What is a serial number?
A serial number is an identification number assigned to a distinct unit
of a product from a single manufacturer. A serial number may be found on the packaging or on the unit itself.
A product will
typically have an identifier often referred to as an SKU (stock keeping unit).
For example a cellular phone made by RIM may have an SKU of 64905 which is BlackBerry Bold 9000. In
addition to the SKU, each phone will have unique serial number. In the cell phone, wireless business its called an IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity.
So whereas there may be thousands of 64905s there will only be one with IMEI 353958803-121326-9.
Why should my business track serial numbers
Serial numbers enable the manufacturer to trace a product back through the
production process to the source of the components used in the finished
product. In our example of a cellular, the serial
number allows the manufacturer to determine which components where used
and from which supplier. So in the case where a certain batch of components may have been
faulty, the manufacturer can recall only the serial
numbers affected instead of a total recall.
Another reason is for warranty purposes. Through its serial number
you can trace which customer purchased a particular phone and if that phone is
still under warranty.
In the cell phone business IMEI are also used for a blacklist of stolen devices.
Central Equipment Identity
Register an cell phone can be prevented from making calls through its IMEI.
How can All Orders by NumberCruncher help track serial numbers?
Technology exists to ease the
tracking burden. These solutions include
electronic records handling to help streamline the handling of bills of material
and work orders, as well as technology such as barcodes and labels for serial
traceability and warranty dates. But this technology has typically been out of
reach for the small manufacturer. However All Orders by NumberCruncher provides sophisticated yet cost effective means to track serial numbers through the supply chain to the consumer
and its integrated with QuickBooks.
Bill of material
A bill of material (BOM) is a list of the raw materials, sub-assemblies,
intermediate assemblies, sub-components, components, parts, and the quantities of
each needed to manufacture the final product. It may be used for communication
between manufacturing partners or confined to a single manufacturing plant.
A BOM can define products as they are designed (an engineering bill of
materials), as they are ordered (a sales bill of materials), as they are built
(a manufacturing bill of materials), or as they are maintained (a service bill
of materials). The different types of BOMs depend on the business need and use
for which they are intended.
An electronic BOM provides greater control over production costs. The ease in
creating and editing an electronic BOM helps in maintaining product quality—the actual vs. expected product output.
Using BOMs ensures engineering designs are adhered to during production. The BOM has
production instructions and routing steps, including one that can be called
quality control. You wouldn’t believe how many small companies keep their
BOMs and production notes on paper in a file cabinet (or in the
owner’s head). Paper, or even basic Excel spreadsheet systems don’t allow
companies to easily update and instantly communicate changes throughout the
electronics and computer manufacturers need vital inventory and order management features to
effectively track inventory quantities, production, and customer orders. All
Orders by NumberCruncher for has the necessary tools that QuickBooks
Inventory for manufacturing and manufacturers does not have. From bill of materials
to tracking warranty dates, these electronic manufacturers have the same compliance and
operational requirements as larger companies. They need much, but not all, of
the functional technology solutions [that are available to larger companies].
Too often this type of BOM functionality is found in costly software and
Paper work orders do not allow production data to be shared throughout a central database. Quality processes cannot be effectively documented and saved to create standard operating procedures critical to
electronics production. The ability to save and attach the serial number being manufactured ensures quality processes.
The electronic work order is used to create finished product. Each step in the
work order is completed before the work order can be finalized. Too often
lower-cost technology solutions lack the needed custom fields required per work
order that allow the quality control checklist to be integrated with all other
functions, and retained in the same database as order and inventory information.
Without the work order, the impact on quality will be significant, because the
internal quality metrics cannot be documented. The work order is the internal
document that manages production of a specific BOM for a specified quantity.
Just as they use clipboards to keep track of inventory levels, many electronics manufacturers use a grease board, dry erase board, or a spiral notebook to track orders from suppliers, inventory, location transfers, customer orders, shipping information, work order picking, and inventory counts and adjustments. All of these can be done via mobile bar code scanning, but until now, many
electronics manufacturers have found this critical technology inaccessible because they were priced out of these solutions.
Using bar codes for components ensures that the correct ingredients are picked and overall production efficiency increases. The level of efficiency and reduction of errors decreases by an average of 10 percent
Serial numbers and Warranty or Acquisition dates
No one wants to keep inventory on the selves for too long. Nor do
electronics manufacturers or wholesalers want repair a unit with an expired
warrant period or better still a unit that they did not sell. By not
tracking serial numbers you are loosing money by
- Spending to much time researching serial numbers
- Repairing units that are not under warranty
- Repairing or allowing a return for something you did not even sell!