Traceability is major requirement in many manufacturing industries. Manufacturers have to record precisely each lot of materials consumed in each step of the manufacturing process. Ultimately they must be able to take any pack of finished goods and be able to say what went in it, when and where. It means tracking back through semi-finished goods processes, back to incoming raw materials from suppliers.

Whilst ERP manages inventory and replenishment, it is usually working at a high level – concerned about inventory availability and lead times driven off back-flushing. Whilst not impossible, it is uncommon for ERP systems to effectively track the consumption of inventory at lot number level in manufacturing. MES systems are naturally positioned to capture the traceability information at the point of consumption.


The Traceability – Consumption module of Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition works with the Inventory module to facilitate material traceability. It is able to:

  • Record the pack number of each pack of inventory as it is loaded into the line or machine. The pack number can read from the bar-code label of the material being consumed, all information related to that pack is known.
  • Automatically capture when each pack was loaded; the duration it was used, who loaded it, the Production Order, the work centre, etc.
  • Validate the consumed materials are correct against the materials specified in the BOM
  • Check if materials are not fully consumed, they may be returned to stores with the remaining quantity, to be used again in future.
  • Link with the ERP system to inform the quantities of actual materials consumed rather than the more traditional back-flush methods.
  • Check use-by and use-after dates
  • Check FIFO rules

When Used with Other Modules

When the Traceability – Consumption module is used in conjunction with other modules of Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition more opportunities open up. For example:

  • Inventory: all inventory is known before the point of consumption and so can be validated at the point of use. Checks can be made in terms of the material state – you can’t consume material that has been isolated; aging criteria i.e. best before date, use after date.
  • Build Traceability: this takes traceability to the additional level of individual serialised part numbers


  • End to end traceability – effect complete traceability by tracking in time materials used (at a lot number level) against product created. This gives complete end to end material traceability of products created.
  • Two way traceability – find materials used in product made, or find all products made using a material lot.
  • Check materials before they are used – ensure the operators are always using the correct materials in the production process by validating against the BOM
  • Enforce age of materials constraints – in some environments “use-by” and “use-after” dates need to be enforced, Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition checks these automatically at the point of consumption.
  • Enforce FIFO rules – many companies want to impose FIFO rules relating to the use of raw materials and work in progress. FIFO rules can be checked at consumption to ensure the correct lot of material is always being used.
  • Accurate stock control – optionally update ERP systems of actual stock used, when used, rather than back flushing.