Traceability in continuous processes : applied to ore refinement processes

Abstract: Introduction and purpose: Traceability is central for the identification of the root cause(s) behind a product deviation and thus to achieve a product and process quality that is both high and even. Continuous processes contain several characteristics complicating traceability which are not usually discussed in the scientific literature. The overall purpose of this thesis is to provide a theoretical framework for traceability and to test and develop methods for traceability in continuous processes. Design/methodology/approach: A literature review and interviews with engineers in continuous processes were performed in order to identify existing traceability theories and applications as well as characteristics complicating traceability in continuous processes. In addition, experiments evaluating traceability applications in three continuous processes were conducted at the Swedish iron ore refinement company Loussavaara Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB). Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), chemical tracer, and ideal flow simulations were, for example, used within the studied applications.Findings: A theoretical framework for traceability in continuous processes is outlined based on existing scientific literature. Several traceability methods suitable for continuous processes are described and illustrated within the framework. Furthermore, the complicating characteristics in continuous processes that each method may deal with are described. This thesis also presents and illustrates how traceability may be achieved in three continuous processes operating within ore refinement industries.Research limitations/implications: The presented research gives an insight into traceability theory and more specifically into traceability problems in continuous processes. However, the empirical results from the experiments are based on three specific processes, and research in other processes should be performed to validate the results.Practical implications: The presented results illustrate how to increase the ability to trace, track, and predict the product location in processes where traceability previously has been difficult.Originality/value: Prior research has primarily focused on discontinuous processes. By contrast, this thesis presents traceability from a continuous process perspective as well as the design and development of traceability applications for three of these processes.