Serialized Inventory – Terms and Concepts

This section describes some of the common terms that are used when describing the Serialized Inventory System. 

Serial Number - The identification number that is assigned to a specific inventory item.  Serial numbers may be numeric or alphanumeric.  The combination of the inventory item number and serial number must be unique (only one instance of each item/serial number may exist in the Serial Master file).  The serial number may be assigned by the manufacturer of the item or it may be assigned by the company that is selling the item. 

Serial Receiving - The process whereby the serial number of each serialized inventory item is entered into the system as the items are received into inventory.  Serialized inventory records are created as the inventory is received.  When items are serialized on receipt, the system will check during invoicing, and or inventory transfer to ensure that only valid serial numbers (numbers that have been entered into system and which are in stock) are transferred or invoiced. 

Kitting - Kitting is the process where groups of individual inventory items are sold and invoiced as a kit.  Several items may be identified as components of a "Kit" and then the items can be ordered and or invoiced using the Kit Item Number.  Serialized Kitting is the process whereby the operator enters the serial numbers of all of the serialized items contained within the kit as the kit is invoiced to the customer.

Serialized Finished Product - A PC manufacturer assembles a portable computer containing a motherboard, hard disk and floppy diskette drive.  All of these are individually serialized and need to be tracked to allow for warranty claims in the case of component failure.  The finished PC also has a serial number.  The components used have serial numbers that need to be tracked to the top level serial number of the PC.

Non-serialized Finished Product - The same PC manufacturer may also produce desktop systems that consist of a PC base unit, a monitor and a keyboard.  Each of these items has a serial number but the complete unit does not.  It is only a logical sales unit and is not assembled by manufacturing, but picked by the shipping department.

Sold To:  The company or person to whom the serialized item was (sold) invoiced.  When a serialized inventory item is invoiced, the Bill To Company from the invoice is moved to the Sold To field of the Serial Master record for the item.

Owner:  The owner is the person or company who owns the item.  The owner can be the same person or company as the sold to or the owner can be a different person or company.  For example, an item may be sold to a company that resells the item to another company.  In this case the sold to company is the company to whom the item was invoiced and the owner is the company that received the item from the sold to company.  When a serialized item is invoiced, the Bill to company from the invoice is moved into both the Sold To and the Owner field in the Serial Master file.  Later, when the eventual owner of the item is identified (from a registration card for instance), the operator can reassign the owner field to the company who owns the item.  The system does require that the owner be entered into the Company Master file, so in the example above, the operator would need to create a Company Master file record for the owner (if one did not already exist) before assigning the owner to the item.

Location:  The physical location where the item is installed or located.  The location of the item can be the same as or different than the owner.  When a serialized item is invoiced, the Ship To information from the invoice is moved to the Location field in the Serial Master record for the item.    This location information may later be updated by the operator if the item is moved and the operator wishes to update the record with the new information.  The location fields are “free form", meaning that the information used in these fields (company, address, etc) does not need to be present elsewhere in the database to be attached to the item.  The system allows the operator to assign the location of the item from the Company or Shipto Master files, or to simply key in the desired information in the appropriate fields.  By not requiring the name and address to be present in the Company or Shipto Master files, the system allows the user to store the information about the end user of each serialized item without having to clutter the database with unused company records (companies and individuals that you do not do business with directly).  This feature is especially useful for companies who sell to dealers who in turn sell to end users.  The dealer name must be present in the Company Master file of the database in order to invoice the item and assign the dealer to the sold to field for the serial record, but the person or company that the dealer transfers the item to (the "end user") does not.  When the "end user" later registers the item (if applicable) the operator can key the information into the serial location field without first having to enter the new record into the Company Master file. The operator should note that if the information entered into the location field is not present elsewhere in the database, then the amount of information available will be limited to the information present in the Serial Master record for the item.


Serialized Inventory Processing Overview