Everything you didn’t know you needed to know about lot numbers

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
April 18, 2022
3 min read
Everything you didn’t know you needed to know about lot numbers

Sometimes it’s useful to be able to track products by when they were made and which other similar items were made alongside them. Whether you simply want an idea of how long your production chain takes from design to manufacturing, or whether the worst happens and a product needs to be recalled, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to have a way of pinpointing when a certain item or group of items was produced just in case any adjustments need to be made or any information is required. Enter the lot number.

But what’s a lot number, anyway? What is a lot code?

When addressing the question ‘what does lot number mean’, it might seem complex at first. However, the answer is actually quite simple. The lot number on products, also occasionally known as a product batch number, is exactly what it says on the tin. When a group of items are all made together, the batch of inventory is assigned a special code and defined as a lot so it can be tracked later just in case something goes wrong. This is especially true in the food, medical, and automotive industries where safety is a top priority and it’s especially important to know how to read a lot number expiration date (tip: check the first six digits! The first two represent the year, the second two represent the month, and the final two the date). If you’re asking yourself “Well, where is the lot number on a product?”, follow this simple rule: the code should be printed somewhere on the packaging, typically near other identifying codes. If there’s an information plaque, check there first.

Yes, but what is lot?

This simply refers to a group of products, all produced together. They can be large groups or small groups, as long as they’re all manufactured with the same batch of materials and go out all in one run.

What are some lot number examples?

Let’s break this down a little further so we can be extra sure that we understand the lot number meaning. Let’s look at the following code: 210917502 It may all seem complicated, but every single digit there is custom-designed to maximize lot tracking efficiency. The first two digits represent the year: in this case, the year 2021. The second two represent the month: September, in this case. And then the next two represent the date. September 17, 2021. But what about the other three numbers? Well, in many cases, manufacturers will represent both the sub-plant the product was produced in (in this case, 5) and the batch of the day (02 in this case).

What’s the difference between batch codes and other forms of identification?

Great you asked. While product batch codes are specifically used in order to track and identify specific groups of goods, there are other identifiers that can be useful for a merchant to be familiar with.

First, SKUs (pronounced “skews”), or stock keeping units. These are in-house identifiers composed of a string of 8-12 alphanumeric characters. They’re used to manage inventory on a brand-to-brand level. Each and every company will have its own system, although efficiency and best practice mandates might make them look pretty similar at times.

Universal Product Codes (UPCs or barcodes), on the other hand, are universal across all companies. Set in place by the Global Standards Organization, they’re meant for use by all corporations and commerce outlets. They’re universally 12 characters and all numerals, meaning it’s pretty hard to confuse the two. Working together, these three identifiers make sure that an item can be categorized, tracked, and quantified.

And just like that, the mystery surrounding the lot number on products is revealed! Now you’re free from having to scramble to search ‘what is the lot number’ or ‘what does ‘lot’ mean on a product’ because you’re already a pro. Go forth and manage your inventory with confidence and with the knowledge that regardless of all the confusing terms being thrown around, you’ve got a solid handle on their definitions and what they mean for you and your business.

If you’re worried about tracking all your batch codes, not to worry. P2Pseller has your back. We make sure that you’re able to track your goods, inventory, and order to a precise level of detail and offer round-the-clock real time updates from our convenient website or app. Whether you’re at the office, on the bus, or sitting on the couch, you can rest easy knowing that we’ve got the finer points taken care of. Make a free account today to browse our offerings and see how we can partner with you in order to scale your infrastructure and grow your business.


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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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