Lot Traceability in the Food and Beverage Industry
See that can of food on your shelf, in the fridge, or at a local grocery store? Well, next time you do, pick it up and turn it upside down. You'll find a "lot number" or code and, intuitively, ask yourself how one item could ship halfway around the world and be traced to the city and store it ended up in — to the exact shelf.
The answer to that question is Lot Traceability. And, at its highest level, it enables companies to have a granular outlook across their entire inventory — wherever that inventory happens to go.
In today’s world, Lot Traceability is a mainstay of the Food & Beverage industry, especially since tracing internal inventory and finished goods are required for Food Safety Quality Authority (FSQA) guidelines and many other regulations.
What Is Lot Traceability?
Instead of logging one item that’s received and fulfilled, Lot Traceability enables you to receive items from a specific lot and track it to a final destination through myriad systems, time zones, and locations.
All of this is possible with lot numbers.
What Are Lot Numbers?
Lot numbers represent a set of identification codes. Assigned by a specified quantity or lot of material from a single manufacturer, lot numbers are typically found on the outside of containers or packaging. They’re also used for components.
Imagine this: A supply of butter is received on Monday and used to make a product on Tuesday. Come Friday, you receive a notice from the vendor that the butter was spoiled. Unfortunately, the product has already shipped and made it onto shelves.
NetSuite’s Lot Tracking Functionality
When a product recall occurs, Lot Traceability can pull fulfillments by lot number and any product or component involved. So rather than trying to chase down an item by production line or receipts, you can trace every inch it covered and where it ended up so that broad recall efforts can be successful.
You can follow a product's life cycle using NetSuite’s Lot Traceability functionality — and, further, by auto-generating reports for the finished goods that went into making it.
On NetSuite, there are virtually no limits to how much product can be traced. Or, for that matter, any restriction based on the size and type of company.
Benefits of NetSuite’s Lot Traceability
Detailed Reporting and Inventory Management
Many companies track lot numbers via an automated system or invest in WMS. But where NetSuite improves on automation is with functionality that auto-populates lot numbers so that users don’t have to type or manage these codes individually.
For example, a company producing coffee wants lot numbers generated for their finished goods. So when putting in a work order to complete the product purchase and mark that the inventory was created, they generate it with a specific code from that item record.
Migrating your inventory tracking from a rudimentary platform like Google sheets to NetSuite often encounters trouble. Why? Well, because you can’t move inventory outside without a lot number — which is what you need to verify inventory accuracy.
NetSuite’s lot tracing portlet combines detailed reporting and tools to capture every lot number and each item. It shows you all the item fulfillments and assembly builds — anything that pulls in that lot number.
Streamlined Financials and Accounting
Interestingly, the desire to move Lot Traceability onto NetSuite does not always stem from concerns over inventory tracking. It sometimes arises from a need to streamline financials and accounting.
But it would so happen that Lot Traceability goes hand in hand with consolidating financials. Where NetSuite excels here is in account visibility and management.
Transactions recorded on NetSuite will automatically contain updated inventory details, as well as how much of any item remains in inventory and from what lot number. On less sophisticated systems — such as Google sheets, Excel, or often the company’s previous ERP — tracking lot numbers remain separate from the inventory system.
Naturally, that incompatibility then leads to a failure of these systems to talk to one another.
Without NetSuite’s capability to look back at every transaction where a lot number was used, accounts inherently become harder to reconcile.
Customers typically assume that they can see what lot number of a finished good is fulfilled. But, depending on what system they’re moving from, it may be a surprise how swiftly you can take it from the component level and trace how one component branched off into six different finished goods and what happened to that 100-item fulfillment.
That directly affects financials and accounting and is the ultimate in Lot Traceability.
SCS Cloud: Meet Our NetSuite Certified Team
Anyone can identify that a Food & Beverage company or any business involved in manufacturing needs Lot Traceability. That’s like saying your house needs a roof.
But one area where SCS Cloud differs from other Solution Providers is our deep experience in the manufacturing space. It lets us advise on how lot tracking inventory can best work alongside 3PLs, WMS, and any other integration you may already be working with.
Take a recent example of our successful implementation with Jot Labs — a coffee-concentrate company based in Boulder, Colorado. Through our work, Jot achieved visibility into its in-house and outsourced manufacturing operations, raw materials, and finished products.
They also can trace a single bottle of coffee back through their international and multiple manufacturing operations down to the original coffee grounds.
Also, consider another of SCS Cloud’s specialties — integrations.
And when it comes to training users to utilize NetSuite’s Lot Traceability, our team handles it so that there’s no disruptive shift to operations.
Gain a Competitive Edge With SCS Cloud
Borne out from the cumulative effort of designing solutions for your industry, SCS Cloud’s implementation methodology is the result of helping companies like yours overcome the vicissitudes of Lot Traceability.
So, ready to perfect your Lot Traceability software?
About the author: Annie Coogan is a certified NetSuite ERP Consultant with 5 years of experience in implementations, specifically in the Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, and Warehousing Distribution industries. After working at Oracle NetSuite for nearly 5 years, she joined the SCS Cloud team and has since worked on projects ranging from emerging to enterprise-level operations.