Real World Engineering

This is a blog from the trenches—written by engineers at Maverick Technologies who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry. This isn’t what they teach you in engineering school. These are lessons learned from years on the job, encountering the obstacles and issues that are part of the real world of control and process engineering.

Real World Engineering

Enterprise batch records: A mechanism for traceability

In the second of three parts, we consider how you can add a new level of thoroughness to your product records.

September 03, 2013


Last time, I mentioned several reasons why enterprise batch records are such a good idea and how you can use them to connect upstream to your suppliers and downstream to your customers. That takes the traceability idea to the next level and links the enterprise batch records to your supply and distribution networks, giving you real supply chain traceability. So, let’s talk about it a bit, and emphasize why that approach is so much more than simple lot genealogy.

You probably know a lot about supply chain traceability. Most everyone is doing it and there are lots of solutions out there that work really well.

You can see some of the best solutions whenever you ship a package using UPS or FedEx. They have bar code labels and scanners that can track your package through every place that it goes. In fact, they can tell you at any time exactly where you package is and give you a complete list of where it’s been, when it’s going to be delivered, and when it was at each stop along the way.

It took them a long time to get to that level of sophistication, but when it comes to manufacturing, you need a lot more than a supply chain solution meant to track packages.

You need something in the manufacturing plant that captures everything that goes on in the manufacturing plant, not just the movement of materials around the floor. You need a solution that records the transformation of those materials into a finished product and tracks everything in the process including labor, equipment, materials, and so on.

Enterprise batch records capture everything that went into manufacturing the product, even including things like maintenance, cleaning, quality, and safety. Everything you need to know exactly what happened to in the manufacturing plant to get from raw materials to finished product – to get from receiving dock to shipping dock.

Taken all at once, this could be overwhelming but you can move step by step. Start small and build up as you go, and it’s actually pretty easy.

Next week we will consider what questions to ask to select what goes into your records. So, for now, good luck and have fun.

This post was written by John Clemons. John is the director of manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more.