Keeping tabs on products and orders is crucial for companies in the manufacturing industry, and not having a serial number tracker in place can lead to chaos in no time. Managing inventory without serial numbers, LOT numbers, or SKU numbers in place is like trying to find the needle in the haystack – unthinkingly. By incorporating a serial number tracking system into your electronics manufacturing software, you can eliminate bottlenecks and scheduling conflicts, maintain accurate records, and keep track of your products, ensuring timely delivery and customer satisfaction.
But what are the differences between serial, LOT, and SKU numbers? What advantages do they each offer, and which is the right choice for a company operating in the electronics manufacturing sector? We’ll look at each type of serial number tracker in part to see the advantages and disadvantages and how they can be used.
Table of Contents
What is serial number tracking?
Serial number tracking allows manufacturing businesses to assign unique identifiers to each item or product in their inventory. Every single thing will have a distinct serial number, making it easy to track the movement and history of specific items whenever needed. Serial number tracking is usually used for high-value or high-risk items, where tracking each item is essential for warranty purposes and recalls or returns. Examples can include medical devices, electronics, vehicles, and luxury goods.
While companies can have a group of similar goods in their inventory boasting the same LOT numbers, every product in that lot can be assigned a unique serial number, and no other product can exist with the same serial number.
Serial number tracking can have critical benefits for high-risk products, such as medical devices or pharmaceutical products, where avoiding shipping errors and ensuring timely delivery is paramount. A serial number assigned to each product allows manufacturers to keep track of their inventory in great detail and keep a track record of each product sold, which is essential in the case of items under warranty or potential manufacturing defects.
What is a LOT number?
Depending on each case, LOT numbers are usually assigned to groups of similar products based on location, manufacturing date, expiration date, product type, and more. The LOT number is a unique identifier that applies to only one batch or set of items. Individual products in that batch will have the same LOT number but can also be assigned unique serial numbers for more detailed tracking.
Manufacturers will use LOT numbers and lot tracking software for products produced or sold in large quantities, like perishable goods, cosmetics, food products, children’s products, and more. LOT numbers also usually have an expiration date, making it easier to track orders and products, and they can also be assigned custom information for further detail and more effective tracking.
What are SKU numbers?
SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) numbers are unique identifiers assigned to specific products in a company’s inventory. Their primary purpose is inventory management, and they are essential for manufacturers and retailers that need to keep track of the products they sell efficiently. SKU numbers can be further customized, providing information regarding product type, size, color, expiration date, production date, model, sale price, etc.
SKU numbers are often used for inventory management of electronic products. For instance, all smartphones of the same model and variant boast unique individual IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) codes, like serial numbers for smartphones, but they share the same SKU number. This makes it easy for manufacturers and retailers to keep track of and find specific products in their inventory and keep track of stock at all times.
To summarize, serial number trackers are used to locate and identify individual items; LOT numbers are used to group similar products. In contrast, SKU numbers are used by companies internally for inventory management and sales tracking. Each number serves a different purpose but is essential for efficient inventory management, product and sales tracking, and potential troubleshooting. Using these numbers ensures transparency of operations, efficiency, data collection, record keeping, and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.