Lot tracking and traceability is an essential practice in inventory management for coffee roasters alike. In fact, enabling the lot control functionality is often the first step coffee roasters take once their new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is live.

In this blog, you’ll learn about lot tracking and traceability and why it’s so important. You’ll also learn how an ERP solution can help you gain greater visibility and control over your inventory.


What is lot tracking and traceability?

Lot tracking and traceability gives end-users the ability to assign identification labels to production runs called “lots,” which can then be tracked throughout the supply chain. The ID labels allow coffee roasters to then scan and store information about the material, including its location in the warehouse, when it was received, who the supplier is and when it was purchased.

The term “cradle-to-grave” traceability refers to the ability to track lots from the beginning to end of the supply chain: starting with the supplier who sends the raw materials, moving through the manufacturing process, and all the way to distribution and sale, when the finished product reaches end customers.


Lot Tracking and Traceability in Inventory Management

Effective and efficient warehouse management starts with lot tracking and traceability, and it begins the moment materials are received. When used in conjunction with wireless barcoding, this functionality enables strategic decision-making, providing full, real-time visibility into your inventory.

Bin location functionality allows you to label and barcode every spot in your warehouse according to a common naming convention (for example, “Aisle 1, Level 1” on a pallet rack).

Most lot numbers have dates embedded within the code, sometimes using characters or letters to represent different months. This allows manufacturers to determine manufacturing date simply by looking at the lot number, so they can easily track shelf life. ERP allows you to manually enter a lot number, use a sequential number or automatically generate one.

Lot control for raw materials also enables first in, first out (FIFO) and FEFO (first expired, first out) inventory tracking:

  • FIFO tracking means the oldest lot is used first, so you’re cycling your inventory. This also helps age your inventory to track products you’ve had for a long time, which can indicate overbuying (and help you adjust future ordering).
  • FEFO tracking means the first lot to expire is used first. It’s possible that some of the material you receive later may have a nearer expiration date, whether due to a shorter shelf life or an out-of-order shipment.

ERP solutions have functionalities to automatically select the first lots to expire as well as the oldest inventory to ensure maximum utilization and prevent waste.

Lot tracking and traceability functionality is especially important for manufacturers that produce food, consumable, and personal care products. Both the ingredients and finished products have shelf life and expiration concerns, which make lot tracking and traceability crucial.


Benefits of Lot Tracking and Traceability with ERP

Lot tracking and traceability helps you more accurately track what’s going on in your business and unlock the full potential of your ERP software. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Increased efficiency: No more lost time wandering through warehouses wondering where you put an item or ingredient. Lot tracking gives you a snapshot of your entire inventory, updated in real time. This helps with manufacturing as well as inventory counts.
  • Reduced waste: FIFO and FEFO tracking ensure you sell your oldest and closest to expiring products first, so you don’t have products that expire or sit in your warehouse too long.
  • Enhanced health and safety: Attaching important documentation such as COAs to raw materials helps ensure safety in manufacturing and distribution, while enabling rapid response to product and ingredient recalls.
  • Inbound and outbound quality testing: ERP allows you to attach COAs and quality documents at the lowest level, so you can run quality tests on inbound raw materials and address shelf life or expiration concerns. This also allows you to easily track the tests and results of finished products.
  • FDA compliance: No need to fear the FDA inspector’s visit; ERP allows you to instantly pull customer information for every material and generate lot-recall letters in minutes, helping you avoid costly compliance fees while keeping customers safe.
  • Better business decisions: Streamlining key operations functions and enhancing visibility and communication enables better business decisions, which in turn helps increase profitability.
  • Specialized functionality: Our software was built with chemical and process manufacturers in mind, and it offers functionality as unique as your needs, informed by our three decades of experience in the industry and ensuring you stay up to date.


Your Next Steps

At ACC Software Solutions, coffee and tea are the fuel that keep our team running smoothly.  However, we’re not only expert consumers, we also provide a wide variety of ERP services for coffee and tea providers nationwide.

In our business, we’ve proudly served a number of both manufacturers and distributors in the coffee & tea industry.  Meaning, we’ve got a pretty good idea of how your company already works and common pain-points throughout the industry.  Our team of expert consultants can build upon that knowledge to provide the best solutions for your business.

Find out why manufacturing distributor centers across the United States have come to us for over 25 years to execute their software projects—contact ACC Software Solutions today!


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