Product Serialization is the concept of assigning a unique number to each individual unit of a product for its traceability throughout the supply chain. This is usually done for high value products e.g. electronics etc. where tracking of each individual item sold to the customer is important. Apart from tracking which sellable individual units have been sold to the customer it also helps to track and trace individual serialized components that have gone into making of that unit.
This is a three part blog which describes the benefits, configuration and setup, end to end process flow and tracking and traceability features for serialization in SAP Business ByDesign release 1802.
First blog provides an overview, setup and configuration and use of serial numbers in procure to pay business process. Second blog focuses on Make To Stock business process. Third blog describes the use of serial numbers in Order To Cash process, serial number inventory visibility & genealogy and related data sources and reports.
Tracking products by serial numbers might be a regulatory requirement in certain industries but in general they provide the following benefits:
- Warranty Tracking
If a product sold to a customer carries warranty, it is important to know what product has been sold to which customer on which date and how long is the warranty valid. These characteristics are captured in Registered Product object in Business ByDesign. Registered Products are automatically created in the system when Serial Numbers are generated/ input during the process and updated during outbound delivery with customer information
- Inventory Tracking
Serial Numbers are tracked at inventory level. Thus, it is possible to see which physical unit is at what location in the warehouse i.e. if the unit is at receiving doc, storage bin, issued to production, issued to customer etc. Hence providing much granular and accurate inventory visibility
- Product Traceability
Apart from tracking which sellable unit has been sold to which customer, it is possible to trace the individual serialized components which have gone into making of a finished item. This is achieved via serialized hierarchy and is helpful during a product recall.
Further serial numbers become important in tracking and tracing of components for make to order and customized products (specified products).
Serialized product offers several benefits as described above but these benefits should be weighed against the additional data maintenance required during the processes. Thus, it is important to determine which products should be serialized and at which stage in the process.
Following flow chart shows at high level serial number creation, validation, tracking and consumption process flow. Further details of these steps would be shown in detailed process flow in the subsequent sections.
Currently serial number recording is supported in the following business scenarios:
- Supplier Delivery
- Return to Supplier
- Customer Delivery
- Third Party Delivery
- Customer Return
- Over-the-counter sales
- Service Confirmation (for spare parts)
- Third Party Repair (for spare parts)
- Customer return of repaired materials
- Intra Company Stock Transfer
- Physical Inventory
- Internal Logistics Movements
Following two steps are required to use serial numbers effectively in the system.
Type: Fine Tuning in Business Configuration
Navigation: Business Configuration -> Implementation Projects -> Open Activity List -> Activity: Serial Number Generation for Registered Products
Purpose: The purpose of this fine-tuning activity is to define serial number template(s) which captures the serial number range. Multiple templates can be defined and a template can be shared across products.
This is an optional fine tuning activity and is only required if system generated serial numbers are to be created in a process. Also, there is a default template (A001) delivered with the system, which is assigned per default to the products with the new serial number profile.
1.Define a new template
Add a new template by clicking “Add Row” and provide ID and Description.
Note: ID is limited to 4 characters
Unique Across Assigned Materials flag: If a template is going to be used with multiple products, then this flag controls whether the serial number needs to be unique across products or not.
When this flag is unchecked, the serial numbers are unique within a product but might not be across the products
When this flag is checked, the serial numbers are unique within a product and across the products
2. Define the number range for the template
Define the prefix, length, number range and validity dates for the serial number template
3. Assigned Materials
This is read only screen and is based on template assigned to materials in the product master
Type: Master Data
Navigation: Product Data -> Materials -> General tab -> General Information: Serial Number Profile & Number Range Template
Purpose: Serial Number Profile captures when (if any) serial numbers are captured in the system. To use the inventory tracked serial numbers, “Mandatory on all Logistics & Production Processes” profile should be selected
Number Range Template captures which serial number template should be used for system generated serial numbers during a process
- Select Serial Number Profile as “Mandatory on all Logistics & Production Processes”, for those products which need to be serially tracked
- Select the Number Range Template from the one defined in the configuration step “Serial Number Template” for automatic number generation. By default, system provided template A001 is assigned.
Note: Depending upon system setting, these two field might have to be unhidden via Adaptation or personalization
A typical Procure to pay process goes through the following steps:
Purchase Order -> Supplier Delivery Notification -> Goods Receipt -> Supplier Invoice
This section shows various steps and ways to capture serial numbers during procure to pay process.
A purchase order is created with items to be bought. This step is the same as for non-serialized items
It is possible to enter Serial Numbers (although not mandatory), if provided by the supplier, during supplier delivery notification (Inbound Delivery Notification)
The Serial Numbers can be entered i) manually using “Add Row” or ii) uploaded via excel using “Upload”.
The following screen shot shows serial numbers entered manually
Points to Note:
- Entering serial number is not mandatory but possible during Inbound Delivery Notification
- There is error check for duplicate entries
- There is a warning message if number of entered serial numbers is less than the open quantity
For serialized products, serial numbers are mandatory and actual quantity is incremented by entering the serial numbers.
The serial numbers can be entered i) confirming serial numbers entered during Supplier Delivery Notification ii) manually in “Next Serial Number” field iii) Generated automatically using “Generate” button iv) uploaded via excel using “Upload” button v) input via bar code scanning in the “Bar Code Input” tab
i) Confirming serial numbers entered during Supplier Delivery Notification
Screenshot below shows the serial numbers are confirmed, which were entered during Supplier Delivery Notification
ii) Manually entering serial number in “Next Serial Number” field
Serial Numbers are manually entered in the “Next Serial Number” field
iii) Automatic Generation using “Generate” Button
When the “Generate” button is clicked, system prompts for the number of serial numbers to be generated.
System automatically generates serial numbers based on the serial number template assigned in the material master. These serial numbers are then confirmed using the “Confirm” button
iv) Upload using Excel
A simple excel file with serial number column (without header) is created
This file is uploaded using the upload button
The uploaded serial numbers are confirmed using the “Confirm” button. Multiple line items can be selected.
Points to Note:
- Entering Serial Numbers is mandatory for the serialized products
- There is error check for duplicate entries
There is no visibility of serial numbers in supplier invoice as this document is not sent to the supplier
In summary, this blog provided an overview of serial number functionality in Business ByDesign. Further it described the needed setup and configuration and lastly provided a detailed step by step use of serial numbers in Procure To Pay business process. Next part of this blog series will focus on use of serial numbers in Make To Stock business process.