Lot Tracking

End to end traceability through your warehouse and fulfilment processes


What is Lot Tracking?

The terms “Lot tracking” and “Batch tracking” are often used interchangeably, although some people prefer to use “Lot tracking” for foodstuffs and “Batch tracking” for anything else. Both terms describe the record keeping that is necessary to track stock items through a manufacturing process or warehouse at a batch level. Stock items are still identified by product specific SKU codes but each item is also associated with a lot number. The lot number might identify the specific manufacturer batch an item came from or it might be assigned to the item at any stage in its journey through the supply chain. The SKU code and the lot number might be on different barcodes or they might be combined in a structured GS1 barcode.

Lot tracking is a fundamental part of the supply chain for food, pharmaceuticals and anything else where it’s important to manage expiry dates or to provide end-to-end traceability in order to identify the source and extent of possible contamination, manufacturing defects or other problems. In the UK the Food Standards Agency and Food Standard Scotland require all food manufacturers and wholesalers to maintain an end-to-end record stock movements through their business and to have these records available for inspection at all times. Increasingly large retail customers are also requiring their suppliers to demonstrate that they have robust lot tracking processes in place.

OrderFlow WMS Lot Tracking and Batch Tracking

The OrderFlow WMS provides a powerful toolset that allows OrderFlow to enforce a rigorous adherence to processes that guarantee a complete audit trail of product lot usage throughout all warehouse operations. Alternatively, in some scenarios it is only necessary to capture the product lot that has been used to fulfil a particular order at the point it is packed.

A food production worker is labelling minced meat while looking at a set of industrial scales next to a conveyor belt.


OrderFlow can be used to provide end-to-end lot tracking of raw materials and components through a manufacturing or kitting process that produces finished goods. OrderFlow will maintain the relationship between the product lots used as raw material inputs and the finished goods that they are used to produce, providing both forward and backward traceability.

Production Dates, Expiry Dates, Use By Dates and Best Before Dates

Lot tracking is an essential part of managing the shelf-life of perishable products. OrderFlow might be configured to ensure that the process of creating a new product lot requires the user to capture the manufacturer’s production date and a use by date at the point of receipt, in other cases OrderFlow might automatically give the lot the appropriate dates when the delivery is received (e.g. a BBD 4 days after receipt and a UBD 6 days after receipt).

Young female worker in barcoding on boxes of apricots in warehouse

Stock Assignment and Product Lots

OrderFlow gives you complete control over how stock is assigned to customer orders. The simplest and most common approach is to assign stock to orders by age, using the product lots with the earliest expiry date first but there are many variations on this which will sometimes be appropriate:

  • Use the specific product lots defined in the order information received from the ERP or sales platform.
  • Use the oldest product lot that has the minimum remaining shellfire defined in the order information.
  • Do not allow product lots to be mixed in an order, so use the oldest product lot that has sufficient quantity to meet the orderline requirement in full.
  • Use the oldest product lot first unless the quantity required is a full pallet or full case quantity. This approach might be used to avoid splitting pallets or cases for fast moving SKUs where you can be confident that the older stock will soon be assigned to smaller orders.

Product lots can be associated with the minimum remaining shelf life that will be accepted for new deliveries, for the assignment of stock to new orders and for the assignment of stock to works orders in a product process. OrderFlow can be configured to automatically drive the quarantining of stock when it falls below these thresholds or can allow the appropriate members of staff to be given the ability to override the default values when appropriate.

Forward Traceability

Forward traceability maintains a record of which inputs (either raw materials, ingredients or components) were used in a particular manufacturing process, typically known as a works order. Forward traceability allows OrderFlow to answer the question:

“Which finished goods stock items were made using raw material product lot XXX. Which customer orders where fulfilled using those items and where is the remaining stock in the warehouse?”

Backward Traceability

Backward traceability is the reverse, it allows OrderFlow to answer the question:

“Which inputs (raw materials, ingredients or components) were used in the production of finished goods product lot YYY?”

Product Recalls and Quarantining

OrderFlow provides the forward and backward traceability needed to ensure product recalls are made quickly and accurately. Your remaining stock of the affected product lots can be immediately frozen and any assignment with pending orders can be dropped.

Arrange a demo to discuss how OrderFlow could help your business

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Meetings typically take around 45 minutes to an hour. We will take time to understand the particular characteristics of your business before walking through an informal demonstration of the OrderFlow platform that focuses on the areas most relevant to you.

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