Sunday, April 08, 2012

More About Lot Tracking In A Manufacturing Company

Manufacturers often need to track lot numbers for one of two reasons (sometimes both):
  1. They need to uniquely identify the source of raw materials.
  2. They need to identify the destination of a group of finished goods.
Many inventory management systems offer lot tracking capabilities and have provisions for capturing the lot number of raw materials you receive as well as the lot number of customer shipments. In a manufacturing environment, the task of lot tracking gets more complicated because a manufacturing company typically uses the lot-tracked raw materials to create lot-tracked finished goods.
Imagine a raw material Item A being used in a sub-assembly Item B, Item B used in sub-assembly Item C, and Item C used in finished good Item D. If Item A is lot-tracked, the software needs to be able to record the lot number whenever Item A is received. Likewise, if finished-good Item D is lot-tracked, the software needs to be able to record the lot number whenever Item D is produced.
Whether Item B or Item C are lot-tracked themselves is not so important (they may or may not be), except that these sub-assemblies perform a role in consuming the lot-tracked raw material, Item A. This is to say that, in a manufacturing environment, it is important to be able to track the “use” of a lot-tracked component step by step through the manufacturing process to the finished good.

There are two views of the manufacturing process that regulatory agencies require you to meet:
  1. A view of where a lot-tracked item was used (the lot-tracked component item looking forward).
  2. A view of the lot-tracked item(s) used in a finished good (the lot-tracked finished good item looking back).
If your manufacturing process requires lot-tracking, be certain that the software you are evaluating delivers both views. Be careful because some software (and some software vendors) try to fake it.

If the job of tracing lot-numbers through the entire manufacturing process wasn’t difficult enough, there’s another complexity of lot tracking that many manufacturing software products gloss over.

Going back to the example of raw material Item A being baked into finished good Item D, consider this: the production of sub-assembly Item B may require more of Item A that exists in a single lot. So, to build Item B, multiple lots of Item A are consumed. The manufacturing software needs to know how many of Item A was used from each lot. Then when sub-assembly Item C is produced, the manufacturing software cannot lose track of the various lots of Item A included in Item C. Likewise, the production of the finished good Item D, includes various lots of Item A. But which lots? Regulatory agencies require you to know. Make sure the manufacturing software you are evaluating can tell you accurately.
The lot tracking capabilities of the MISys Manufacturing are specially designed to be able to trace a lot-numbered raw material throughout the entire production process, regardless of how many levels of sub-assembly are involved, and deal accurately with the consumption of multiple lots. As you might imagine, this is a massively complex process, management of which few MISys competitors can match. If you are required to accurately trace lot numbers through the entire multi-level manufacturing process, by choice or necessity, MISys Manufacturing is up to the task. See for more details.

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