Lot control is a powerful inventory management tool that can be integrated into Warehouse Management Systems. While not every warehouse requires lot control software, it provides valuable benefits and control when needed.
This blog post will discuss the concept of lot control, how it works alongside inventory management system software, and the benefits it offers to warehouse owners and decision-makers.
Understanding Lot Control
Lot control, or inventory lot control, refers to the concept of tracking inventory in warehouses and grouping items based on factors such as expiration date, batch, and date of entry or exit from the warehouse. For instance, consider a pharmaceutical warehouse:
When a laboratory manufactures a batch of a specific product, the entire batch is referred to as a “lot.” Each lot has a unique identifying lot number, which indicates the expiration date for all products within that lot.
When products arrive at your warehouse tied to the same lot number, inventory lot control software ensures that all products from that batch are shipped before their expiration date. Without lot control software, inventory can languish on the shelf and cause losses to you and your client.
Inventory lot control is an essential feature for businesses that deal with perishable or serialized products, as well as highly regulated items. By using lot control, businesses can optimize their inventory rotation, reduce waste, manage product recalls, and ensure customer satisfaction.
The lot number is a unique identifier for a specific batch of products. A batch refers to a group of products that were produced or manufactured together and share the same lot number.
With lot control, you can group items based on the lot number. This helps prevent perishable goods from going stale or rotting, reduces waste, and ensures that products are being shipped before their expiration date.
Key Functions of Inventory Lot Control
Lot control offers increased control over your inventory by allowing you to “tag” a product with its expiration date, set inventory rotation, and ensure that products nearing their expiration date are shipped first. Furthermore, lot control can:
- 1. Manage serial numbers of your inventory
- 2. Handle units of measure applied to the inventory in your warehouse
- 3. Organize your warehouse by providing the exact location of specific items in your inventory at any time.
Additionally, lot control manages the lot numbers of both inbound and outbound products, ensuring you are covered for returns and exchanges.
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The Value of Lot Control Software
Lot control is particularly valuable for shipping perishable products, serialized products, or even highly regulated items. It is also useful for warehouses with special areas such as a temperature-controlled space, or when different products across your inventory have lot numbers attached to them. Here are some specific examples of how lot control software can benefit your warehouse:
- Track Expiration Dates: This software enables you to manage lot numbers and track your inventory’s expiration dates effectively. A cloud-based system allows for seamless communication between your warehouse and governing bodies, such as the FDA, ensuring compliance with regulations.
- Consistency Across Different Batches of the Same Product: For items like paint, steel, or wood, different batches may have slight variations. Lot control software allows you to track and pick items from the same batch, ensuring consistency for customers and preventing potential dissatisfaction.
- Optimize Inventory Rotation: Inventory lot control software enables businesses to utilize inventory rotation methods such as Last In First Out (LIFO), First In First Out (FIFO), First Expiring First Out (FEFO), or a custom method tailored to your specific needs. This enables better inventory management and reduces waste and spoilage by ensuring that products with shorter shelf lives are shipped out first.
- Manage Serial Numbers: Inventory lot control software effectively manages serial numbers by associating each unique product with its corresponding serial number, allowing for precise tracking and verification throughout the supply chain. This level of granularity helps prevent errors, identify counterfeit products, and ensures that customers receive the correct items in a timely manner.
- Organize Warehouse: By integrating this software, organizing your warehouse based on lot numbers becomes tremendously easier, ensuring efficient tracking and control of inventory.
- Manage Product Recalls: In the event of a product recall, having lot control software in place enables you to quickly identify the affected products in your warehouse, comply with regulatory requirements, and protect both consumers and your business. The FDA requires a list of all lot numbers involved in recalls within the hour, having software to do this for you instead of taking on this task by hand could save you from costly fines or consumer distrust.
- Returns and Exchanges: When it comes to returns and exchanges, lot control software streamlines the process by maintaining a record of the original lot numbers and serial numbers for each product. This enables warehouse staff to accurately track and process returned items, ensuring that they are properly reintegrated into the inventory or disposed of according to established procedures, ultimately minimizing potential losses and maintaining customer satisfaction.
Seamless Integration of Lot Control Software with Inventory Management
When inventory is uploaded into your Warehouse Management System, you’ll have the ability to add identifying pieces of information such as expiration dates or serial numbers. Your WMS stores that inventory information, and you can set your inventory rotations, such as LIFO, FIFO, or FEFO.
When an expiration date passes, the software notifies you, allowing you to decide what to do with the expired inventory. Establishing clear procedures for handling expired products- whether that involves returning, disposing, or repurposing them- can further optimize warehouse operations.
With lot control software, you can track information for both incoming and outgoing shipments, streamlining inventory management and increasing overall efficiency. This functionality is particularly useful when dealing with inventory replenishment, returns, or exchanges, as the system already contains the necessary product information, making the process more efficient and reducing the likelihood of errors.
Determining if Lot Control Software is the Right Fit for Your Warehouse
While lot control software may not be necessary for every warehouse, it’s essential to understand its value and capabilities. If your warehouse deals with perishable products, highly regulated items, or situations that require precise inventory tracking, lot control software could be the right solution for you. As your warehouse operations grow and evolve, it’s wise to keep lot control in mind as a potential tool to enhance efficiency and productivity.
If you’re unsure whether lot control software is suitable for your warehouse, consider your current and future inventory management needs, the types of products you handle, and any regulatory requirements that may apply. By evaluating these factors, you can make an informed decision about implementing lot control software.
Staying Ahead with Lot Control Software
Embracing lot control software can provide your warehouse with a competitive advantage, ensuring inventory accuracy, reducing waste, improving customer satisfaction, and complying with industry regulations. As technology continues to advance and the demands on warehouses increase, adopting an inventory management solution that includes lot control can position your business for long-term success.
In conclusion, lot control software provides an effective way to manage inventory in your warehouse by grouping items according to their expiration date, batch, or date of entry/exit from the warehouse. It offers an extra layer of control over inventory, enabling you to track products, manage serial numbers, and organize your warehouse. Whether you are shipping perishable, serialized, or highly regulated items, or have a special location in your warehouse, inventory software can provide value to your business by reducing losses, avoiding mistakes, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
If you’d like to learn more about inventory lot control software and how it can benefit your warehouse, feel free to contact us below. Our team of experts can help you assess your current inventory management processes and identify the best solutions to optimize your warehouse operations, ensuring that your business remains competitive and efficient in today’s fast-paced e-commerce landscape.
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