Inventory Tracking Overview

November 16, 2016 in Inventory Control,Order Management,Purchasing

In Online Advantage it is possible to enable a detailed level of tracking on inventory items on a Product by Product basis, or, if required, on selected Inventory items i.e. a Product stocked in a specific Stock Location. These tracking options allow you to record a level of additional details with each transaction to assist you to track the items involved. The following tracking methods are available:

  • Serial Tracking (in Full)
  • Serial Tracking (Issues only)
  • Batch Tracking (in Full)
  • Batch Tracking (Issues Only)
  • Dual Qty Tracking (In Full)
  • Dual Qty Tracking (Issues Only)
  • Dual Qty Tracking (Non Specific)

When tracking is switched on for a Product/Inventory item the system records the “Reference” details (i.e. Serial No, Batch No or Dual Reference No) for the transactions and keeps the details in the Inventory records so you can see what references are currently in stock for any Product/Location.

All the Tracking options above include a historical lookup of all transactions for each unique tracking number (Serial, Batch or Dual Reference) as well as a display of all the tracking details in stock for an individual inventory item. These are critical functions to allow users to get the most out of the tracking system. Along with these functions, Online Advantage offers a series of tools to let the users change/adjust/transfer the tracking references as required. These are essential as sometimes transactions are recorded with incorrect references due to user input error or miscommunication. It can also be that you simply need to re-number a reference.

Another part of the Tracking system is the ability to use a “To Be Advised” or “TBA” number. There are times when the user does not know the reference number of an item but they need to continue on with the transaction at hand. One such scenario is a counter sales operation where the Invoice is raised before the goods are picked from the shelf for the customer. Knowing the reference number(s) selected before completing the transaction is not possible under these circumstances. In this situation, the system generates a “TBA” number for the transaction. It is a simple “sequential” numbering system. This allows the user(s) to record the reference numbers for the transaction at a later date so that the tracking system is kept accurate and complete.

Serial Tracking

Serial Tracking assumes a one to one relationship between the stock unit of measure and a serial number. In other words, for every “Stock” unit quantity there should be a unique serial number. There are two variants of Serial Tracking. “In Full” serial tracking sees the system force all users to input a serial number per Stock Quantity on a transaction by transaction basis during all stock receipts, stock transfers and stock issues throughout the system. Thus the item is “fully tracked” by its serial number from the point of entry into the system and including all movements of the item throughout the system. Full Serial tracking includes the Stock Take system so when counting Inventory items, all the serial numbers need to be recorded and input into the system.

Serial tracking “Issues Only” provides you with the option of recording the serial numbers at the point of use or “issue”. Products tracked this way can have the serial numbers entered into the system for tracking/lookup when the products are invoiced to the customer or when the product is issued out of stock (e.g. to Manufacturing Work Orders) without the need to track those serial numbers throughout the purchasing and stock life of the product. Thus the serial numbers can still be recorded without doing all the work of full serial tracking.

Batch Tracking

Batch tracking works the same way as serial tracking offering “In Full” or “Issues Only” options. However whilst serial numbers must be unique per stock unit (the one to one relationship), batch tracking allows for a one to many approach. In other words multiple quantities of a product can be received, stocked, or issued within a given batch number and the system tracks this batch and the quantity of products in stock and the usage of the quantity on a batch by batch basis.

Dual Tracking

Dual quantity tracking options only apply where products have a “Dual Unit/conversion” factor applied to them. This option provides you with the ability to express stock items in two different units of measure. An example of a product you might want to use Dual Tracking on is wire or carpet. Timber, metal, wire and carpet are products often stocked in Lineal Metres (LM) or Square Metres (SQM), but stored in Rolls or Sheets or Panels. Sometimes it can be just as important to know the number of Rolls in stock as it is the number of LM’s. Using Dual Tracking allows the recording of two “Stock” units of measure for every transaction so that users are able to see what is in stock and what is available to sell in both LM and Rolls units.

Other examples would be products that have a requirement to be stored in fluid products in terms of their weight (Kg) and their volume (litres). Dry products (food, grain, chemicals) and fluid products (paint, chemicals, drink) are also examples of items that might benefit from being Dual Tracked. There are two main reasons for wanting to Dual Track an item. The 1st, and a big differentiator for products that need to be Dual tracked, is a varying relationship between the two units of measure. In this scenario the number of Stock units contained within the Dual unit can and is different on a “Reference” by “Reference” basis. In this situation it is imperative that the users have visibility over the contents of each Dual unit. A classic example we see of this is in the “Meat” industry. Much of their product is purchased and sold in cartons. However each carton can and does have a different amount of meat in it. The meat is cut to varying sizes so the actual amount of meat (measured as a Stock unit of Kilo’s usually) will be different from carton to carton. Since this industry generally prices their product by the kilo, knowing the exact weight of each carton is an essential business requirement so some form of Dual Tracking is required.

The 2nd scenario, where a product can have part of the “quantity” removed, is the other main category of products that require Dual tracking. We have seen this type of product with carpet, wood, metal panels, metal wire and metal rods to name a few. As an example of this situation we’ll take a roll of carpet. When you purchase two rolls of carpet, you might start with 20 metres in each roll. You receive them into Online Advantage and tell the system the roll Reference Numbers. Then a customer orders 10 metres of carpet. To complete the order, 10 metres is cut from one of the rolls. There are still two rolls in the system. That has not changed. But now there is only 30 metres in stock. So against one of the Dual References 10 metres of carpet is deducted. In this situation it is very important to know both units of measure in order to service clients. If you only track a single quantity i.e. metres you can be caught out easily. Think of a situation where a client orders 2 rolls of carpet expecting 2 x 20 metres. If you don’t have Dual Tracking turned on, the system might say you have 40 metres in stock so you tell the customer you can deliver, only to find out that the stock is actually 1 x 20 metre roll and 4 x 5 metre rolls. Not a situation you or your customer wants.

Dual Tracking (Issues Only) is similar to Batch Tracking (Issue Only) and Dual Tracking (In Full) is much like Batch Tracking (In Full), with one exception. The system will want to know/track if the Dual Reference is “Complete” or “In Part” during all transactions. In other words, with Dual Tracking we also keep a record of whether each item is “complete” or not, to cover scenario two above. For example, a full carton contains 10 boxes – if you break the carton open and remove 5 boxes, then you no longer have 1 complete carton – you have 0 complete and 5 parts.

Dual Tracking (Non-Specific) is a variation on the Dual Tracking methods above. It is “In Full” as per the others above, but it does not require the use of “Reference” numbers. With this method, we keep track of the two units of measure that should be in inventory, being Stock units and Dual units, but we don’t require the entry of a reference number to track them under. This makes the use of this method easier and quicker, but of course has the disadvantage of not allowing you to accurately identify each individual item. You will be able to see that you have X number of Cartons, or X number of Rolls, and the total Stock units (i.e. weight, metres, litres) as a summary only. Then you can view the individual stock units for each item but with no reference numbers recorded.

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