FOLLOWING THE LIGHT Traceability in optoelectronic components

Holding data on respective components and products has become a primary concern for manufacturers. Will Heath, commercial director for OMC, considers the effect of traceability on the optoelectronics industry


ocated in a new purpose-built facility opened in 2017, within sight of the old mine engine houses and the Cornish coast, the Optoelectronic Manufacturing Corporation (OMC) designs and manufactures fibre optic devices, LED backlights and light guides, discrete optoelectronic components and semiconductor lighting products, all for application in a multitude of industries including consumer electronics, instrumentation, power distribution, medical, petrochemical and robotics. In these areas, OMC looks to release a number of new products, set to reduce complications whilst meeting the necessary industry requirements. Two such products are new narrow beam- angle, surface-mount LED emitters and an IP65-raated slimline 24V industrial LED illuminator strip. The latter, in particular, is tailored to the ongoing trend for smaller, lighter packaging, as its slim, lightweight design proves efficient for industrial and OEM applications, such as rack lighting and POS displays.

However, as digitisation takes hold of the electronics industry, OMC looks to jump on the fibre optic trend to supplement this.

FOLLOWING THE DIGITAL TRAIL With these design and manufacturing decisions comes an acknowledgement of the importance of traceability within the industry, particularly with regards to optoelectronics. However, it endures as a challenging process to automate, as until now, it was not commonly performed on metal parts for the industrial fibre optic datacomms industry. Nevertheless, software has been developed to automatically engrave a time stamp onto every metal component, with room for an individual serial number, if so desired. This is becoming routine as digitisation takes hold of industrial progression. More so, individual transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) devices can be fitted with their own unique identifiers, allowing the output characteristics of each device to be tested and recorded against the serial number, simplifying the exact pairing of the Tx and Rx devices during installation. This proves invaluable when guaranteeing that long-term link performance requirements are met, which simplifies installation troubleshooting in the process.


But as previously mentioned, the ability to trace one’s product is expected with all components used within manufacturing builds. This is noticeably common in power generation, aerospace and petro-chemical industries. For example, when a company is bidding for a government contract, if they can offer full component traceability, this increases customer confidence and in many cases is becoming a fundamental requirement. Not least because automated batch engraving helps further enhance production yields. This is an important outcome as business growth continues and customer demand for product innovation intensifies, with investments made on the aforementioned fibre optic transmitter and receiver devices, in addition to smaller components as a response to the ongoing drive towards miniaturisation. As manufacturing equipment advances and electronic applications demand more from their base parts, component supply volumes rise to meet production demands. Considering the propensity towards exports, traceability is vital in maintaining an effective relationship with the customers requiring the respective components. In the case of optoelectronics, applications are already being outfitted with identifiers that, in an increasingly digitised production system, allow for instant monitoring and reliably quick data management.

Will Heath, commercial director for OMC




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