Applying the New IPC Standard for Traceability Makes Compliance and Reporting Easier


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A raw material is defined as any component that does not have a traceability record. Because this is a modular approach, the traceability detail of subassemblies can be combined easily at a later date, either when the subassembly is used, or even later, as long as the unique ID of the subassembly is recorded. The subassembly data can later be imported or simply referred to when stored in a connected system.

Then, specific cells of information that contain different attributes are defined for each of the materials and processes. The IPC-1782 standard lists the requirements for data capture for each of these cells, relevant to the specific level of traceability chosen: M1 through M4, and P1 through P4.

In the case of process traceability, common elements of traceability data apply to all processes and then additional requirements are dependent on the specific process type. For example, common elements are process name or ID, time in and out of each PCB, etc. Specific data by machine type would include the list of materials consumed for an SMT process as well as details of machine errors during the operation, whereas a test process would include a pass and fail result, as well as process measurement data.

For all the materials identified as being used at each process, the associated material traceability data cells are referenced. Information in these cells can include unique material IDs (as well as unique carrier IDs), supplier, date code, etc. The method of linking material traceability data through the use of unique IDs and the cellular structure of the data means that, at higher levels of traceability, data does not need to be repeated within the data structure. Any specific material, identified by an ID with associated traceability data is needed only once and may be referred to from many reference designator positions on many different assemblies, and even across many different products. This helps to reduce the storage requirement for the data by a significant amount by eliminating needless duplicate data.

In addition to product specific records, the traceability structure also includes data relating to equipment maintenance, kept separate from the assembly tree structure, because it need not be related to any specific product but is time-based data which may occur while a product is being made or between products.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the February 2017 issue of SMT Magazine, click here.

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