Traceability of e-mobility Components Enabled Through Fiber Lasers

An important application of fiber lasers for electric vehicles is marking. In this article, we explore a particular application which is how to add traceability to e mobility components using a fiber laser.

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What is traceability of e mobility components?

Let’s start with a definition for traceability from techtarget.com

Traceability, in supply chain traceability, is the ability to identify, track and trace elements of a product or substance as it moves along the supply chain from raw goods to finished products.

We are focused on traceability in the supply chain primarily. In the case of this particular article, we are looking for the ability to identify, track and trace e mobility components from raw materials all the way through to finished products.

Why is traceability important?

Here are some of the reasons why adding traceability is so important for manufacturers in the e mobility components supply chain:

  • Combat counterfeiting – the counterfeiting of manufacturing goods is a lucrative industry worldwide for many unscrupulous companies. Parts manufacturers can add a mark/serial number to their parts, which will make it much more challenging for counterfeiters to mimic
  • Legal and regulatory compliance – A major reason for adding traceability is to comply with national and international laws and regulations, which need to be complied with. In some cases, these may apply to specific industries
  • Product recalls – from time to time it may be necessary to recall products. This could be a component or an entire vehicle. In such cases it is imperative to be able to trace which products to recall, this could be through a batch number range, serial number range or products manufactured on a given date, etc. But to be able to isolate these ranges a mark of some sort needs to be added, to distinguish from other similar components
  • Quality – Component traceability will be a part of many manufacturers quality systems (for ISO this is ISO 12875:2011). ISO says:

    The ISO definition of traceability concerns the ability to trace the history, application and location of that which is under consideration, and for products this can include the origin of materials and parts, the processing history and the distribution and location of the product after delivery. Traceability includes not only the principal requirement to be able to physically trace products through the distribution chain, from origin to destination and vice versa, but also to be able to provide information on what they are made of and what has happened to them.

By adding traceability an organisation is adding quality and can prove that its components and products meet prevailing standards and industry/legal regulations.

Types of engravings and marks which can be added

Traceability is effectively delivered through laser engraving and laser marking technologies. The main differences between marking and engraving are:

  • Marking – a laser creates sufficient disruption to create a mark on the surface of an object
  • Engraving – a laser removes material from the substrate, creating an engraved cavity

Marks and engravings which can be added include:

  • Date information – adding of dates such as date manufactured, use by date (if applicable), etc.
  • Marketing and promotion – some marks can be added for promotional reasons, e.g. manufacturer name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, etc.
  • Night & Day marking – although most frequently on dashboard components, this can be applied for traceability if it’s important to view this information at any time of day
  • Parts marking – addition of various information on a part as required, such as the part number (for easy re-ordering), quality compliance information (e.g. ISO #)
  • Security information – the addition of security information on a component
  • Serial numbers – the addition of serial numbers, which is very effective for traceability
  • VIN (vehicle identification number) – addition of the VIN, this will be an engraving
An example of a serial number mark which has been added to anodised aluminium by an SPI fiber laser

An example of a serial number mark which has been added to anodised aluminium by an SPI fiber laser

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