Lot Number Tracking & Traceability In QR Inventory Software.

Use QR Inventory software to track lot numbers / serial numbers, achieve traceability and trace components through an entire supply chain without physical paperwork.

Lot number tracking allows you to break identical products into the batches, or lots, based on the manufacturing conditions. If product defect or problem is reported, product manufacturer can always isolate a product batch that could be affected based on the lot number. Lot number tracking gives you an option to react to the problems faster, recall only a small number of affected products, and find the reason for the problem based on recorded traceability information.

When Should We Use Lot Number Tracking / Serial Number Tracking?

Any time you need to isolate product batch that was produced under similar conditions you need to use lot number tracking. Any time you need to track each item individually, either for the traceability purpose, for warranty and repair tracking, or for tracking item location, usage and assignment to the employees, you need to use serial number tracking.

When do you need to track inventory by lot number / batch number, and what is the purpose of the lot number?

You need to track inventory by lot number / serial number if you need to achieve traceability. You will usually need this ability in food & beverage manufacturing, medical industry, produce processing, custom manufacturing, and labs. The purpose of the lot number tracking is to isolate components batches / lots that were produced under the same conditions. You should be able to quickly find lot number of ingredients for any finished product, and find where each batch of the finished product was distributed in case of a problem or recall.
If you want to implement inventory traceability, tracking inventory by the line item number / SKU is not enough. You will need to divide inventory items that are the same and have the same SKU into lots / batches that were produced under similar conditions (usually on the same date / shift plus there may be additional parameters by which inventory is combined in the lots / batches). Each batch gets its unique lot number or batch number. Under this scenario you may have two Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" bolts that were produced under different conditions and have different lot numbers. For inventory traceability you should be able to tell them apart. You should know lot numbers of all components that you were using to assemble the finished product, and where / when each batch was distributed. Then, if it turns out that a specific batch was defective, you can quickly locate all affected items. This is the purpose of inventory traceability, and the purpose of tracking inventory by lot number.

When do you need to track inventory by serial number?

When you want to track each item individually, you need to track it using serial number. Serial number uniquely identifies the item, and there can only be one item with a specific serial number. For example, if you are tracking IT assets (computers, routers, hard drives), as a rule you want to know where each individual computer is, what is installed, its life-time history and transactions. You may have multiple computers which are exactly the same, but in order to track each computer individually you need to track them by serial number.
Any electronics, equipment, and other valuable items are usually tracked by serial number.

When to track inventory by SKU / part number / line item number?

If your main concern is inventory stock in different locations and you do not need inventory traceability - use SKU / part number / line item number to track inventory. All inventory items that are exactly the same will have the same SKU / part number / line item number. For example, you may have a box of Hex bolts, Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" - all bolts of these type will have the same SKU. Normally you would not care which specific bolt from this box you are using - you just want to know how many you have in stock and when is it time to re-order. Most of the generic supplies / materials / consumables like this (bolts, nuts, office paper, toner, etc.) are usually tracked by line item number / part number / SKU.

How Should I Enter Lot Numbers / Serial Numbers For A Product In QR Inventory Software

You always need to enter the smallest product unit that you want to track, whether it is serial number, lot number or line item number, as a separate line item. QR Inventory provides several dashboards to view lot number / serial number inventory. On a regular dashboard you see a list of all lot numbers / serial numbers as a separate line item. On consolidated lots dashboard you have one line for each item, with item name and total quantity. Each line can be drilled down to see a list of all lot numbers / serial numbers for each item.

Tracking inventory by lot number / batch number.

To track inventory by lot number, enter each lot into the system separetely as inventory, and use lot number as item ID. As a rule, you will enter new inventory lot into the system on a smartphone when receiving each new batch in the warehouse, or on a factory floor as each new batch is produced. You can enter all lot / batch details (production date, shift, etc.). You can do this on a smartphone, or using a web dashboard - use a method that better fits your business process.
Use the same name for the batches of the same item (same SKU). For example all batches of Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" bolt will have a name Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" bolt, but different item ID numbers. With this setup, you will be able to track inventory by lot number, check all batch transactions, and locate all products where this batch was used as a component / ingredient. You also will be able to check total stock and location of all Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" bolts, regardless of their lot number.
Use Consolidated Lots view on the main inventory and assets dashboard to view items by line item number / part number, with the total inventory stock for each item. Click details to view all lot numbers / batches of this item, or use inventory view to see all lots.

Tracking inventory by serial number.

To track inventory by serial number, enter all serialized items as assets (unique items tracked individually). Enter serial number as item ID. Use the same name for the same assets that differ only by the serial number - that's how QR Inventory knows that these are the same items. You can track each asset individually by serial number, but also review stock and location of each asset type. For example, if you track compressors, thermostats or other similar equipment by serial number, you still will be able to see how many compressors you have in each location.
You do not have to enter all data for each single asset. Instead, you can bulk enter assets that are the same into QR Inventory: enter all information once, then scan in or paste all serial numbers. Use Bulk Add Assets link to do this.
Use Consolidated Assets view on the main inventory and assets dashboard to view assets by type, with inventory stock for each asset. Click details to view all serial for this asset type, or use assets view to see all individual assets.

Tracking inventory by part number / line item number / SKU.

To track inventory by part number, enter each line item into the system as inventory, and set its part number / line item number / SKU as item ID. In the above example with the Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" bolt, you will have one entry for this item. You will then be able to track stock of this item in each location, know all transactions for this item (how many where purchased when, how many where used for each project, etc.), and receive alert when you need to re-order.

Inventory Traceability

To achieve end-to-end traceability you need to track components, materials and finished product batches by lot number or serial number. You need to track lot numbers or serial numbers of all materials that go into a specific assembly or sub-assembly. This way you will always be able to trace back each product and all its components / ingredients.

How do I achieve components, materials and final products traceability using QR Inventory?

To achieve traceability, you should track all inventory - components, materials, ingredients and finished products - by either lot number or serial number.
If you are building assemblies or creating a product from multiple ingredients, be sure to record lot number or serial number of components that you are using. When you ship finished goods to the retailer / distributor, make sure you record where the item was shipped.
If you need to find out where all items with a specific lot number are, check item details report for this lot number - you will see all relevant transactions in one place: in what finished products the item was used, what was already distributed and where, what do you still have in storage and in what locations.
More information on lot traceability and achieving traceability with QR Inventory is available here, and more general traceability information is available in this blog article.

What is the best way to track lot number of the components of an assembly, or lot numbers of ingredients going into the food items?

You can track lot numbers of components / ingredients in two different ways:

  • Scan components lot numbers or serial numbers against a generic composition list. You can create a generic list of ingredients for the type of an assembly or product, then apply this list to all serialized assemblies or food product batches. The list will already contain the amount of ingredients needed for the assembly or product batch.
    When physically building an assembly or creating a new product batch, employees will scan lot numbers of the used components against a generic list. For example, generic list may include 3 bolts, while an employee will scan lot number PO12345 for the specific bolts he is using in this assembly.
    If you need to track serialized components, include each component as a separate line item. For example, your generic list may have right engine and left engine. When building an assembly, an employee will scan in serial number for the right engine, and serial number for the left engine.
  • Build serialized assembly on the fly. Scan items used for building an assembly as they are added, and enter quantity without using a list.
Regardless of which method you choose, all inventory will be automatically accounted for (used components subtracted from the stock), and you will be able to restore what components / ingredients where used for each assembly / product batch.

For the food production, I need to use asset-type assembly for each product batch, but then I need to send items from this batch to the different customers. How do I do that?

For the food items, you should use an asset-type assembly to record amount of ingredients used for an entire batch. For example, instead of recording how much butter, sugar and flour you had used for each cookie tray, you should record how much was used to produce the current cookie batch. However, when you start distributing this batch of cookies, you will want to track them by units (for example trays). Trays from the same batch can go to different locations.
QR Inventory accommodates this situation by allowing you to split product batch into units after the batch is produced. This way, you can create each product batch as an asset type assembly, and record lot numbers and amount of ingredients used for the entire batch once.
When the batch is produced, go to the batch details page and click Split Into Units button to split produced batch into multiple units. From this point, you can track each unit separately.

Lot Number Tracking And Product Traceability Through The Entire Supply Chain

Blockchain-based traceability solutions allow you to trace each lot number through the entire supply chain network, across corporate boundaries. This way you won't have to re-enter your supplier traceability information into your system, and won't have to come up with the ways to pass consolidated traceability information to your customers. The entire traceability trail is going to be available to all companies in a supply chain network, with no manual data entries or physical paperwork.

Does QR Inventory allow for cross-company traceability?

We are adding a product called Shared Traceability, which is based on the blockchain and mobile technologies. It is a very simple traceability solution (no setup required - start using right away) that allows participating supply chain partners to collect traceability information on the shop floor using a smartphone, and share it with the supply chain network. Each partner company tracks a lot number / serial number through their process, and all companies in a network have an immediate access to the complete traceability information. Shared Traceability can be used along with QR Inventory, or as a stand alone product. If you want to learn more about Shared Traceability, or try it out please let us know.

More Information On Lot Traceability

Lot Traceability With QR Inventory

Use mobile devices and barcode / QR code scanning to achieve complete traceability in minimal time, without physical paperwork or spreadsheets.    Learn More >>

Inventory Traceability With Barcode Scanning

Read this blog article for general information on inventory traceability and how mobile devices, QR code / barcode scanning and mobile forms can help you achieve traceability with minimum time and effort.    Learn More >>

QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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