A license plate is simply an additional form of unique identification to mark a pallet or some grouping of products or materials. It’s used to rapidly move this group of products from one location to another without having to scan the individual contents of that group.
We have seen license plating used many ways by our customers to solve material tracking problems both creatively and efficiently.
This warehouse best practise requires that you have a warehouse management system or some way of producing an identifying label or placard that can be tracked in a WMS or just a spreadsheet.
1. Pallet Profiling
Use the license plate to be more than just a unique identifier. Associate the LP with a lot #, part #, date created, good to date, expiry date, production date, quantity, etc. Such that a simple scan gives the worker a detailed history of the pallet and this also supports more efficient stock rotation through FIFO or LIFO practices.
Apply a license plate at receiving, this will support rapid putaway and/or cross docking.
3. Work in Progress goods tracking
WIP areas are the black holes of manufacturing. This is the stage where raw materials are converted into finished goods. During this “in between stage” goods are not visible to your WMS or MRP. However applying a license plate label to these products now makes them visible for tracking and profiling purposes. This will make it easy to move products to other work cells, store them away (in the case of food products), or identify the stage and quantity of WIP production.
Perhaps the most common use of license plates is the picking process. This is especially helpful if you’re doing a batch pick where you need to identify which items belong to which order. Also in a paperless environment, license plates help the folks in Shipping identify which orders to load.
Use license plates during the staging process. Attribute the staged shipment to a single license plate applied on the first pallet and the last pallet. Which means confirm movement of the staged shipment into a truck you need only scan the start of load license plate and the end of load license plate. This also supports last second additions to the load as the license plate acts as a locator in the shipping area.
In the food industry all consumable items come with a lot number. In many situations they are not barcoded nor easily read by a scanner. Capturing this lot # slows the receiving process down and is very error prone. For companies in food distribution where their mantra is turns, turns, turns – they can ill afford to manually enter this lot#. However they still need some form of traceability in the event of a recall. A license plate can be produced which has a unique identifier which can have the printing or receiving date along with a part number. And If your WMS can do it, it can also generate a” good to date” based the part profile and receiving date, thereby preventing stale dated product from reaching your customers. The BIG BIG benefit is that you can better enforce FIFO picking to get better stock rotation.
7. Other Applications
Use it to identify return stock to vendor, for quarantine or holds, reserve materials ordered for special projects, and in manufacturing give them to your third party processors to apply them to product coming back to your facility.
The use of license plates is limited only by your imagination (and perhaps skill of your IT team). This elegant solution can solve many of your inventory tracking problems whenever there’s a need for an additional level of identification.
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. For more information on barcoding practices visit our blog