The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act
2019 came into effect on September 1, 2019. The revised act introduced several
new features to make our roads safer; such as – hefty fines for violators and reckless
drivers, higher compensation for road rage victims and, for the first time, it
covered vehicle recalls – which has really stood out for automation industry
Vehicle recalls, until the
introduction of this act was only voluntary with automakers publicly acknowledging
the type of fault and suggesting a timeline to fix the problem. But now as per
the new law, central government can direct auto makers to recall vehicles if it
is not satisfied on safety or emissions aspects. This will force automakers to
be more transparent and more responsive and are likely to come under a greater scrutiny.
They’ll now need to be even more proactive to identify vehicle faults and
notify the government and general public before any third-party agency does so.
Well, my intention here is not to scare anyone but to address the elephant in
Automobiles such as a
four-wheeler is a complex machine created by around 30,000 big/small components
and sub-assemblies – playing their respective roles in the overall functioning
of the machine. Now these components/sub-assemblies can come from hundreds of part
suppliers with each one of them having their own manufacturing process. For
example, a four-wheeler manufacturer maybe sourcing a brake assembly from an
ancillary who is itself using tens of components to build the brake assembly.
Any defect in a particular component can lead to a failure of the brake
assembly after a certain number of operations (say after the brake pedal is
pressed a thousand times) leading to catastrophic consequences. While every
manufacturer wants to produce high quality components, it is not always
possible owing to a mix of factors like design issues, inconsistent processes,
inferior raw materials etc. which creep into the supply chain. Auto components
are always produced in batches and a defective component can trickle down to
the entire set and ultimately affects the vehicles of different variants and
sub-brands. In the above example, once the automaker realises that there is a
defective component, they may move to recall the vehicles from the market. Recalling
a vehicle is expensive from a brand impact as well as cost (checking,
servicing, etc.) point of view. If the automaker can recall precisely the
affected vehicles, they can save cost as well as avoid inconveniencing their
customers. But which ones to recall? Different batches of brake assemblies may
have been mixed while installing these on the vehicles and not all of them may
be defective. To make matters even more complicated, the defect may have
originated from a defective batch of brake shoes (as an example) and multiple
brake shoe batches may have been mixed while assembling the brake assemblies!
This is where traceability comes into the picture. Simply put, traceability is a multi-step process focusing on giving a unique identity (usually by way of bar codes) to every component and sub-assembly at every stage of the assembly process. Again, using the example cited above, with traceability the automaker can determine the serial numbers of all the cars that have been fitted with the defective sub-assembly that were produced using the defective brake shoes. But since these sub-assemblies were produced by their supplier, this can only work if their suppliers have also adopted traceability. Automation systems today can enable this kind of product traceability throughout the complete supply chain. It is essential for any automotive maker to have a strong product traceability to trace faulty or damage prone products and take steps to contain the issue. It starts right at the component level; showcases its magic at sub-assembly, assembly and final product level. Traceability empowers a manufacturer to quickly identify non-conforming parts and vehicles while reducing checks on unaffected ones.
OMRON is a leading player for automotive
traceability and we are excited to have one of the largest product and solution
portfolios in the segment ranging from Laser Markers, Barcode Readers and
Verifiers, RFID readers as well as Machine Controllers that can read/write from
the MES/ERP layer to support the implementation of traceability.