Component identification

Component traceability: Prerequisite for process optimization

The traceability of complex products is proving difficult in times of strongly interlinked chains for production and global supply. For high-priced components, the industry now uses RFID labels, data matrix codes or even chemical markers for identification purposes. Yet seamless traceability of the production history also makes sense for low-cost products, because even a single connector, worth only a few cents, may impair the performance and durability of a complex and costly end product. More and more cost-effective "tracking & tracing" solutions are in demand for small, price-sensitive components such as electrical plug connectors or spark plugs. Often it is technically unfeasible or simply too expensive to use labels or special markings in such cases.

Marker-free: Using the surface microstructure as identifier

The Track & Trace fingerprint method for component tracing developed by Fraunhofer IPM enables individual authentication of components without the need to mark them. The technology makes use of a component's distinct microscopic surface or interwoven color structure. An industrial camera takes high-resolution images of selected areas on the component’s surface. The specific structural pattern captured by the image and the way in which they are positioned relative to each other is used to generate a numerical identification code, which is then stored in a database together with other process and measurement data. This entire process can be repeated to identify the component at a later date. Fingerprints are matched to the ID and other individual component data. Since no additional markers or IDs are applied to the product, the system is tamper-proof.There are no unit-dependent costs, so that thanks to Track & Trace Fingerprint, even mass-produced components can be traced at reasonable cost for the first time.

Track & Trace Fingerprint is suitable for very different component sizes and shapes: Very small areas on conductor tracks are just as suitable as cross-sectional areas of steel profiles. The method can also be employed for rotationally symmetrical components and even their curved lateral surfaces. The method can be used for a wide range of materials –  from plastics to precision-machined aluminum and cast iron to varnished surfaces.

Three systems: for application in the production line, in the production environment or for mobile use via smartphone

Even with batch sizes of several 100,000 units, the stochastic "fingerprint" of a component can be uniquely identified within seconds, enabling the identification of component-related data in the production cycle. With Track & Trace Fingerprint Inline, recognition rates of up to 99.95 percent could be achieved in production. Even rotationally symmetrical components are reliably identified. For flexible, mobile use in the production environment, the wireless, portable Track & Trace Fingerprint Flex is available. Very fast, easy component identification is possible with the Track & Trace Fingerprint App – without additional sensors, without prior knowledge and anywhere in the world.

Systems for component identification


Track & Trace
Fingerprint Inline

Component identification in the production line

The permanently installed system registers and identifies components for marker-free tracing.


Track & Trace
Fingerprint Flex

Component identification on the production site

Cordless system for robust component detection on the production site


Track & Trace
Fingerprint App

Component identification via smartphone app

For fast, easy identification – no matter where and without additional sensors


Track & Trace
Fingerprint Test

Successful application in the production line

The test stand enables precise planning of the technology for later use in the production line.