Digital Manufacturing is a prevailing trend in aerospace and defense manufacturing. It has risen in importance due to growing requirements for genealogy, traceability, and serialization. By implementing Digital Manufacturing, organizations gain far more than a complete view of the delivered product throughout its lifecycle. They open the door to enterprise-wide traceability
Using manual processes, it can take a long time to provide a farm to table as-built for the customer. Countless hours can go into compiling this document. Data must be verified, re-checked, and compared to the real world to ensure accuracy. Similarly, counterfeit components or the sudden recall of a three-level deep component within a complex assembly can turn into organizational nightmares.
Traceability, then, is an essential element along the entire supply chain. It encompasses compliance, lot identification, serialization, product longevity, and recalls. From there, it flows into an accurate genealogy that can be provided to any customer with confidence. No matter how rigid the traceability and genealogy requirements of a customer, an end-to-end Digital Manufacturing system with an unbroken Digital Thread will satisfy them.
Increasingly, the demands of serialization are driving Digital Manufacturing initiatives. Certainly, complete accountability is a valid reason to embark upon the digital journey. But there are many more benefits: Cost reduction takes place as time is taken out of the equation. A recall, a search for counterfeit components, a request for an accurate as-built – each can be satisfied rapidly as the information is available within the Digital Manufacturing system.
Another benefit is being able to cope more easily with lengthening product lifecycles. Product longevity in manufacturing is observably increasing. Therefore, the need to maintain records, stock parts, manage components across the supply chain becomes more vital than ever. Some products may even outlive those that designed and built them. No matter how many decades it has been since an item was delivered to a customer, those currently in the organization must be able to log in, view the particulars of that item, and be able to service it without delay. This is unlikely to happen without the support of robust Digital Manufacturing systems.
However, some baulk at the idea of serialization. They think it may be too costly or may involve them in an endless data gathering or data cleansing activity. What they miss is how much it is costing them NOT to have serialization and traceability at their fingertips.
The best way to implement serialization is to include it as part of an overall Digital Manufacturing program. This will make it far less costly to deploy while laying the foundation for being able to track and trace all critical components in manufacturing processes.
In fact, Digital Manufacturing is probably the only way to achieve real serialization. Manual processes, reliance on spreadsheets, and rekeying are the bane of accurate traceability. By establishing an end-to-end Digital Thread, data is automatically captured, stored, and managed across the supply chain.
Digital Manufacturing offers the ability to view the entire product lifecycle from design to end of life. Data flows seamless to all those who need to see it at every stage of the process. And serial numbers are key to its attainment.
Achieving a traceable view across the enterprise and throughout the lifecycle facilitates a great many deliverables. The organization can start with an eBOM, have it translated into the mBOM and a process plan, a work order, and an as-built with relative ease. Despite there being a great many changes introduced along the way, complete serialization and traceability are enabled by digitalization.
Thus, it becomes possible to track genealogy all the way back from the delivered product to the original BOM, know why it was changed, when and in what way. The result: a 100% true as built, by part number, by revision, and more.
The iBase-t Digital Manufacturing Suite offers a sure route to cost-effective serialization. By establishing the Digital Thread, it takes the effort out of organizational programs aimed at achieving improved traceability and serialization.