 million of the potentially impacted vehicles.

Eliminate the Weakest Link in your Supply Chain with ProLinc®

At Ashton Potter, we understand the unique challenge of monitoring billions of components at scale. Yet, to protect consumers, there is a critical need for real-time, component-level insight that empowers manufacturers to pinpoint compromised goods before they reach the market.

That’s why we’ve introduced ProLinc. A SaaS-based product security and traceability solution, ProLinc empowers manufacturers to apply digital identities to every component, part, product, and batch, all of which together combine to build a product’s genealogy. Able to seamlessly integrate into existing systems and factory processes, ProLinc introduces an unprecedented level of insight into the high-volume, high-velocity manufacturing environment.

Talk to an expert today to learn more about how Ashton Potter can bring complete component-level insight to your factory floor.

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