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July 22, 2021

Companies that manufacture, hold, and sell short-dated or potentially harmful products run their businesses under a lot of regulatory as well as moral pressure. Keeping expiration dates under control and being able to provide tracking documentation upon request have become an industry requirement as well as a prerequisite for a good name. To meet the high safety standards and keep clients happy, small product-centered businesses go with lot-level inventory tracking.

What processes are optimized via inventory management software with lot number tracking?

When you receive and sell a lot of identical products that come in batches and might easily have varying expiry dates, being on top of all the things going on in and beyond your warehouse is simply unmanageable. Getting an inventory management application with batch tracking functionality is the answer.

The effects of being able to assign and track lot numbered items as they move through the supply chain are far-reaching in the most positive sense:

  • safety/regulatory compliance is made easy with the ability to quickly export tracking data
  • recalls of specific lots are timely and carried out swiftly thanks to the link between sold goods and customers/suppliers
  • granular visibility into inventory movements down to the lot-level - one starts seeing lots from the moment products are received into the warehouse up to when they get out of the door
  • spoilage is eliminated through expiration date tracking
  • the FIFO(First In- First Out) and FEFO (First Expired-First Out) fulfillment logic options allow selling off the earliest-expiring lots, minimizing the landing costs and keeping your products fresh

How does batch tracking work?

Lot or batch number tracking is available as an advanced inventory feature in some stock management apps. HandiFox Online, as an example of such software, offers both serial and lot number tracking complemented by expiry date tracking. Let’s zoom in on this.

Lot number and expiry date tracking can be enabled while creating a new item or editing an existing one. The numbers can be external and recorded from existing labels on packages or user-assigned, manually or through barcode scanning.

HandiFox allows adding lot-numbered items when you receive, count, transfer, invoice, get paid for, and document returns of inventory.

HandiFox allows tracking serial numbers, lot numbers, expiration dates as well some of these parameters in combination (for example, lot numbers+expiration dates).

As part of the initial set-up you need to define what the Auto Pick option would be as it sets the logic which the system will utilize to arrange items on transactions. The First In - First Out (FIFO) method lists items in the order of how they were checked into the system (from the oldest to the latest). First Expired- First Out (FEFO) is a fulfillment method that lets you clear out soon expiring articles first, irrespective of when they were received into the warehouse.

The ability to write off expiring/expired goods reduces the risk of selling unsafe products and streamline expense reporting. HandiFox generates a new counting session as a result of this inventory write-off which is then found in QuickBooks Online as an inventory adjustment.

Lot numbers in action

HandiFox offers a dedicated Serial/Lot numbers page for quick and easy navigation through serial/lot number tracked inventory. Here, you can assign lots, adjust their quantities, see how they are distributed across multiple locations, and check their transaction history.

On transactions, the system gives you a heads-up about quantity discrepancies by highlighting the lines’ in orange. As soon as you increase/decrease the quantity for some items and things start adding up, it changes to green. On invoices, the color change signals that quantities for specific lots do not tally with the total quantity for the lot number tracked item. The “New” notification appears when you have added new serials/lots that the app is not familiar with. You can also set their expiry dates right away.

On sales transactions, you can either manually add serials/lots you intend to sell to the customer or let the system suggest which serials/lots should be sold off based on the pre-defined tracking method (FIFO or FEFO).

HandiFox Online allows printing barcode labels with serial/lot number information. The hard copies of inventory and sales transactions reflect serials, lots and expiry dates which can be later referenced by the customer.

The entire product journey can be seen in the Transactions by Serial/Lot numbers report. Here you can use filters to narrow down the search or just look up a specific lot and run a report to see all of its movements, including who it was sold to, and, in case of a recall, quickly quality-check the other items under the same lot ID.

Lot number traceability and expiry date tracking add operational efficiency, quality control and confidence in managing your warehouse and sales operations. Watch this tutorial to get the hang of the SLED (serial/lot/expiration date) functionality.

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