NSK adds barcode traceability to bearing manufacture
Published: 3 January 2014 - Rachael Morling
A new barcode system has been added to NSK’s state of the art production facility in Newark which manufactures super precision bearings, allowing each bearing to carry details about its manufacture.
The implementation of component traceability has been essential in sectors such as aerospace for some time, but is now being employed in a much wider range of industries.
The introduction of two dimensional barcodes has allowed a much greater amount of information to be stored within a barcode, so instead of just a serial number or batch number, now it is possible to include manufacturing dates, axial run-out and radial run-out figures as well as preload information and machining data. All of this can now be laser etched into every single bearing, which enables both NSK and customers alike to have near instant access to this crucial information.
For NSK, this coding forms part of the manufacturing process and it is used to populate the product database as well as produce the product labels which are fixed to the outer packaging. By incorporating the data for every bearing produced into the production data system it also provides a vital quality control tool as well as complete traceability, which is required by many industries such as aerospace and automotive.
This information also enables identification of any product that may be affected by a defect, but with such accurate detail, the total number of products affected can be exactly ascertained. In the past, this could only be narrowed down to a single batch or day of production, which could mean much larger numbers of the product being identified as at risk.
The system delivers a proactive method of identifying any defects before the product is dispatched to the customer. By providing real-time reports on materials, components, machines and shift operators, the system can be used to identify exact quantities of parts which may be affected by a faulty machine setting, for example, and allow those parts to be quarantined. In this way the high product quality expected by the customer is maintained and the costs associated with replacement of faulty components are greatly reduced.