Traceability of parts and products is of major importance for manufacturing companies in different sectors to ensure important product characteristics, such as safety, reliability and efficiency. Keeping parts and product traces, can help companies to show to regulatory bodies that their parts and products are properly maintained and that the embedded software is up-to-date. Tracing parts and product information from suppliers enables companies to easily verify that parts or products are of sufficient quality to be used. This is especially important when considering the general aim of reducing our footprint on natural resources by reusing (refurbished or re-manufactured) parts and products; if companies can easily establish that used parts or products have been produced and maintained according to quality standards and regulations, they will be more inclined to reuse them. Traceability also helps to efficiently handle service requests from customers, because it creates a record of the parts of a product that is owned by a customer, enabling the company to easily determine which parts must be serviced in which manner. This is especially important for recall actions, which require that a company is aware of the customers who own defective products or parts of products.
While the benefits of the traceability of parts and products are evident and traceability is even mandated by law in some industries, traceability currently often involves a complex paper trail, which is inefficient, ineffective and very often incomplete. This is especially true when multiple parties are involved in the production and maintenance of parts and products, or when parts and products change hands. In practice this is almost always the case.
Consequently, the goal of this project is to design an efficient infrastructure to facilitate traceability of parts and products. On the one hand, this infrastructure should facilitate typical goals with which parts and products traceability is done, in particular: service and maintenance, certification, and embedded software updates and recall. On the other hand, the infrastructure should save companies time in their traceability efforts, thus creating a convincing business case for investing in the development and implementation of the infrastructure.