Modern Inventory Management: QR Codes + NFC + Mobile Technology


Bill Of Materials And Assemblies Building: Assemblies & Kits Module FAQ

How to handle bill of materials, assembly building, lot number tracking and serialized assemblies in QR Inventory software, assemblies & kits module.

Different Assembly Types And Assembly Building Options

What are inventory type and asset type assemblies? Which one should I use?

The difference is very similar to the difference between inventory and assets.

Inventory type assemblies is something that you build from inventory items according to the bill of materials. You can have many instances of inventory type assemblies that are exactly the same and which you do not need to track individually. Your primarily interest is how many assemblies you have in stock, and how many you can build from available inventory. You do not need any traceability on them, and their components are tracked by SKU, not lot number or serial number. Inventory type assembly can be your finished product, but often they are intermediate products that you are using in the larger, custom made asset type assemblies.

Asset type assemblies are serialized assemblies that you need to track individually. Each asset type assembly has a unique ID / serial number that you use to track it's building and history. Asset type assemblies can include both assets and inventory, as well as sub-assemblies of both types. Since you do not know beforehand batch number or serial number of the components that you will install on each serialized assembly, your bill of materials for these assemblies will be a generic components list. When building each serialized assembly, you will scan actual lot number / serial number of a component against this list (see building asset type assemblies below for more details).

Can you list all situations when we need to use asset type assemblies?

You should use asset-type assemblies in the following situations:
  • You manufacture custom unique products for the clients on demand. Each product that you create is unique.
  • You need traceability for both parts and materials and finished products. You need to be able to restore what component batch or what serialized item is included in each assembly.
  • You need to track serialized items installed on the assembly for warranty, service and repair purposes. You want to record part replacement if needed.
  • You are a food or beverage manufacturer and require complete traceability, including materials, final products and products distribution.
  • You build an assembly in steps and need to track work in progress.

What are some examples of using inventory type assemblies?

Inventory type assemblies are generally used in the following situations:
  • You have smaller generic assemblies that you need to include into larger serialized assembly.
  • You put together generic items that do not require individual tracking or traceability.

Bill Of Materials

How do I create bill of materials for inventory type assembly?

When you create in inventory type assembly, you specify its composition by selecting items from your inventory and entering quantity. Inventory type assembly can include only inventory items, or other inventory-type assemblies. Bill of materials that you created is used to automatically adjust inventory levels when you are physically building an assembly on the shop floor, and for the forecast of inventory needed to build the assemblies.

How do I create bill of materials for asset type assemblies?

For asset type assemblies you may know the generic composition, but you do not know lot numbers / serial numbers of the components that will be included in each serialized assemblly before you actually build it. Sometimes you know exactly the generic items and their quantity, sometimes even the quantity may vary depending on the desired output quantity (e.g. 100 lbs of dough will require different quantity of ingredients than 10 lbs). Therefore, you have two options for asset type assembly bill of materials:
  • Create a generic composition list. If the composition and components quantity are pre-determined, you can create a generic composition list (e.g. 2 bolts, 3 nuts, right engine, left engine). In this list you give a general description of the items that need to be included in the assembly, and their quantity. When physically building an assembly on the shop floor, an employee will be able to pull generic list on a smartphone and scan actual lot numbers / serial numbers of the installed parts against the list.
    You can apply the same composition list to the multiple serialized assemblies with the same composition.
  • Ad Hoc building. If you cannot tell beforehand the exact quantity of materials that will be used, or may use several different lot numbers of the same ingredient, use ad hoc assembly building. In ad hoc assembly building, you scan each item / batch that you add to the assembly, and specify quantity.

Building And Tracking Assemblies

I created an assembly, but I don't see it in my inventory. Why?

When you create a new assembly, you create a listing that describes an assembly and possibly specifies bill of materials / generic composition list. At this point you do not have this assembly in your inventory. When you physically build an assembly from parts, then assembly (ies) are added to your inventory, and used parts are subtracted.

Do I have to scan each line item that I add to an assembly?

For asset type assemblies - yes, you need to specify lot number / serial number of each component or ingredient. For inventory type assembly, the composition is pre-determined by the bill of materials, so you do not have to. You can decide if you prefer to:
  • Scan each item that you add to assembly(ies) and enter quantity. If you do this, QR Inventory automatically determines quantity of inventory type assemblies that you had built (you can build more than one at the same time), adds these assemblies to inventory and subtracts used components from inventory. In order to build assemblies this way, your Build Assembly transaction should be of type transfer.
  • Scan an assembly after it is built and labeled, and specify quantity of built assemblies. If you do this, QR Inventory automatically determines quantity of used components, subtracts them from inventory, and adds assembly(ies) to the inventory. In order to build assemblies this way, your Build Assembly transaction should be of type in.

How do I track assemblies / final product distribution to the clients

Once assemblies are built, you can process inventory transactions on them just like with regular inventory and assets. Create a transaction Ship To Client, and create transaction properties to record client, tracking number(s), notes and any other parameters you need.

What if I need to distribute one batch to multiple clients? Or use one batch of an intermediate product in the multiple final products?

Often, when you are dealing with the food or beverage items, or lab samples, you may need to create batches of materials of different size / weight, and then use this material for multiple products or ship it to different clients. The material batch should be an asset type assembly, since you need to track all ingredients that go into it by lot numbers. However, asset type assemblies are unique, have quantity of one and are indivisible.

To deal with this situation, you should create each batch as an asset type assembly. Then, after batch is created and all components are added, use "Split Assembly Into Units" option (in the assembly list click Update, then click Split Assembly Into Units button on the bottom and enter quantity of units - lbs, oz, liters, trays, bottles of whatever your unit of measure is for the final product). This will convert the batch into inventory type assembly with specified quantity, and will divide all ingredients proportionally. At this point you can distribute / add this batch to multiple sources.

Traceability

How do I find all products that contain a specific batch?

Go to an assembly list, in Filter By dropdown list select Component ID, and enter lot number / serial number of the component. You will get a list of all assemblies that include specified component.

How do I find where final product with a specific lot number was distributed?

In the assemblies list, select ID in the filter by drop down list, and enter the batch number to find it. Click on the batch number. You will see all information about this batch, including all transactions and their destinations.

My final product batches include intermediate products consisting of multiple batches, etc. How do I see lot numbers of everything included in each batch?

When you check batch composition, either via the web interface or on a smartphone, the components that are assemblies are linked to their components lists, etc. You can drill down through all sub-assemblies / intermediate products in this manner until you get to the list of raw ingredients.

Can I also track the process (take measurements, record observations, record instruments or containers used in the batch production)?

Yes, you can do it if you add mobile data collection module. This module allows you to create custom mobile forms to collect all kinds of data you need. Optionally, for the long multistep processes, you can create custom workflows and link mobile forms to the workflow steps.

Can I record instruments, containers, tanks cleaning, maintenance and calibration?

Yes, you can use mobile data collection module to collect these data on a smartphone using custom mobile forms.