Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0012
2020-03-10

Item level serialization and traceability of aerospace fasteners based on individual inherent surface patterns 2020-01-0012

Item level serialization traceability, defined as the ability to track and trace products, items or components through the supply chain from product manufacturing all the way to the end of life service, has significant value in the aerospace industry. Many items become susceptible to counterfeiting when their origin and authenticity cannot be verified and Item level serialization and traceability fosters supply chain integrity. Data Matrix and radio-frequency identification (RFID) are two common methods that enable detailed information about the manufacturer. However, these methods are not generally compatible with fasteners due to the small size of the fasteners and the cost of these methods. Fasteners are the most commonly used parts on an aircraft and rely on lot level traceability associated with packaging to provide a level of supply chain risk management. However, the association of individual fasteners to parental lots is often lost once the fasteners are removed from packaging. We demonstrate a completely new approach to develop item level serialization traceability for aerospace fasteners. It is demonstrated that this label-free traceability can be realized at production speed only by taking high-resolution gray scale images of the fastener heads. This approach exploits the inherent surface patterns which are natural artifacts of the fastener manufacturing process to develop an individual signature for each fastener. The technique is robust and will withstand the effects of various processing steps in production and impact of handling. Fasteners remain completely unchanged, leading to easy applicability on standard and special parts - independent of size and material. This technique, described as "Track & Trace Fingerprint," has already been applied successfully in automotive series production by Fraunhofer Institute of Physical Measurement and is currently being adopted for aerospace fasteners by Arconic Fastening Systems. The unique code carried by each fastener is a new communication tool which can be used in many ways in an industry 4.0 environment.

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