What are the risks when you improve a plastic component?

Summary: Updating and modifying a component has ramifications along the entire subsequent process chain. It is essential to ensure that no components from previous revisions can re-appear, as this has major impacts on quality and may ultimately affect the usability and performance of the shipped product. Direct Part Marking allows for simple verification during critical assembly and packaging steps, ensuring 100% accuracy in detecting and rejecting any non-complying revisions.

Improvements happen all the time. A new polymer material is introduced, or a geometry is optimized to solve a practical issue. This can reduce material cost, simplify assembly or improve functionality.

Every component is made to be an exact fit with every other component making up your product. However, whenever an improvement is made, there is a risk that previous versions of that component are not properly purged from all storages, and can re-appear at any time subsequently. The risk is small when supply chains are short, but several aspects of modern production increase the risk.

  • Buffering for minimal downtime: Minimizing downtime of the assembly line is achieved by increasing buffer size. Components are produced well before they are needed, and kept in storage.
  • Sourcing from subsuppliers: Although communication with subsuppliers is solid, there is always a risk of misunderstandings along the path from supplier mould to assembly line. 
  • High product mix: The need to meet customer demands for customization can lead to small variations that can be hard even for trained operators to manage. 

When revision updates are introduced in this scenario, the probability of receiving the wrong component, due to revision updates or other variations, is compounded.

For a successful improvement process, it is essential that previous revisions do not re-appear, as this could cause costly problems. In best cases, the line stops briefly while the problem is solved, but in worse cases assembly equipment is ruined. 

Worst-case-scenarios include the unthinkable: shipment of faulty product to unknowing customers, which must eventually be recalled and replaced, and potential liabilities for damages.

Costs due to lack of revision management can include: 

  • Downtime for root-cause-analysis: while investigations proceed, the line is stopped. Line stoppage is among the most costly events in automated assembly.
  • Wasted resources: All suspected previously assembled and packaged products become out of specification and must be reworked or discarded. Managing such an event can draw down many resources. 
  • Human: Employees are the heroes – when mistakes arise, they feel strongly responsible, and can become demotivated even though they are not responsible.
All of these problems will be solved with Direct Part Marking. imZERT markings can include information that identifies:
  • Mould and Cavity number (implicit revision number)
  • Lot number (exchange the imZERT)
  • Revision number (explicit)
  • Product / component identification

Put critical information on the part!

Categories: Applications

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