Why component traceability in electronics manufacturing matters

Why component traceability in electronics manufacturing matters

Traceability is the term given to describe being able to trace the journey of a part – or its constituent parts – back to its point of origin and, in some cases track it onward to its final buyer.

Any electronics manufacturing company worth its solder ought to be able to trace every component back to its source.

Component traceability in electronics manufacturing and PCB assembly is a fundamental part of quality management and ensures accountability for the products supplied to the customer.

It’s something that any customer should demand when researching possible EMS providers (electronics manufacturing services providers).

Why is traceability important?

The obvious reason for having full traceability of components is the ability to enact product recalls if it later emerges that there is a fault or a danger inherent in a particular part.

Tracking a batch of components through the supply chain, registering where that batch is used within the PCB assembly or electronic product manufacturing, and the customer that receives the final product, enables for a swift and efficient resolution to any safety concerns. 

It allows manufacturers to identify, isolate and return any remaining stock to eliminate danger, inconvenience, cost and reputational damage from using items which have been recalled.

There are other advantages to consider, too:

  • Customer confidence and satisfaction – the greater the insight that an EMS provider has into its supply chain and the greater the control of its own manufacturing process, the greater the indicator that all due care is taken throughout manufacture.
  • Compliance – products made for particular industries – for instance defence and aviation – may legally require that particular standards are met and that a full audit trail can be followed.
  • Quality control and management – encouraging the greatest degree of end-to-end control of all parts used in any assembly or manufacturing process, invaluable in maximising operational efficiencies, reducing waste and internal auditing.
  • Product authenticity – the customer and the end buyer gain real reassurance from knowing that the product purchased is entirely authentic and manufactured as promised.

How we ensure traceability at Protronix EMS

The basis for all component traceability is the works order number, which is assigned by our order booking system. This is tagged to all relevant digital documentation, such as order confirmations and delivery notes. It logs the delivery details so that any item can be traced back not just to a batch, but to a specific consignment.

When a customer proceeds with an order, we generate a works order record, which logs the component parts, the quantity being used within the production order, and any relevant RoHS status (when a product is subject to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive). Each PCB assembly or completed part supplied is marked with a code.

Additionally, we offer customers the option of barcoding. Any barcodes used are linked inextricably to the works order record, ensuring rapid traceability through our manufacturing process and back to the original supplier of each component.

In our experience, traceability requests are rare. It’s important that the systems and processes are in place to provide it when it’s needed, however. At most, customers can expect the results of any traceability request within two days. Typically, we’d expect to resolve the issue much faster still.

If you’d like to discuss accountability, quality control and component traceability in detail when planning your next electronic product, don’t hesitate to get in touch. For us, transparency is trust.

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