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Double check recipe with Track & Trace

Customer

A manufacturer of finished lubricants for a variety of applications in the automotive and industrial markets. It blends a variety of petroleum products and additives to provide products such as transmission fluid, engine oils and industrial metalworking fluids.

Issue

Using DCS system, company is using the new system to get a little more out of its track-and-trace application than usual. According to Don Hartman, process blending specialist, the DCS acts like a subsystem of the ERP system at times, in that it pulls recipes from the ERP system where they are housed. It then has the day’s production run queued up and ready to go.

Result

The company receives bulk products from vendors. Receiving information is manually entered into the ERP system and a bar code is applied to the drum or other container containing the lot and item numbers. As the material is used, the operator uses the barcode reader. If the material matches the stored recipe in the DCS, then the transaction is recorded. After the batch is produced, the ERP system is notified and updates its inventory records. So in this case, the tracking system not only records all the usual information, but it also serves as a quality check on the batch process. Meanwhile, the record keeping has helped the company track down lots on several occasions.

That companies are discovering additional uses for track-and-trace applications is not surprising to analysts. According to Senior Research Analyst Matthew Littlefield and Research Analyst Mehul Shah, in Boston, there has been a significant shift in the pressures driving the market regarding compliance and traceability in the last few years.

“The number-one pressure driving the market at the end of 2007 was to reduce the cost of quality, non-compliance and recall events. Now there is a two-fold strategy,” say Littlefield and Shah said in a recent report. “First, it involves gaining understanding and control of the production processes themselves. Compliance and traceability can not be tested into a production process. Rather, it must be assured through continuous monitoring of the process itself. The first step to accomplishing this is in identifying those process-critical control points that can be measured and are predictive in regard to final product quality. Then, threshold levels for these critical control point metrics must be established. The final piece is then to measure these critical control points in real or near real-time, which will allow for in-process adjustments and ultimately the assurance of finished product quality and compliance.”