Product Shelf Life, FIFO and Traceability

Q

Quality-1

#1
Product Shelf Life

Hi:

Like to know how various companies are doing for "Product Shelf Life"?

I mean, if you have warehouse which is off-site somewhere hundreds of miles away, do you do periodic Product Audit or do you provide guidelines to the warehouse or ?

I will be more interested in hearing someone for Electrical Componenets.

Thank you
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#2
What is the shelf life of a 'typical' electronic component? A number of years, I expect.

I guess a lot depends upon whether you have a functioning First In First Out inventory system in place. If so you should be able to label it and not have a problem.

If you don't have FIFO, you must have cycle counters or something similar so you might be able to integrate it into that system.

A yearly inventory system would be a last resort.

If you don't have any of the above, you're cooked anyway.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
Quality-1 said:
Like to know how various companies are doing for "Product Shelf Life"?

I mean, if you have warehouse which is off-site somewhere hundreds of miles away, do you do periodic Product Audit or do you provide guidelines to the warehouse or ?
It seems to me the proliferation of barcoding and portable barcode readers make it relatively easy to maintain tabs on one or more warehouses of inventory.

Barcode styles, especially the 2D ones (similar to the square group of dots on a UPS shipping label), can carry hundreds of characters of information. With that many characters available, you can have a lot more information about the product than a standard UPC code like on your toothpaste or cereal box.

Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to label individual pills, capsules, one-time hypos, etc. for tracking products at every stage in the supply chain from manufacture to administration to a patient in a hospital or clinic setting.

It seems almost too wonderful for words - if the barcode readers are WIFI to the computer network, all data about the inventory can be real time, up to, and including the nurse or aide who runs the dose through her reader before administering to confirm it goes to the right patient (compared against code on patient wrist band), right dosage, and updates patient's chart - no more sloppy handwriting.

In addition, Walmart and some other firms have dictated that pallet loads be identified with a radio transponder so when a clerk walks down a warehouse aisle, he can press a trigger on a gun and download the info about the pallet contents, check it against the database and confirm it is in the right bin or tell which bin it's in. Pretty slick, huh?

Industry experts expect the cost and size of the radio transponders to drop so they can be placed on smaller than a pallet load packaging (individual garments and appliances) to update inventory when customer goes past checkout or tries to leave store without going past checkout.

Interested enough to research more about this? Visit http://www.frontlinetoday.com/frontline/, an industry publication which has good links and articles about Warehouse Management Systems.
 
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P

p_tww

#4
Quality-1 said:
Like to know how various companies are doing for "Product Shelf Life"?

I mean, if you have warehouse which is off-site somewhere hundreds of miles away, do you do periodic Product Audit or do you provide guidelines to the warehouse or ?
I guess you are a ISO/TS certified company, and you are considering on the frequency of product audit.
If so, you must research with your customer on the market life, then you could decide the frequency of the product audit. please remember, you should ask whether your customer have the specific requirement.

Product audit could be carried out at various production stage, material preparation, in processing, packaging, stock. you could decided how to do this by yourself.
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#5
My problem here is that the shelf life of most electronics I have dealt with was something like 5 to 7 years. If you are warehousing parts that long, why? Repair and replacement parts?

Wes is right - there are many ways to tag items. I know where shelf life is critical, as with some paints, certain adhesives and such, I have seen companies keep special storage areas for those items alone with a list much like a calibration recall list. Product comes in, is tagged and put on the list. The list is reviewed at a period appropriate to the criticallity.

I have seen where companies had good FIFO systems and this, while an issue, was never addressed per se. The situation was looked at, and it was easy to prove that the material was always used well before shelf life was reached. This was in QS-9000 situations. One instance was an adhesive with a 3 month shelf life. Their FIFO system was robust so no special treatment was given to the material. Records were availale which showed that material was always used within 30 days - usually within 15 days. Thus, there was no viable cause to have a specific system to address shelf life for that material.

Considering Wes's post, the ideal situation would be one where each item would be labeled with a transponder label on receipt and that individual transponder label would be keyed with an expiration date at which point it would 'turn on' when queried by an RF signal and notify a database (or other appropriate software - an e-mail could be sent, for example) that the material was, or was close to, expiring. That in turn would trigger an alert to the warehouse supervisor. Typically these transponder labels are 'passive' - they are queried by an RF signal, which technically powers them and turns them on - and they return a reply - so, no batteries or other power source is necessary. This type of tagging has, in fact, been used in many industries for well over 10 years - Probably longer. In addition, several antennas can be used in a warehouse to query the tags daily or more frequently so you don't even need a person.

You can get as elaborate as you want. There were a couple of really good guys at Motorola Phoenix who set up a system for document control. When someone submitted a request for change via the intranet or the internet, their beepers went off and the request for change could be read (paged through) over their pagers. Over kill? I thought so but technology wise it was really impressive. They had one heck of a system. Those were two smart, motivated fellas.
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
Marc said:
Considering Wes's post, the ideal situation would be one where each item would be labeled with a transponder label on receipt and that individual transponder label....
Thanks for the affirmation, Marc. Document management systems similar to the one you describe at Motorola are available off-the-shelf. The notification system can be set depending on the urgency of getting approval for a change (i.e. email notice for normal course of events, beeper or cell phone for urgent, fast-breaking stuff.) I see no reason the application could not be extended to inventory alerts up and down the supply chain. (If the stuff is starting to go "stale" then maybe it's time to have a sale before it has to be scrapped at a total loss.)

It's easy [for me] to imagine potential in being able to have real-time data for inventory management to reorder, change marketing strategy, pricing, determine quantity to have on hand by comparing average purchase quantity with lead time for replacement.

The wonder is not that the systems are available and being used, but that relatively few companies are taking advantage of the technology.

More and more organizations are adding barcodes to paperwork to eliminate the errors of hand entry when paperwork is presented at various stages of supply chain. In addition, by directly attaching barcode readers to network via hard wire or WIFI, an organization can have real-time data availabiliity.

For example, all the playoff tickets at Wrigley Field were barcoded with a unique ID and scanned at each gate. Bogus copies, forgeries, and counterfeits were instantly detected, avoiding confrontation in stands when several patrons appear to have tickets for same seat. Bonus was real time count of audience and data mining to determine original sales source of tickets for future promotions, etc.
 
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#7
Quality-1 said:
Hi:

Like to know how various companies are doing for "Product Shelf Life"?

I mean, if you have warehouse which is off-site somewhere hundreds of miles away, do you do periodic Product Audit or do you provide guidelines to the warehouse or ?

I will be more interested in hearing someone for Electrical Componenets.

Thank you
In your case product shelf life may have two definitions:

- shelf to monitor deterioration of materials;
- shelf life to monitor for obsolescence.

As noted previously, some electronic components may have a shelf life of 5 to 7 years, however they my be obsoleted within three months of purchase.

In addition to the above suggestions, I would suggest that you place your suppliers on a strict "notification of revision" policy. Also , include the revision status in your inventory control system.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#8
"The Boston Globe reports today http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/10/17/replacing_the_checkout_line/ that area supermarket Stop & Shop is adding computers with Bluetooth barcode scanners, 802.11 networking and infrared positional sensors to shopping carts in one of its stores. 'The Shopping Buddy automatically displays which aisle you're in, what's on sale there, and what you bought the last time you strolled through.' Most Stop & Shop stores already have automated self-checkout lanes. Is this the future of shopping?

It all depends upon the importance of tracking, but the costs to do this stuff have fallen dramatically.
 
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