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How can one Enhance Inventory with Serial Number Tracking

Updated: Oct 22

Introduction

Any warehouse inventory management system (WMS) or third-party logistics software must include serial number tracking. The practice of tracking serial numbers has begun to expand outside industries like automaking and electronics as supply chains stretch throughout the world and firms face stricter restrictions both locally and internationally. Serial numbers keep track of each distinct object, even if they appear to be the same.


This implies that each iPod, DNA kit or automobile component has its unique digit sequence. Manufacturers can use serial numbers to protect themselves from knock-offs. They also assist merchants in looking up warranty conditions and tracking stolen goods. If the victim possesses the phone's IMEI number, the carrier can block the phone and render it worthless to the thief.


The importance of serial numbers in supply chains cannot be overstated. When you consider the magnitude of the cross-border eCommerce business, this relevance is amplified. More than 2.14 billion individuals will shop for products and services online by 2021. Serial numbers will become increasingly important as the eCommerce sector grows as a means of preserving product visibility, tracing stolen items, and referencing warranty and other post-sale support information.


In the supply chain, how are serial numbers generated, recorded, and tracked?

The product’s manufacturer generates a serial number. The objective is to keep track of each item's history as it moves through the supply chain and between end consumers. This would be a pretty simple procedure if all manufacturers exercised vertical integration (the corporate practice of controlling all phases in the supply chain, such as distribution and retailing). Unfortunately, the majority of businesses do not attempt vertical integration.


Vertical integration is difficult to implement and reverse, even though it can be highly beneficial. Instead, most businesses gain value from their goods through collaborating with upstream and downstream supply chain partners. As a result, each partner (for example, distributors and wholesalers, warehouse facilities, and retailers) will require systems to record serial numbers correctly. This guarantees that they can deal with costly occurrences like recalls while reducing their company's exposure.

Benefits of inventory serial number tracking

Serial numbers allow products to be tracked and traced throughout the supply chain. As a result, manufacturers are forced to discover more efficiency as their operations develop and their supply networks become more complicated. Furthermore, by minimising the unknown and giving accessible insights, serial number traceability aids inventory and production management.

  1. Knowing the quantity of product inventory on hand and the full journey of components and products simplifies groupings and other manufacturing and product management activities. Serial number management allows for tracking items between warehouses, in transit, in a manufacturer's inventory, and the field.

  2. Because serial management necessitates an integrated approach, it improves tracking capabilities. Because a single database may replace several unconnected databases, inventory control is more accurate. Other factors, such as expiration dates, may also be managed more precisely with visibility and traceability. Greater efficiency in picking and shipping may also be obtained with this insight and detailed history of the product life cycle and inventory.

  3. Tracking serial numbers can also aid in the management of expanding warehouse operations. Business warehouses contain many moving components, and serial number management offers the visibility and monitoring required to sustain productivity and efficiency. In addition, because mobile technology is increasingly being used to manage inventory, accuracy and visibility may be more readily incorporated into systems. Thus, serial number management entails gathering data and utilising it for increased productivity and other advantages.

  4. While serial number management allows for significant process improvements and savings in the production environment, the benefits of visibility and tracking extend to post-sales product life cycles as well. Serial management makes tracking and locating goods simple, from warranty management to parts and component replacement. In addition, parts and item management must be rapid and effective due to complex supply chains and the rising internationalisation of the marketplace. As a result, manufacturers and sellers may use serial management to give value to customers long beyond the first transaction.

Tracking Inventory Serial Numbers in a Warehouse Management System

Inventory serial number tracking requires time (and money); therefore, it's in a warehouse manager's best interest to make the procedure as efficient as possible. Warehouses can monitor inventory serial numbers in a variety of ways using their warehouse management systems. Tracking serial numbers upon arrival and shipping allows you to keep a firm grip on your warehouse and determine when individual products arrived and departed. You may customise tracking settings in your inventory management system by going to the inventory serial number tracking tab, which may be referred to as "Serial Number," "Serial Number Information," or "Create Serial Number", depending on your service provider. Depending on the language of your WMS, you would uncheck the boxes "skip during receipt" and "skip for the issue," or tick "record during receipt" or "record for an issue."


Follow all of the preceding procedures, but uncheck “record during receipt” or check “skip during receipt” in this approach. You would only see when an individual item left your warehouse and where it went if you choose this option, not when it entered. Tracking just upon shipment is an excellent solution for warehouses with minimal resources. Most warehouse managers are solely concerned with item codes within the facility since inventory control is their primary focus.


However, when it comes to a black swan event like a big recall, keeping track of the serial number is critical. If a warehouse has to be compensated for a recall, it's much easier to figure out how much is due once your programme has collected the information. If they only track goods after they've been dispatched, the warehouse manager will only know about the recalled items they've shipped. If a recalled item is still in their inventory and they didn't keep note of the serial number when they received it, they'll have to track down those individuals manually.


Conclusion

When it comes to inventory serial number monitoring, a comprehensive warehouse management system will enable you to satisfy the demands of your consumers better. You can simply record data at the receiving dock and track it again when items ship out the door with the proper solution.


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