12 benefits of lot tracking to your inventory & the waste-free world
Whether you are in food, pharmaceuticals, electronics, or other industries, a lot and serial tracking tool that is integrated into your inventory- or warehouse management solution gives you advanced traceability and control over your inventory.
In the current Eco-friendly environment, waste is systematically reduced in labeling and packaging, and the distribution of products is now being reshaped by technologies that allow marking directly onto products.
We look at the 12 major benefits of lot and serial tracking and discuss how each of these gives your warehouse a boost in efficiency, waste reduction, and accuracy.
Lot vs Serial Tracking: what’s the difference?
We have no doubt that you’re aware of what it is – but we’re going to look at the implications of each within your industry, and how you can manage your inventory better.
- Lot tracking is a bulk of the traceability required by distributors or pharmaceuticals, food, fabric, and fireworks – knowing the numbers in your inventory, the date of manufacture, and the expiry (if applicable) of these items helps you to trace and track information on these products that may not be otherwise available.
- Serial tracking is particular to a single product within a batch, and this unique identifier helps control the item throughout the distribution chain, as well as during warranty queries, insurance requests, and after-sales service. Most often, serial numbers are found on electronics, appliances, and vehicular parts.
How tracking requirements may change
With the improvements in print and laser technology, a new way of tracing and controlling food, pharmaceuticals, and other items that cannot be traditionally marked is arising.
A reduction in packaging and waste is becoming an unavoidable trend, and so individual food items – and other perishables and consumables – are being labelled with Co2 marking or laser technology, with individual barcodes, expiry dates, origins, and manufacture information included.
The tracing of these products has become in-depth, readily available, and Eco-friendly – meaning your warehouse needs to stay ahead of these developments to be able to track, trace, and report on individual items and their batches.
It’s a good idea to ensure you have lot and serial tracking available to you as a tool to allow you to integrate and update how these products are traced: serial numbers, batches, and lots will need to be tracked according to how they are marked and transported – not simply what the product is.
Variances in this marking and traceability need to be managed with an integrated, capable lot and serial tracking tool.
How a Lot & Serial Tracking tool like Supply Chain Junction’s WMS can help your business
1. Stay on top of technology changes
As mentioned above, the marking, packaging, and traceability solutions you deal with will be changing as technology and Eco-friendly principles drive them. A fully integrated tracking solution can make the difference between your distribution processes being left behind or leading the field in technology-ready efficiency.
2. Remove human error
Even without changing technology, tracking and tracing product within the supply chain using manual processes is rife with landmines of human error. Ensuring that you can electronically capture the information without the error will help you to streamline your inbound and outbound processes.
3. Enable the printing of standardised bar code labels
Linked to the reduction of human error, your tracking tool should give you the ability to print standardised and consistent bar codes for the incoming and outgoing stock. This allows you to improve the efficiency, consistency, and reliability of your inventory management.
4. Improve your quality control
Keeping tabs on your inventory also means being able to manage expiry, breakage, and supplier issues before the problems reach their end-users. With so much traceability available, you can identify the root of quality issues and reduce the spoiled, broken, or poorly manufactured items based on source, lot, batch, or transport paths.
5. Manage product recalls with advanced traceability
Going hand-in-hand with quality control, your products should be tracked to the end of their supply chain journey. If the manufacturer or producer issues a recall, the information you’ve stored must help you to retrieve the stock and replace, refund, and review the batches or lots that have been distributed.
6. Stay on top of regulatory and compliance documentation
In food, pharmaceuticals, explosives, and more, the regulatory governing bodies involved have extremely rigid guidelines to follow with regard to distribution, storage, sales, and supply. Your responsibility to these governing bodies is made simpler by ensuring your inbound and outbound stock is tracked, authorised, and recorded in full.
7. Improve your reporting
Your reporting to suppliers, shareholders, and management is reliant on accurate, real-time data. With the benefits listed above, your reporting can be real-time, comprehensive, and informative, with accurate data representing your inventory (or supply chain) performance from start to finish.
8. Manage warranties
If you are in the distribution of vehicles, parts, electronics, and appliances, your warranty management must be up-to-date and easily referenced. Time frames, serial numbers, manufacture dates, and condition of goods can be logged by batch, lot, or serial number.
9. Manage returns seamlessly
When returns of product are made, you can trace the original path of the product to the end-user, and refund or re-enter the product – the information gained will show you where the product originated, the quality checks done, the shipping routes, and the outlet it was sold in, to give you recourse should you need it.
10. Gain accurate data for manufacturer rebates
Some manufacturers give rebates on products based on percentage sold, purchase agreements, or bulk supply. Keeping an accurate log of your stock purchase vs. distributed will let you report this to the manufacturer, but also allow you to weigh up whether the rebate is worth what you are making off the stock.
11. Greater inventory control
As you can see, the ultimate goal and sign of success here is a 360˚ view of your stock movements, with greater control over your inbound and outbound processes.
12. Reduce theft and losses
The result of greater control over your inventory is the reduction of theft, losses, obsolescence, and spoilage of goods, with better quality coming in, staying in, and being distributed on time.
See how a strategic implementation of your WMS can help you to optimise and improve your warehouse processes in order to help support your business objectives: