Lot Tracking: Top 3 Excuses

Mark Canes

Food distributors, and companies distributing pharmaceutical, medical and other consumable supplies that may be subject to regulatory recall all know the importance of lot tracking. So why do so many of them neglect this key aspect of their business?

Implementing a lot tracking system requires an investment in time and money, and perhaps a surgical approach to existing business processes. And that could also mean jettisoning the existing ERP Software in favour of a Wholesale Distribution Software system that supports Lot Tracking. yet none of these make the top 3 list of excuses for delaying or resisting implementation of lot tracking. So what are the top 3 excuses? And what should we say in response?

#3: We don't need to track lots

"We've never had a product recall, and if we do, we'll go through our paper records to handle it." Errr - no you won't, because you didn't record the Lot Numbers on the way in or out. What you will do if you have a product recall, is you'll manually search your warehouse for the offending lots that may still be in inventory. As for the products you've sold that may be subject to recall: you'll send a nice letter to all customers to whom you sold any products that may (but may not) have included offending lots, asking them to kindly search their inventory and check their records to see whether you sent them any of those items. Way to look good in front of your customers! (And how many products have you had to throw out because they'd passed their best before date before they'd been picked and shipped? Guess how you could avoid that...)

#2: Our warehouse staff couldn't handle it

"Our staff back there aren't sophisticated enough to manage Lot Tracking." If that were accurate, then you should fire them all and hire better people. But it's not true - if you put the appropriate tools in place and provide training, any warehouse staff that can pick and pack products can be trained to scan bar codes with lot numbers, and even pick system specified lots so that you can ship out products based on expiry dates.

#1: We have higher priorities right now 

Actually, that's true. But you also have higher priorities than eating lunch, or drinking coffee, yet you manage to do those things daily. And one product recall would make this much more important than drinking coffee, even if like me you're a caffeine junkie. I'll bet you do things at work every day, and make business decisions every week, on issues that are a lower priority than this.

Moral of the story is rather obvious: if you're in one of the businesses mentioned at the start of this diatribe, and not tracking lots - STOP MAKING EXCUSES!

Lot Tracking Whitepaper