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Tracking Lot Numbers And Traceability In The QR Inventory Software

What Is A Lot Number

A lot number is a unique code that identifies a batch of products manufactured during the same run under the same conditions. Tracking inventory by lot number, or batch number, allows companies to achieve traceability and quickly react to the product defects. 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 lot traceability data.

Lot Number Tracking And Traceability In The QR Inventory Software

A QR Inventory software helps you easily and efficiently trace lot numbers through the process without any physical paperwork. Field or shop floor employees only need to scan a QR code using a mobile app, and record lot update (transfer, use in the product, shipment to a client, etc.). A mobile app updates data in the cloud database in real time - no manual recordings or double entries are required. You can always access lot traceability info on demand from anywhere.

Questions on lot number vs serial number vs SKU

When should we use lot number tracking?

If you need to isolate a product batch that was produced under similar conditions you need to use lot number tracking. Lot number tracking allows you to trace each materials batch from production to sale or use in a finished product. If there is a problem with the specific batch, you can quickly find all products that used this batch, where these products were distributed, and issue a recall. With the accurate lot number tracking you can issue a recall fast and limit its scope to a minimum.

When should we use serial number tracking?

Serial numbers are issued for the assets that are unique and should be tracked individually. Usually these are tools, equipment or IT assets. You may have multiple tools or equipment that are exactly the same - same manufacturer, make, model, etc. A serial number helps you differentiate items that are the same, and keep an accurate track of each asset location, assignment, movement, service and repair history.

What is the purpose of the lot number tracking?

You need to track inventory by lot 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 differentiate product batches produced at the same time under the same conditions. You can then track lots separately through the production and distribution process.

Tracking inventory by SKU vs lot number

You 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 or part number. The same inventory items will have the same SKU 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 and consumables are tracked by SKU.

Questions on lot number tracking in the QR Inventory software

In the 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.

What options do we have for lot number tracking?

For the lot number tracking in the QR Inventory software you have two options:

  • 1. Tracking each lot as a separate inventory line item.. 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. Entering lot numbers under the main SKU. Enter only main SKU as an an inventory line item. You can then receive product lots in the QR code scanning mobile app using the Receive Lots transaction. Once product lots are received you will be able to track and trace each lot through the process. You will be able to access details and history of each lot number under the parent product SKU.

Which lot number tracking option should we use?

Which of these lot number tracking 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 lot breakdown for each SKU.

Option 2 may work better for you if:

  • You have many custom parameters for the main SKU that should be valid for each products lot, and also need to add custom data for each lot number
  • You want to receive alerts when total SKU stock falls below pre-set min inventory stock level
  • You want to link a QR Inventory software to your ERP system where lot numbers are under the main product SKU, and want to keep both systems aligned.

Regardless of which of the above lot number tracking options you choose, you will be able to track product batches in real time using a mobile app and QR code scanning. You will be able to check location, status and history of each lot number via a cloud software web interface.

How do we track inventory by serial number?

You need to enter or import serialized items into the QR Inventory software as assets, not inventory. Enter serial number as item ID. Use the same name for the same assets that differ only by the serial number - that's how a QR Inventory software knows that these are the same items.

How do we check total inventory count for serialized items?

You can review the location and transactions history for each serialized asset, and at the same time check total inventory stock of each asset type. Use Inventory count by name report to do this. You can also set a main asset & inventory dashboard to consolidated lots to see this data. You can click through each asset type to see a list of all serial numbers and their location.

Can we speed up serialized inventory entry into the software?

If you have a list of serialized assets, you can import this list into the QR Inventory software using an Import link. If you do not have a list, you can use the Bulk Add Assets link to speed up serialized assets entry. This option allows you to enter all asset data and location once, then paste or scan in all serial numbers.

Lot number traceability questions

What is traceability

Traceability refers to the ability to isolate batches of product under the same SKU using lot numbers, and document everything that happens to each lot number using traceability software. Traceability software allows you to keep track of info on each product batch, trace each batch from origin to the final destination, and document everything that happens on each production step. You can review the data and history of each lot number via traceability software reports. If any problems are discovered, traceability software allows you to quickly find a lot number of the defective batch, and access all batch details: production data, history and distribution. You can quickly find all affected products, issue a recall fast and keep recall scope to an absolute mimimum.

How do I achieve end to end traceability using a QR Inventory software?

To achieve end to end 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 online or in the mobile app.

To find all inventory with a specific lot number check item details report for this lot number. Item details screen shows all info and transactions for the selected lot number in one place. You can see at a glance in what finished products this lot number was used, where it was distributed and when, what do you still have in storage and where.

More info on the lot number tracking and traceability in the QR Inventory software is available here, and general lot traceability info is available in this blog article.

How do we track lot numbers and serial numbers used in the assemblies?

You can track lot numbers of assembly componentsin two different ways:

  • Scan lot numbers against a generic composition list. You can create a generic list of components and apply this list to all serialized assemblies with the same composition. When physically building an assembly on the shop floor, company employees will scan lot numbers of the used pars against this generic components list. This is the fastest and easiest way of tracking lot numbers of components, assuming that you know assembly composition befoe hand.
  • Build serialized assembly on the fly. Sometimes you cannot tell what exact components and quantities you will be using. In this case, you can create ad hoc assemblies on the fly. You just need to scan lot numbers of components as you add them, and enter 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 used in each serialized assembly.

How can we split product batches into the units for shipment?

After you prepare a product batch you may need to split it up for shipping to different clients. A QR Inventory software can accommodates this use case. It allows you to split product batch into units after the batch is produced. To do this, go to the batch details page and click Split Into Units button. From this point, you can track distribution of batch unit separately. If there are any problems, you can quickly get a list of all customers where this batch was distributed.

Mobile Inventory Tracking With QR Inventory