Feature Highlight: Serial Numbers

When building electronic devices it is often necessary to serialize the build: assign unique identifiers or serial numbers to every device built. Afterwards, each device built (called a sub-assembly in PartsBox) can be tracked individually. This has a number of important benefits:

  • Traceability: unique identifiers help in tracking the journey of a product from the point of production to the end customer. This is useful in recalling products, investigating issues, and ensuring quality control.
  • Service and Repair History: thanks to serial numbers, it is possible to track the full history of repairs and service done to a specific device.
  • Regulatory Compliance: For certain types of electronics, regulatory bodies may require traceability, which serial numbers facilitate.
  • Quality Improvement and Defect Identification: If a particular defect or issue starts arising in a batch of products, serial numbers can help identify the products made around the same time or with the same batch of components. This can help identify the cause of the defect and prevent future occurrences.
  • Lifecycle Management: Serial numbers help in managing the lifecycle of a product, from manufacturing and sale, to servicing and end-of-life disposal. They can facilitate environmentally responsible disposal or recycling of electronic devices.

PartsBox implements serial numbers on top of lot control. Lot control is necessary to distinguish between items in stock for a given part, otherwise all stock for a part is considered to be fungible (the same).

When building projects/BOMs, there are options for adding stock to the sub-assembly part associated to the project. An additional option called "Track each resulting sub-assembly separately?" changes the build process so that individual lots are generated for each sub-assembly built. In other words, every device built is in its own, single-unit lot.

This provides incredible flexibility: lots already carry a lot of data and have unique ID Anything™ codes. Additional data can also be attached to lots as files. This can be anything: test results, repair protocols, regulatory filings, service history, or anything else that is necessary for tracking the lifecycle of an individual device.

Every lot has a uniquely generated ID Anything™ code that can be printed as a QR-code and attached to the device. Alternatively, devices can be identified by the build ID Anything™ code (pointing to a build) and an integer serial number auto-assigned within that build.

If the option to add sub-assembly part stock is enabled when starting a multi-stage build, PartsBox will keep track of stock that is in production. Information about possible abnormalities in production or test results can then be attached to each device lot individually, as the devices are being built. Completing the build changes the stock status from "In Production" to "Available".

Serialization is a powerful tool for tracking manufactured electronic devices. It enables traceability of each device from manufacturing through distribution to end-user sale, aiding in warranty management, inventory control, theft and fraud prevention, customer service, regulatory compliance, quality improvement, defect identification, and lifecycle management. By facilitating detailed tracking and record-keeping, serialization serves as a vital tool for enhancing operational efficiency, quality assurance, and overall accountability in the electronics manufacturing industry.

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