What is the best track and trace method for rotational molding?

Track and traceability is very important for rotomoulders and it is undeniably known as the future of all manufacturing.

Considering the significant cost, resource, and productivity advantages it provides, it is not hard to see why traceability offers so many benefits to both the manufacturer and the end-user.

Benefits of tracking in rotomoulding:

Factors which directly benefit rotational moulding include.

  1. – Product recall – for quick and efficient identification of effected products
  2. – Quality control – provides a higher level of control through the manufacturing process
  3. – Operational efficiency – to locate and minimise waste of both materials and operational resources
  4. – Customer satisfaction – a robust system better positions you to respond to your customers’ problems and make improvements to provide higher-quality products and meet their needs.

How to track plastic products:

A common question we get asked by rotomoulders is, ‘what methods are used for tracking plastic products? There is no short answer as there are many, so we have created this blog to help uncover these methods, as one or more may suit your specific application.

To start you need to identify the purpose of your tracking endeavour, reasons include.

  1. – Unique product identity – PSI recommends a serial number and/or barcode
  2. – Production tracking i.e., date of manufacture, batch number, product specification – again we recommend serial numbers and/or barcodes
  3. – Distributor reselling – best solution is a product barcode
  4. – Product servicing, location, and data log – by manually using serial reference or digitally using barcode or RFID
  5. – Product information i.e., link to webform – such as QR Code
  6. – Anti-theft or multi-asset tracking – best solution here is RFID

Putting it simply, a unique identifier can be just a consecutive serial number associated to the product or part.

When do I use Serial Numbers?

One of the most questions we get asked is ‘what is a good serial number system for water tanks?’ In short, a Black number on a White background stands out well and serves as a reference for traceability through the manufacture process. The challenge is how to permanently serialise plastics, this has been made possible through use of our INMOULD and POSTMOULD graphic systems. These systems are popular for many products including kayaks, industrial products, automotive parts and other warranty sensitive type products.  A way to digitise this for ERP systems is to combine your serial number code with a scannable barcode.

So what about Barcodes?

Another question plastic moulders ask is, ‘how to use barcodes for product tracking’? Barcodes are one of the most effective methods for tracking plastic products and are commonly used for integration with ERP systems. For example, the Barcode is applied to the part using INMOULD or POSTMOULD process and easily scanned at time of manufacture directly into your spreadsheet system then again on the product during product service or warranty claims to ensure full record is kept of the product. These graphics are usually combined with a visible serial number and are designed to last the life of your product.

Can I use QR Codes?

QR Codes were the buzz-word of the millennium as they were deemed to ‘connect’ our products to the internet, what is often unknown is how to use QR codes effectively. In short, each QR Code has a specific URL or link that upon scanning with your device will direct you to a specific website landing page, such as the product specification or downloads to support the product user. This could also include (but not limited to) web-forms to enter product details such as warranty information etc. Due to the fine quality and high-resolution prints possible with PSI Brand INMOULD or POSTMOULD graphics, this means your QR code is readable and ‘connected’ for the life of your plastic product.

What about RFID for plastics?

Wait a minute, what is RFID? RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is a means of identifying objects via a wireless communications protocol using radio waves. So, what is the difference between barcodes and RFID? The #1 benefit of an RFID the ability to read the ‘tagged’ product without any line-of-sight hardware, like PayWave or anti-theft devices found in retail stores. Previously tagging plastics items was possible through cumbersome methods such as spin-welds or IML inserts that are attached at post-mold stages. PSI developed the PSID™, combining RFID technology with its INMOULD Original construction, allowing moulders to permanently in-mould this tracking device into the plastic surface during the molding phase.

Read more on RFID for Plastics

Using PSI Brand for track & trace:

PSI Brand are well positioned to propose and assist the best traceability solution that suits your specific case. We partner with your company to ensure this solution is the best-fit and for your manufacturing process, putting you in a stronger and more sustainable position to accommodate future growth

If you have any questions or would like to request a quote, contact us today.

 

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