PFEP database for improved traceability

In this article I will discuss the role that traceability plays in logistics optimization. I will introduce the characteristics and usefulness of Plan For Every Part (PFEP database). Lastly, I will analyze the relationship between lean operations management, traceability, logistics, and process improvement.

Since logistics is a set of functions relating to material, information and financial flows, traceability is a tool for recording all operations and modifications in the links of the supply chain. This applies to supplier selection decisions, purchase of raw materials, the choice of carriers, the returns of goods, and much more.

So, what is a PFEP database about?

We can use a lean management tool for improving traceability. I am referring to PFEP. PFEP stands for Plan For Every Part. It facilitates a system that collects and manages information about all parts, components, supplies, WIP (work in progress), inventory, raw materials, finished goods, and any other form of materials used in a process.

Exemplary illustration of the types of information that should be contained by a PFEP database

A PFEP database usually takes the form of a table that summarizes part- and material-related information. Examples of such information could be:

  • Location of the storage warehouse
  • Supplier of the part or material
  • Supplier related information
  • Carrier related information
  • Shipping related data, e.g. for the shipping process
  • Applicable container types for storage or transport
  • Quantities per container type

And much more…

Implementing a PFEP database

A PFEP database should have sorting capabilities. The database should be user-friendly and readable. In addition, it should be possible to print data from the database anywhere in the facility.

Excel and Access are commonly used for implementation. But, the database can also reside in the ERP or MRP system of the company.

Common data elements in a system of this kind

The table below shows data elements and information that is most commonly part of a PFEP database. Note that data elements, data structure and information content can be neglected, adjusted or otherwise deviate form below table depending on the specific application and use case.

Part #Number used to identify the material in the facility
DescriptionMaterial name (e.g., frame, bolt, nut, yoke)
Daily usageMaximum amount of material used in a day throughout the entire plant
Usage locationProcesses and areas where the material is used
Storage locationAddress (location) where the material is stored
Order frequencyFrequency at which material is ordered from the supplier
SupplierName of the material supplier
Supplier cityCity where the supplier is located
Supplier stateState, province, region, or district where the supplier is located
Supplier countryCountry where the supplier is located
Container typePackaging type of the container (e.g., cardboard box, reusable tote)
Container weightWeight of an empty container
1 part weightWeight of 1 unit of material
Total package weightWeight of a full container of material
Container lengthLength or depth of the container
Container widthWidth of the container
Container heightHeight of the container
Usage per assemblyNumber of parts required for 1 finished product
Hourly usageMaximum number of pieces used per hour
Standard container quantityPiece count of material in one container
Supplier performanceSupplier performance rating that includes on-time delivery, quality, etc.

Criteria of success for PFEP database implementation

There are various criteria that usually must be fulfilled in order to be able to successfully implement a system of this kind.

First of all, the chosen PFEP format must support sorting capabilities (as already pointed out).

Second, data must be present and maintained at the most fine-granular level. For example, container size should be specified with its dimensions (width, length, height) in addition to the volume. Container capacity should furthermore, if relevant, not only be specified in terms of volume but also in terms of maximum payload (weight) and maximum containable unit count.

Third, a responsible PFEP manager must be appointed. Responsibilities must include updateing the PFEP database and ensuring data accuracy.

Fourth, guidelines for maintaining the PFEP database must be defined and actively adhered. Regular trainings must ensure facilitation of the guidelines.

Advantages of having a PFEP database

There are many advantages of having a PFEP database in place. Here are some of the main advantages that I observe in industry:

  • Reduction of working capital
  • Maximized production throughput
  • Improved quality and safety
  • Reduced lead times in the global supply chain
  • A more transparent and stabile supply chain
  • Reduction of start-to-finish total supply chain costs
  • Explore strategies for inventory size and presentation of materials
  • Assessment of the current state of your operations to identify possible improvements
  • Understanding the importance and key benefits of a PFEP

Final remarks and references to related content

Having an eye on the future when implementing a PFEP database helps in avoiding any major alterations once it has been successfully implemented. At least, for a reasonably long time horizon.

Also, in addition to managing current parts of current products, you will also want to use the PFEP database when developing new products. You can do so by putting into place the rule that no new product can be moved to production readiness phase without full documentation in place.

An accurate PFEP database, developed and tested well before the start of production, will be a powerful tool for the development team. It ensures trouble-free launches.

Lastly, I have listed some links to some related articles within the domain of logistics, manufacturing and supply chain management:

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