Lot tracking and traceability in manufacturing is the recording and reporting of all raw materials received and consumed in production, as well as all finished goods produced and shipped.
Lot inheritance functionality maintains the lineage of all raw materials and finished products, including co-products and by-products. By enforcing the capture and validation of lot numbers for all raw materials and finished goods at each step of the process, the system’s lot number tracking feature offers a graphical digital trail that can quickly be searched for a specific product.
Lot Traceability & Recall Challenges
Food, chemical, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical manufacturers alike all need lot traceability and recall capabilities. This is to quickly respond to product defects and hazards to avoid customer chargebacks and industry fines. In addition, it is to support one’s continuous improvement processes.
Many process manufacturers are challenged in identifying the right inventory that has issues because they do not have a comprehensive lot management process in place. Specifically, they need to employ lot tracking software that can quickly and accurately track and trace lot-controlled inventory from receiving to WIP to shipments.
Many process manufacturers who manually deal with lot management, using paper and/or spreadsheets, face challenges in industry regulation compliance and/or customer expectations.
1. Lot Number Creation
Lot numbers are created and assigned to delivered raw materials and finished goods. The lot number identifies the specific inventory’s cost, variable characteristics, and expiration date. It also identifies its associated PO, batch job or sales order. Any errors in creating lot numbers can have major implications for production and shipping.
2. Effective Lot Number Capture & Validation
Using paper to identify inventory and then sign off on receiving, quality, production and shipping tasks run the risk of someone selecting the wrong inventory. This is specifically the lot number that identifies the item and its expiration date. Entering this information at a workstation into a spreadsheet or a software application ‘after the fact’ is problematic, since the ‘touched’ product could not be validated on the spot to ensure it was the ‘right’ product.
‘Connecting the dots’ from receiving into production through to shipping is a major challenge when dealing with paper, even spreadsheets. It is time-consuming to gather, review and find all the ‘right’ data. If one uses paper, there is a need to safely store all the paperwork.
What Software Functionality Enables Users to Track and Trace Inventory?
Companies seeking effective lot tracking can opt for lot tracking software that eases the entire process, right from when inventory is received, produced finished goods, shipped, and moved across one’s facilities.
1. Automated Lot Number Creation
Advanced process manufacturing software captures vendor lot numbers at the time of receiving and then auto-generates internal lot numbers, which are cross referenced to the vendor numbers. Lot numbers are auto-generated for produced finished goods, as well as co-products and by-products, by advanced process manufacturing software.
Advanced process manufacturing software supports user defined criteria for generating lot numbers based upon dates, PO or batch number, sequential numbering and other values.
2. Lot Number Capture & Validation
Managing lot controlled raw material and finished goods requires lot number to be captured and validated from receiving into WIP to shipping. When users perform inventory related tasks using mobile devices, such as receiving, putaway, picking & issuing and shipping, the screens prompt users to enter or scan lot numbers, and will notify users when the wrong inventory is selected. Lot number capture and validation is also performed during inspections, physical inventories and cycle counts.
3. Detailed Reporting
Bidirectional traceability tool tracks suspect products from vendor delivery into WIP to customer order shipments, from shipment to WIP to delivery, and anywhere across these processes. The traceability graphical display offers a nodal map of receiving, production, and shipping steps. For each node, the user can drill down into PO/ Batch Job/Sales Order details as well as inventory levels and quality control test results.
Using the traceability tool’s search criteria, a user can pinpoint the product they are looking for and generate customized recall letters, thus limiting the scope of a recall to just that specific lot(s). With just a push of a button, the lot traceability toll can meet and exceed GFSI BRC/SQF product traceability and recall mandates.
Advantages of BatchMaster Lot Tracking Software
Lot tracking is important for the process manufacturing industries as it provides a transparent, in-depth, and detailed view of any process right from inventory, and production, to the shipment of the product. The application goes much further than manual record-keeping on paper or using basic spreadsheets. In this way, the product can be tracked and traced more easily. It also gives real-time insight into the production process, allowing process manufacturers to identify bottlenecks.
BatchMaster Software provides industry-leading lot traceability functionality, which enables instant lot recall by tracking through the entire process where any lot number was used. This is done at all levels, and in all transactions simultaneously. It keeps track of raw materials used in producing finished products. Batches of finished goods are assigned batch codes (lot numbers), so if a customer complaint is received, you can ask them for the lot code on the product. This can be verified and cross-checked with the date it was produced. You can also track which batches were sent to which customers.
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Lot traceability is important in industries such as food and pharmaceuticals where the safety and quality of products are critical. In the event of a product recall or quality issue, lot traceability allows companies to quickly identify the source of the problem and take appropriate corrective action to minimize the impact on consumers and the business.
Lot management features include:
- Automated methods to generate inventory lot numbers.
- Mandated capture of lot numbers of specific inventories.
- Immediate validation of inventory lot numbers whenever the inventory is adjusted or moved
- With a historical log of all activities performed against lot controlled raw materials and finished goods, lot traceability inquiries can provide a bidirectional search of a suspect item from receiving into WIP to shipment, and vice versa, or from any point within the process.
Lot traceability offers a view into:
- Vendor deliveries
- Raw Material inventory levels
- Batch production jobs
- Finished Goods inventory levels
- Customer shipments
Not having a good lot traceability program can have significant ramifications for companies, including:
Increased risk of product recalls: Without lot traceability, it can be difficult to quickly and accurately identify the source of quality or safety issues in products. This can result in more widespread recalls, increased costs, and damage to the company’s reputation.
Reduced product quality: Without lot traceability, it can be difficult to identify where quality issues are occurring in the production and distribution process. This can result in reduced product quality and increased customer complaints.
Regulatory non-compliance: Lot traceability is often mandated by regulatory agencies to ensure product safety and quality. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in costly penalties, legal actions, and damage to the company’s reputation.
Increased supply chain costs: Without lot traceability, it can be difficult to optimize inventory levels, leading to increased supply chain costs and reduced profitability.
Reduced customer satisfaction: Poor product quality and safety can lead to reduced customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to decreased sales and revenue.