You know how, on cop shows, when the detectives find a bottle of aspirin at a crime scene, they somehow find out instantly that it was sold at a 7-11 in Trenton the week before last? How do they do that? The answer is a process called “Lot Traceability.” With Lot Traceability, a feature in cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica, you can keep track of manufacturing inputs and outputs according to their lot. That way, with the lot number printed on the aspirin bottle, the detectives can call the manufacturer, who looks up the lot number on their ERP and tell them, right away, where that lot went.

What is a Manufacturing Lot?

A manufacturing lot is a group of products that were either made or shipped at the same time. Often, it refers to the contents of a batch made in the same production run. In the aspirin example, the drug maker mixes the chemicals that constitute aspiration in a batch. They then form them into tablets and put them in bottles. All the bottles in that batch are marked with the same lot serial number. The drug maker then uses ERP software, or its equivalent, to keep track of who bought it and so forth.

Manufacturers also like to keep track of lot serials numbers for their product ingredients. Corn starch, to name one, often goes into aspirin tablets. What would happen if the maker of that corn starch realized, after it had shipped a batch, that it was tainted in some way? If they’re tracking lot serial numbers, they could quickly look up the tainted batch and notify recipients of that lot. The aspirin maker, in turn, could then know if they had used that lot of corn starch already. If they have, they do a product recall. Otherwise, they’ll know not to use it.

How Lot Traceability Works

Acumatica’s manufacturing ERP solution provides lot traceability functionality. It automatically generates and assigns lot numbers for goods being produced in the factory. From there, the solution maintains full lot and serial traceability throughout the product’s lifecycle.

On the procurement side of the equation, Acumatica captures lot and serial numbers at purchase receipt. As goods are loaded into the manufacturing process, Acumatica tracks the vendor’s lot serial numbers. If there is no lot number on the vendor’s product, the software can create one. This is how the aspirin maker can instantly know if they have used the tainted corn starch. The Lot and Serial Tracking feature in Acumatica enables users to track inventory items by lot or serial numbers, as well as by expiration dates.

Cloud ERP makes Lot Traceability relatively easy to implement. It’s an add-on feature for Acumatica, so there is little-to-no difficulty with installation. Cloud APIs can connect Acumatica Lot Traceability software with vendor systems and shop-floor equipment that tracks lots used in the manufacturing process.  

Why Lot Traceability is an Important Function

Lot Traceability is important to manufacturers for a variety of reasons. It provides a control on manufacturing, with the ability to identify problems quickly and accurately—and then respond effectively. Being able to issue accurate, rapid recalls limits liability and compliance issues in regulated industries. Tracking lots by expiration date lets you sell the oldest lots first, to avoid having to throw out goods that are out of date.

From a procurement perspective, having lot numbers on manufacturing inputs gives you insights into how vendors are performing. For example, if a vendor has shipped a defective lot, you can request a precise refund. You can also track a vendor’s quality consistency and the like using lot numbers. Ultimately, you can use lots as a parameter for data analysis of manufacturing operations.

To learn more about how Lot Traceability fits into an overall manufacturing ERP strategy, visit our website.

Additional Manufacturing ERP Resources

4 Benefits of ERP Software for Manufacturers

KPIs for the Modern Manufacturer

Digital Transformation in Manufacturing and How ERP Can Help

Acumatica Manufacturing Demo