In today’s automotive manufacturing environment, success is based on efficiently and profitably building and selling vehicles. But even more, success depends on an auto manufacturer’s ability to achieve and maintain the quality and safety of the vehicles they build and sell. In an ecosystem that includes thousands of suppliers, delivering tens of thousands of components, tracking and traceability of each is critical. Direct part marking makes tracking and tracing possible, and OEMs depend on their suppliers to deliver properly marked products.
“Almost all standards relating to automotive parts marking are driven by the OEMs,” says Nicholas Kaczmarski, National Sales Manager – Beamer Laser Marking Systems ®. “Suppliers to the automotive industry routinely manufacture components for several OEMs. Within their operations, direct part marking is critical, in order to deliver the right products to the right customers.”
Kaczmarski used an example of a Beamer Laser Marking Systems customer. “One of our customers, a tier one supplier to the international automotive industry, provides a particular drive train component to several OEMs. Accurate direct part marking is important to make sure that each OEM gets the component they ordered.”
But there is more to direct part marking than making sure that the right product gets where it’s going, according to Kaczmarski.
“Tracking and tracing is also critical if there is a failure somewhere in the supply chain that creates a warranty or safety issue,” he noted. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulates the safety of motor vehicles and related equipment through regulations compiled as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These regulations support the NHTSA mission to prevent and reduce vehicle crashes, and all OEMs must work within these regulations.”
Regulations demand tracking and traceability
While FMVSS regulations apply to OEMs, manufacturers hold suppliers responsible to standards they establish, to ensure they have visibility throughout their entire supply chain to prevent or minimize safety and quality issues.
“OEMs have a legal duty to notify NHTSA if they learn that a vehicle, or individual components or parts within that vehicle, do not comply with FMVSS regulations,” Kaczmarski explained. “And they have to be timely – an OEM has five business days to disclose the safety-related issue or defect.1, 2
“This starts a remedy process monitored by NHTSA that is referred to as a “safety recall campaign,” or simply a recall. In this process, tracing the source of the defective part, and tracking forward to find in which vehicle that part was used are critical steps that require accurate direct part marking.”3
Kaczmarski notes that laser marking is an accepted direct part marking method in automobile production. A significant amount of the content of automobiles is laser marked – from full assemblies, all the way down to individual parts from all the various tiers of suppliers. That includes everything from windshield wipers to individual electronic pieces, not just machined components.
Clearly, with this broad range of products, all suppliers must understand OEM demands for tracking and traceability, as well as the demand for visibility throughout the supply chain, to remain compliant with the FMVSS, enforced by NHTSA.
But that doesn’t mean they have to be experts in direct laser marking of parts.
“It’s important for suppliers to the automotive industry of every kind and at every level to have a partner who understands their business and the automotive industry overall; and one who has the critical marking expertise that’s necessary,” Kaczmarski says. He uses his organization as an example. “Beamer Laser Marking Systems, an all-American manufacturer, has that critical marking expertise, as well as insight and understanding that applies directly to the automotive industry.”
Laser marking to support OEM standards, needs
He notes that laser marking is fast, flexible, repeatable, and durable, which are important to the efficient and profitable operation of any size automotive supplier. Taking it further he notes, “It also saves time in the manufacturing process overall – in some cases, as much as three minutes per part – because it relies on programable actions that reduce operator interface. Equally important to demand for tracking and traceability, critical information like 2D codes, serial numbers and other intelligent data can be created with consistency throughout production, speeding up cycle time and improving productivity while supporting safety and quality.4
Automotive suppliers who can support OEM traceability standards and systems in collaboration with automotive manufacturers, helping them improve their efficiency and correct – or prevent – safety-related issues strengthen their relationships with those OEMs and improve their own business. Direct part marking with laser technology can help.
“Suppliers should think of direct part marking as an investment in their own cost-effectiveness and productivity, and a critical way to strengthen their relationship with their OEM customers.” Kaczmarski says. “In addition to be able to provide the necessary technical knowledge applicable to the auto industry, we provide the best American-made laser marking solutions in the industry. That makes us the ideal partner to any supplier.”
About Beamer Laser Marking Systems®
Beamer Laser Marking Systems means American-made quality in a full range of fiber laser marking machines providing an industry-leading 100,000+ working-hour span. In industries from automotive to medical and more; save production time and boost productivity with these affordable solutions.Beamer offers user-friendly off-the-shelf standalone turnkey solutions as well as custom fully automated solutions with extremely fast turnaround times. Whatever your direct part marking needs – Beamer has a solution that will enhance your product quality and give your operation a competitive edge. www.beamerlasermarking.com
1. U.S.C. 30118(c) 2. CFR 573.6 3. U.S.C. 30118(b) 4. AIAG Parts Identification and Tracking Application Standard, B-4