Gray steel shelving

 

For certain industries, lot tracking is a crucial step in keeping their products safe and shippable.

Many products that need to be tracked together in a group, whether it be due to shelf life, expiration date, or batch numbers, are better served with lot tracking. Lot tracking is the act of keeping similar items together in a lot, tagging that lot with a unique identifier (typically a number), and then tracking that lot through the product’s entire lifespan including after purchase.

You’ve likely seen lot numbers in your daily life—for instance, think about the last time you heard about a big product recall due to expired food or faulty manufacturing. Those recalls were tracked and implemented through lot tracking, and as a result it’s a common sight in warehouses that deal in things like food and consumer goods.

Of course, if your products are tracked by the lot, you’ve probably had a hard time getting everything organized and tracked in a way that’s easy for your whole team to keep up with. If you have to organize and track lots in your warehouse, here’s a few of our best tips:

 

Determine how many lots you need to track: The first step is to see exactly how many lots your warehouse is responsible for, as this will help you better plan for space and storage needs. If your warehouse deals primarily in perishables or consumer goods, you’ll probably have more space needs than warehouses with fewer lots (or none). Review your current inventory and get an idea of exactly how many individual lots (not individual products, just the lots they’re tracked in, as that will be the next step) before proceeding.

 

Count the number of products per lot: The next step is to see how big the lots are. As you can expect, keeping lots of similar items as close to one another as possible is going to pose its own unique challenges, and knowing how big your lots will be can affect the rest of your planning process.

 

Establish a single location for each single lot: Here’s where it gets tricky. No matter how much shelf space you have on your pallet racks or warehouse shelves, you need to make sure that each lot is given its own location. Both on the physical shelves and in your WMS, each individual lot (whether by lot number or other identifier) is going to be better off with its own designated location, especially if they’re being kept in warehouse storage bins for easier transport.

 

Keep everything trackable: Lot tracking is unique in that both the individual SKUs and the lots as a whole will need to be tracked and counted. Use warehouse shelf labels carefully to ensure that both the individual product SKUs and the lot identifiers can be easily tracked and accessed to prevent miscounts or lost products. Use them either on the individual bins, or the ‘license plate method’ of keeping everything in the right container and labeling the container overall.

 

Track your lot replenishments: Once your lots are safely packed away and ready to go, a good way to get out in front of any needed tracking or counting is to measure how often they get replenished. This will help you better plan for any potential product shortages or issues with your stock, and will give you a better idea of how your lot tracking is performing overall.

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