It seems that more and more these days we hear about recalls from parts on cars to the ground turkey you just stocked in your fridge. 

This brings us to the question of how does the manufacturer know which products are bad, and which ones need to be recalled? After all, they were all produced in the same place, so shouldn’t they all be the same? It’s situations like this where a lot number can come to the rescue. 

If you’re thinking to yourself, “what is a lot number?” You’re about to find out. 

What is a lot number

A lot number is an identification number assigned to a certain quantity or groups of products from a single manufacturer. 

If you have never heard of a lot number before, you may have heard it under a different name. It can also be called a batch number, code number, or lot code. 

Lot numbers are a combination of numerical digits that are then assigned to a group of products with similarities. If you are unsure of where these numbers are, you can typically find them on the outside of the packaging. 

Many companies are going to have a different way of assigning lot numbers to their products. Some of the factors that determine these differentiations can be based on the date, location, expiration date or a combination of different numbers.  

However, one thing that won’t change is that a lot number is a unique group of digits that is only applicable to that specific group of products. 

One important thing to know is that a lot number can only be applied to one batch of products. However, many of the items in that one batch will have the same lot number as several other ones. 

Why is it important

Lot numbers are important for a number of reasons, such as inventory management and avoiding crises during a recall. A reliable inventory software system such as topShelf helps you do just that. Having all the information you need at a glance not only increases efficiency, but saves you time, money, and energy. 

Inventory management is one of the most important parts of your business. It ensures that you have the right amount of items in stock so you don’t run out of what the customer is asking for. 

Having good inventory management also helps to make sure you are not over or under ordering products for your warehouse. You shouldn’t have to guess on the quantities of certain items you need. 

When you throw lot numbers into the equation, you receive even more precision with ordering, shipping, reception, and restocking. 

When to use lot numbers

Some of the most common situations where lot numbers are used are recalls, product differentiation, and expiration dates. Food, beverage, and drug companies tend to be the ones that use lot numbers the most, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t used outside of those particular industries. An example would be a clothing product that was made the wrong color. 

Recalls: They happen more than you would think. If it ever happens to be you in a recall situation, you want to be sure that you are on top of the situation as quickly as possible. 

No matter the situation you find yourself in, you are going to want to be sure it is taken care of as quickly as possible. 

To be prepared for this type of situation, you want to have lot numbers in place to help you manage the problem. 

Product Differentiation: Lot numbers are a must for a business that handles products that have only slight variations in their color, size, feel, and other criteria. This helps to make sure products that are not supposed to match up, or are a little different don’t get mixed up and the right items are distributed to the correct places. 

Expiration Dates: When you are dealing with food and drink products, having a lot number is especially important. You need to be sure that the food and drink products are being shipped from the warehouse well before their expiration date comes up. This way, you are sure you are putting out high quality and safe to consume product. With cloud-based technology, you can be alerted when you have an expired product so that you can throw it out, order fresh product, and keep everything fresh. 

Quality Assurance: Having lot numbers in the QA process can help a lot. As you test products from different batches, you are able to locate the lot number of items that are defective. If there are other items in that same batch that are defective, you will know which items you need to pull. So instead of having to take all of those items down from the shelves, you just take down the ones with that lot number.  

Legal Compliance: Several various government organizations, including the FDA, may require lot numbers and lot tracking for food and drug companies. Make sure to do research on where you are operating from and what you are selling to make sure you are complying with these guidelines. 

Difference between lot number and serial number 

A common question that comes up is what’s the difference between a lot number and a serial number. As we mentioned earlier, the lot number on products from the same batch may be the same. 

When it comes to the serial number, things get a little different. Instead of having the same numbers as others in the batch, each serial number is going to be different. 

Serial numbers are going to be a lot more exact than lot numbers. They are able to help you not only differentiate different products from one another, but also individual products that are the same model. 

When it comes to tech products like cell phones, laptops, and other big technology sources, serial numbers are a big difference-maker. They are able to help distinguish individual models from one another which makes things much easier to deal with. It helps the support team to locate the specific product so they are able to provide high-quality support. 

Tracking lot numbers

What is lot tracking? Simple. It is the process of recording how each product moves in and out of your inventory. Tracking inventory with a system like topShelf will make tracking a much smoother and easier process. 

You will always know exactly what you have in stock and what items are running low on stock. You are able to access this information from any tablet, mobile barcode scanner, or smartphone and stay on top of inventory no matter the size. 

Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what a lot number is, and how it can benefit you. 

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