Every industry has its own obligations or issues that need to be delt with (operationally speaking). Due to the perishableness of their products, companies acting in the Food or Pharmaceutical industries have to control the expiration date (or best before date) of their products. This can be a real headache for those who don’t integrate this in their processes nor use technology to help.
To ensure consumer’s safety and well-being, healthcare and food regulators define strict rules concerning the properties of the products in the market. Moreover, consumers rely on them to regulate and assure there is no harm in buying stuff at grocery stores or pharmacies. Imagine this: you go to a store and buy a product you think it will make you feel better-looking or will help with your nutritional program. A couple of hours after using the product, you call to the emergencies because you are not feeling well! That cannot happen!
Every company in the food or pharmaceutical industry knows there is one of two possible things printed on almost every product that needs to be taken into consideration in the operational processes: the “expiration date” or “expiry date” and the “best before date”.
Best before date on the label or package signifies the end of the period under which the product will retain specific quality attributes or claims even though the product may continue to retain positive quality attributes after this date. Best before date is primarily used for consumer information and may be a regulatory requirement.GS1 (link)
The expiration date is the date that determines the limit of consumption or use of a product/coupon. Its meaning is determined based on the trade item context (e.g., for food, the date will indicate the possibility of a direct health risk resulting from use of the product after the date, for pharmaceutical products, it will indicate the possibility of an indirect health risk resulting from the ineffectiveness of the product after the date). It is often referred to as ‘use by date’ or ‘maximum durability date.GS1 (link)
HOW DOES THE “EXPIRATION DATE” OR “BEST BEFORE DATE” IMPACT ON MY PROCESSES?
As explained above, the way a company deals with this information is crucial to stay in business. Keep reading to know more about the way of dealing with this issue without jeopardizing your team’s efficiency.
Depending on the item, the industry or even the country, there may be differences in the rules to follow.
Imagine there’s a rule stating you cannot sell a (certain) product with an expiration/best before date shorter than 3 months. It means you can no longer dispatch that product to your customer if the expiration date is less than 3 months. With so many products in your portfolio, how can you manage this? We are going to look at 3 different use cases:
- The product has not yet been received;
- The product is stored somewhere in the warehouse and its expiration date is within the 3 months period;
- An order exists for a product which expiration date is less than 3 months
Use case 1: The product has not yet been received
Consider this scenario:
- Your supplier sends a product that will expire within 4 months;
- Your regulator states that type of product cannot be sold less than 3 months from the expiration date;
- The history of the product shows it usually stays in stock for 2 months before it is dispatched.
In this scenario you would have the cost of receiving the product, put it in stock and when you were ready to sell, it would not be available because of the 3 months’ rule.
So, how can you avoid this to happen?
In your LogisticsWMS Product settings area, insert the amount of time you want to consider before being alerted whilst in the receiving process (for example, 6 months).
While in the receiving process (see our related posts here and here), if the expiration/best before date of the product is going to expire within a 6 months period (or the amount of time configured in the settings), then an alert will appear on the screen.
Depending on the procedure your company has in place, the product may be set to a quality status and a complaint may be created (or some other procedure your company may have).
This way, you save a lot of time and effort, managing these situations beforehand.
Use case 2: The product is stored somewhere in the warehouse and its expiration date is within the 3 months period
Another use case you may have in your company is the need to know which products are going to expire in, for example, 3 months time. Since you cannot sell those, the products meeting the criteria shall be put aside . Plus, your logistics or quality manager has to assure the quality procedures for these cases are followed.
Go to your Products page and select “Download Stock”.
An excel file will be downloaded onto your PC and you can filter for the criteria you want. Afterwards, you shall displace the products setting a quality status and physically segregate them from the salable stock.
Repeat this procedure every month, in order to assure non-conforming products are out of the salable stock.
Use case 3: An order exists for a product which expiration date is less than 3 months
The software exists to help users get more done in less time and more efficiently. Logistics WMS considers whether a product can be picked or not, by design. Therefore, reducing the risk of sending a product that is not in proper condition to a customer is of the utmost importance to us.
Therefore, there’s an algorithm that analyzes the available stock for every order. If there is not enough stock to fulfill the order, an error will occur and the user will immediately know why. If there is enough stock then the order continues its path towards the picking.
Please know that this algorithm considers the following:
- What is the quantity in the order?
- Is there enough stock in the warehouse (even though it is not in the picking zone) to fulfill the quantity ordered? (“enough stock” means salable stock – which an expired product is not)
*If there is, then the process continues
*If there isn’t, then the process stops and a message is sent to the user
In this way, Logistics WMS helps to mitigate the risk of dispatching an expired product (or within a certain period). Use the settings to configure the period (image below).