Product recalls have been thrust to the forefront of public knowledge in recent years, with manufacturers such as Takata and General Motors seeing their vehicles come under scrutiny from the automotive world. Perhaps the most well known worldwide is the Takata airbag recall which has meant that a total of 7 million cars have been identified for recall worldwide over the last five years. When this happens, manufacturers both small and large need to know that their products are traceable through a variety of different methods; this is where automotive coding and marking technology comes in.
How automotive coding can help trace parts
There are a range of benefits that come with a digital coder to help automotive manufacturers ensure that vehicle parts are traceable in situations just like the above.
1. Code robustness
Robust inks designed for parts that will undergo a degree of wear and tear are essential. They need to stay put throughout the production process and beyond, resistant to heat, brake fluids and more. UV cure inks are an example of exactly the type of coding solution the automotive sector would be after, to create a code that is resistant to aggressive solvents that components may come into contact with either during the production process or during end use.
2. Robust printers that keep going
Codes need to be 100% accurate, that goes for any industry, but not every sector has to deal with hot or dirty environments where carbon dust can be a real issue. A coder with the correct IP rating for the production environment will ensure that its operation is not compromised, either by poor code quality or by significant downtime on the line.
3. Flexible coders that can change messages quickly and accurately
Automotive manufacturers often supply parts to customers across the world; as such they need to know that they can quickly and accurately change codes on their products without slowing the production process. Linking coders to a central control point, or managing them remotely will also help to reduce coding errors by delivering accurate code changes across the line.
All of these factors help automotive component manufacturers deliver high quality codes that are accurate, so that in the event of a product recall, the process is made as easy as possible. This also enables part manufacturers to remain compliant with the traceability requirements of their customers, keeping them competitive.
The impact of recalls on the automotive industry
As you can see there is a wide range of ways in which automotive coding solutions help to deliver accurate traceability – but why is it so important?
The long term impact of the aforementioned recall of Toyota cars and the installed Takata airbags would appear to be massive. Takata Corp is set to face the equivalent of a £293.77 million charge this year and a net loss for the third year running according to Reuters, five years on from the initial recall. In fact, the cost to the manufacturer has been estimated to be from $75 to $100 (£44 to £58 as of writing) per recalled car.
General Motors has also been affected by recalls of late, having had problems associated with Takata airbags as well as with ignition switches, something that they are set to be charged $700 million (£40.8 million) to recall according to Forbes. In the same article, crisis management is something that John Murphy, automotive analyst at Merrill Lynch, sees as the way to aid a quick recovery – no doubt made easier with accurate traceability.
Therefore, manufacturers need to ensure that they have the right automotive coding and marking solutions to deliver accurate traceability across the board. Whether they need to provide codes for different regions or customers, digital marking printers have the capability to provide consistent and robust codes even in difficult environments.