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Projects:Referenced Inventory/Functional Specification


Functional Requirements


The functionality behind the Reference number is also known as the SSCC: Serial Shipping Container Code. While the SSCC is mainly focussed on logistical identification and handling in distribution between business partners (For instance, the SSCC# is present in EDI / ASN), the functionality of the Reference Number is a bit wider as it is also used for logistical identification and handling within a warehouse.

Referenced Inventory is the functionality that identifies one or multiple storage details (Stock records) by using a "Reference Number". The Reference Number can have two distinct uses:

  1. Shared References: Multiple Storage Details can share the same Reference Number and scanning the Reference will identify the list of Storage Details. In this case the scanned 'object' can be a roll-cage, box or pallet with a variety of products and quantities for further distribution.
  2. Unique References: Each Storage Detail (optionally) has a reference number, and this reference number is not re-used in other storage details. Scanning it would point to only one Storage Detail and uniquely identify it. In this case, the purpose of the Reference# is to uniquely identify a Storage Detail in a Warehouse to facilitate identification and movements. The Reference number can be used as method for Catch Weight, when product has a Base Unit of Measure in weight but specific storage details can have different weight.

The Reference number is typically system-generated, just by taking the last issued number and adding one.

Reference Number vs Serial Number

The Reference number is functionally different fom a Serial Number in the sense that a reference number only exists during the life-time inside the warehouse: It has no value outside the warehouse and a specific Storage Detail in a distribution chain could very well have different Reference Numbers when it was in different warehouses. In contrast, a serial number or lot/batch number identifies the stock during its complete life-time, regardless if it just was manufactured, already distributed and awaiting a customer or sold and perhaps requested a repair or service. Reference numbers and serial/lot number can co-exist as they serve different purposes.


A good way to see the dynamics of referenced inventory is when we recognize this as a typical complexity in the process business. Where its counterpart, the discrete business deals with discrete products and distribution.

As used in: Discrete products, Distribution and Multi-Product references

An additional use of the Reference# is to identify an object that consists of multiple products, typically a roll-cage, box or pallet that has been created as result of a picking process and is to travel as complete object to the next stage, either customer shipping or production. The process for that is to constitute a new reference and add the single objects to it. In that process, the single object will adopt the Reference# of the newly constituted object (pallet). See below an example of a multi-product pallet that share the same reference number.

Product Location Lot/Serial Reference Quantity (BaseUM)

Note that the total weight per lot is the sum of the individual single objects (cheeses).

As used in: Catch Weight, Process Industry

Referenced Inventory is typical for the process manufacturing industry:

Now we know for fact that each unit is not exactly 2,5 KG: If we would show enough decimals (and have proper measuring equipment), we would eventually see a digit different than 0. Consequently, a pack or pallet is also not exactly 10 or 500 KG... The business-question here is: "How relevant is this and do we want-or-need to record this in our system?"

See below an example of REFERENCED inventory of three GOLD BARs from the same batch (XYZ) but each have a slightly different weight. When we scan the REFERENCE 12345678, we know that we are transacting that specific gold bar, that is stored in SAFE-1 and has Lotnumber XYZ and weighs 1,00391 KG.

Product Location Lot/Serial Reference Quantity (BaseUM)
GOLD BAR SAFE-1 XYZ 12345678 1,00391
GOLD BAR SAFE-2 XYZ 23456789 0,99024
GOLD BAR SAFE-3 XYZ 34567890 1,00118

And here an example of NOT-REFERENCED inventory of 4000 KG of timber of 20*80*4 cm.

Product Location Lot/Serial Reference Quantity (BaseUM)
TMBR20*80*4 WHSE ABC 4000

From the perspective of the finance dept. there is 4000 KG of timber. From the perspective of the warehouse, there are 8 pallets. And from the perspective of the sales dept. there are either 1600 units or 400 packs. These are just different visualizations where all visualizations -obviously- accumulate to the same quantity, measured in BUM.

Product Location Lot/Serial Reference Quantity UoM GTIN
TMBR20*80*4 WHSE ABC 4000 KG (BUM)

Technical aspects

The Reference number is a new (optional) column in the Storage detail and the Storage Detail can be identified quickly by this reference number.

The Advanced Warehouse Operations module Front-End must be enhanced to recognize a scan of the Reference number and allow to generate multiple tasks in the case of a Shared Reference number.

The Routing should receive a flag that allows to blank-out a Reference number just before the Goods transaction takes place.

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