Lot tracking is an increasingly popular method for food storage warehouses to track large groups of items with the same expiration date – but what effect does it have on your warehouse?

With lot tracking, your items are grouped together in a similar fashion to batch picking except all of the needed information is tracked for an entire lot of the same item, instead of individual goods being sent out in the same order. This lot is treated as one massive ‘item’ and will have the same information and criteria applied to it that an individual item would, to help keep better, more streamlined records.

As you can imagine, this is a common solution for food storage, as lot tracking tends to be most easily applied to items that share the same expiration date and/or storage requirements for safety such as refrigeration.

If you’re thinking about moving to a lot tracking system in your warehouse, or if you just want an easier way to store perishable goods in your warehouse, here’s a few ways to get started with lot tracking and make the process easier:

 

Settle on a labeling method

Proper labeling is a crucial part of any tracking method in warehouses, but it goes double for lot tracking. A lot of warehouses go for the “license plate” method wherein the front of their pallet racks are given label holders to hold a ‘license plate’, meaning a barcode that can be scanned to review the needed information such as expiration date, item count, and so on. Whether you place one large license plate on the front of your shelves or you use individual barcodes on your storage bins, just make sure all the needed information is included and easy to access.

 

Train employees on lot fulfillment

When using lot tracking for certain products, fulfilling orders tends to come with challenges typically unseen by other types of products. When it comes time to pick or ship orders (especially if you’re shipping a large quantity of these goods to a restaurant or retailer), your employees will need to make sure they’re fulfilling those SKUs from the proper lot. This will generally entail a FIFO approach due to the perishable nature of these goods, and by ensuring your workers are scanning and picking the right products for the right order, you’ll be better assured of freshness and product safety.

 

Store lots near like lots

Proper item placement can go a long way towards ensuring the correct lots are picked each time. Use subsequent lot numbers for related items, and arrange your warehouse storage in such a way as to help sell products by their sell-by date and reduce the risk of accidental picking for items under recall or that may have already expired.

 

Define a standard batch

Food storage involves a lot more variables than other warehouse types, including the need to identify processing times, storage temperatures, and sell-by dates. Make sure your batches include the information needed to store each specific product type safely and effectively, even at first scan, to maintain the safety of the end product.

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