Using Version Control Software for Audit Trails in Manufacturing

How to easily prepare comprehensive audit trails in manufacturing.

Audit trails and change logs are the foundation of many audit processes in manufacturing. Even so, many manufacturers and suppliers rely on time-consuming methods to prepare audit trails, document changes to their production processes, and compare project versions. Thankfully, there is another way. This article will discuss what audit trails should consist of, why they are particularly important in manufacturing audits, and how version control software can help manufacturers more easily comply with audit requirements.

What is an audit trail?

In manufacturing, an audit trail is a log of all changes made to the manufacturing process. To put it simply, audit trails document who changed what, when, where, and why. A thorough audit trail document includes metadata like the date and time of a change, identification of who made the change, a description of the specific changes made, and comments about the reason for the change.

Audit Trails in Manufacturing

How important are audit trails in manufacturing?

While comprehensive audit trails can be valuable in any business, they are particularly important in the manufacturing industry. Why? Today’s manufacturers and suppliers are constantly improving and optimizing their production processes. Some of these goals can be to increase output, reduce downtime, improve product quality, reduce waste, or offer wider product ranges and customizations. A continued number of control processes and automated devices are being used to meet these goals, significantly expanding the quantity of data that manufacturers are managing on a day-to-day basis. This makes audit trails in manufacturing even more important.

Audit trails can be particularly valuable for suppliers in manufacturing. Clear and consistent audit documentation signals the importance of quality to manufacturers. In turn, this gives them confidence in the suppliers’ ability to deliver on their promises. Suppliers that use a version control software for audit trails can also save time and effort when complying with the varying requirements for documentation from one manufacturer to another.

How can version control software help with audit documentation in manufacturing?

Version control software for manufacturing is specifically designed to track who changed what, when, where, and why for any of the device and data types used throughout the production plant. This streamlines the change documentation process and ensures that audit trails are always comprehensive, accurate, and up to date.

Because most manufacturers and suppliers use hardware from many different device manufacturers, it is best to choose a software like versiondog that can work with a wide variety of PLCs, HMIs, SCADAs, robots, network switches, scanners, and more. This ensures that they can use a single strategy to manage audit documentation for all of their important data.

Consistency

One of the biggest challenges to audit trail documentation in manufacturing is consistency. If manufacturers are relying on personnel to manually track and log changes, they are taking an unnecessary risk.

A version control software like versiondog tracks both authorized and unauthorized changes automatically. Gone are the days of meticulously writing down changes in a notepad, or worse, seeing changes go undocumented. Version control software automatically tracks and documents who made changes, what the changes were, and when the changes were made. versiondog goes one step further and requires users to input a “change reason” before checking in a new version as well. This ensures that all personnel are documenting changes properly. With versiondog, audit trails are accurate, comprehensive, and significantly easier to generate.

Security

Manual audit documentation is simply not secure enough for today’s manufacturing environments. With version control software, administrators can easily manage which users have access and editing rights to their project data. A high level of control over user rights guarantees that no unauthorized user can make changes to audit documentation or to the process data itself.

With versiondog, administrators can manage rights by individual user or by user group. Users or user groups can be given the rights to view or make changes to data in the versiondog project tree as broadly as by plant area or specifically as by individual device. This level of control keeps audit trails secure while simplifying the data management process.

Efficiency

One of the benefits of using a version control software for audit documentation is increased efficiency. After all, how much time do engineers waste on manually documenting changes? How much time is spent on gathering audit documentation? Worse, how much time is wasted if human error or negligence derails the audit process? In the manufacturing industry, audits are too important to take these chances on.

Version control software like versiondog allows manufacturers and suppliers to generate complete change history for any device or document with the click of a button. versiondog even graphically compares versions so that engineers and maintenance personnel can focus on truly optimizing the production process rather than spending time manually documenting changes or deciphering differences.

Learn More about versiondog

Don’t wait for an unsuccessful audit to start evaluating your data management processes. Let versiondog cover your bases with centralized version control, automatic backups, and easier audit trail documentation. Schedule a demo to learn more.

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