A lot number is a unique number that identifies a batch of products within the same SKU based on the production date and manufacturing conditions. Lot number tracking software allows you to break identical products into the batches, or lots, and track them through the production and distribution cycle. If product defect or a problem is reported, a product distributor can always isolate a product batch that could be affected based on the lot number. Lot number tracking software 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 the recorded lot traceability information.
When Should We Use Lot Number Tracking / Serial Number Tracking?If you need to isolate a product batch that was produced under similar conditions you need to use lot number tracking. If you need to track each item individually for the traceability purpose, for warranty and repair, for item location tracking or for the assignment to the employees you need to use serial number tracking.
When do you need lot number tracking, 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 lot number tracking in the food & beverage manufacturing, medical industry, produce processing, custom manufacturing, and labs. Lot number tracking software allows you to isolate product lots under the product SKU / part number, and track lot numbers separately through the production and distribution process. With the lot number tracking you can quickly find lot numbers of ingredients used in each lot of the finished products and where each batch of the finished product was distributed. This is very important in case of a problem or recall, and allows you to recall only a small portion of the affected products based on the lot number.
If you want to implement this kind of inventory traceability, tracking inventory by SKU / part number is not enough. You will need to have separate lot numbers under the same SKU to be able to isolate product lots that were produced under the same conditions. Each product batch produced on the same date, shift and under the same conditions gets a unique lot number or batch number. Under this scenario you may have two Stainless steel 18-8, 1/4" bolts with that were produced under different conditions and have the same SKU but different lot numbers. For the 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 product lot was distributed. Then, if it turns out that a specific product lot was defective, you can quickly locate all affected items. This is the purpose of the inventory traceability and lot number tracking.
Tracking inventory by serial number vs lot numberWhen you want to track each inventory item individually, you need to track it using a serial number. Serialized inventory items are usually called assets, not inventory. A serial number uniquely identifies the asset, 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 software installed on it, 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 the serial number.
Any electronics, equipment, and other valuable assets are usually tracked by the serial number.
Tracking inventory by SKU vs lot numberYou only need lot number tracking if inventory traceability is important for you. If your main concern is inventory stock in different locations and how this inventory was used you can track inventory by SKU / part number. The same inventory items will have the same SKU / part number and will be a single inventory line item.
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. As a rule, generic supplies / materials / consumables like this (bolts, nuts, office paper, toner, etc.) are tracked by SKU.
Tracking Lot Numbers And Serialized Inventory In The QR Inventory SoftwareIn QR Inventory software you can enter the smallest product unit that you want to track, whether it is serial number, lot number or SKU, as a separate line item. This option gives you more control of each product lot, and still allow you to review the total stock and usage for the specific SKU / part number. Alternatively, you can keep lot numbers under the main SKU, as it is done in a majority of the lot number tracking software systems.
Tracking inventory by lot number in QR Inventory software.For the lot number tracking in QR Inventory software you have two options:
- 1. Enter each product lot as a separate inventory line item, with a unique lot number but the same product name for the same SKU. You will be able to track each lot number separately, and also get summary reports on the product stock and usage based on the product name.
- 2. Enter only main SKU as an inventory line item, and receive product lots under this SKU using QR Inventory Receive Lots transaction. Once product lots are received you will be able to track each lot individually through the process, and access details on each lot number under the parent product SKU.
Which of these options you will choose depends on your inventory management goals and business workflow. Option 1 is better if you want to have reports and views of the individual product lots, and want to have lot numbers of the multiple SKUs on the same report. With option 2, all reports and views will be for the main inventory SKUs, and you need to go deeper to review to lot breakdowns for each item.
Option 2 may work better for you if:
- You have many custom parameters for the main inventory SKU that should be valid for each products lot, plus need to add specific custom parameters for each lot
- You want to receive automatic alerts when inventory SKU stock falls below re-order point
- You want to link QR Inventory to your ERP software where lot numbers are under the main product SKU, and want to keep both software systems aligned
Regardless of which of the above methods you are using for the lot number tracking in QR Inventory software, you will be able to track lot numbers in real time with a smartphone and QR code scanning in QR Inventory mobile application. In QR Inventory software reports you will be able to check the current location, status and history of each product lot, from receiving or production to the usage in the final product or distribution to the customers.
Tracking inventory by serial number in QR Inventory software.For tracking serialized inventory enter or import all serialized items into QR Inventory software 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 software knows that these are the same items.
You can track each asset individually by the serial number, but also review stock and location of each asset type. For example, if you track compressors, power washers, drills or other equipment and tools by the serial number, you still will be able to see how many compressors, power washers or drills 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 the QR Inventory software: enter asset 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 numbers for this asset type, or use assets view to see individual assets.
Tracking inventory by SKU / part number in QR Inventory software.To track inventory by part number, enter each line item into the system as inventory, and set its part 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 inventory item. You will then be able to track inventory stock for each part number in all locations, review inventory transactions and usage reports, set automatic low inventory alerts.
Lot Number Traceability In QR Inventory SoftwareUse lot number tracking or serial number tracking to achieve end-to-end inventory traceability. You can track individual product lots from receiving to distribution, and track lot numbers of materials and components used in the composite products (assemblies).
How do I achieve components and final products traceability using QR Inventory?To achieve inventory 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 you need to record lot numbers or serial numbers of all components. When you ship finished goods to the retailer / distributor, you need to record the shipment in QR Inventory online software or mobile application.
To find all inventory with a specific lot number check item details report for this lot number. Item details screen shows you all relevant lot number transactions in one place: in what finished products this lot number was used, where this lot number was distributed and when, what do you still have in storage and in which locations.
More information on the lot number tracking and achieving traceability with the QR Inventory software is available here, and more general lot traceability information is available in this blog article.
Lot number tracking of the assembly components of product batch ingredientsYou 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 and apply this list to all serialized assemblies with the same generic composition.
The composition list will already contain all required components and the quantity of each component.
When physically building an assembly on the shop floor company employees will scan lot numbers of the used components against this generic composition list. 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 lot numbers of components used in the serialized assembly as you add them and enter component quantity.
Regardless of which lot number tracking method you choose inventory stock will be automatically updated, and you will be able to review lot numbers of components that were usedin each serialized assembly.
Splitting product batches into the units for shipment.After you prepare a product batch you may need to split it up for shipping. QR Inventory accommodates this situation by allowing you to split product batch into units after the batch is produced. 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 the 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.