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Product Serial Number

How To Fix Your Serial Numbers Issues

Why Serial Numbers?

Folks who use serial numbers can improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
Here are some typical issues and common requirements across industries.
What are the typical problems with Serial Numbers:
1. Cradle-to-Grave Lifecycle Tracking Requirements
Each serial number has its own life-cycle. Serial numbers come into existence during either manufacturing or procurement or conversion. When people know more about their serial numbers, they experience great benefits:
  • The know the location of serialized parts in or during:
  • Warehouse
  • En-route during shipping
  • At a customer site
  • In repair
  • The complete history of the serialized part, including:
  • Sales and service events,
  • Material movements.
  • Warranty and Service contract coverage and entitlements
Business Scenario: One of your customer calls your service hot-line. They provide your call center agent with a part number and Serial Number. The SAP system immediately reveals whether the part is under warranty. It also tells you what service coverage you provide for that part. The SAP ACS Warranty Management system will also tell you what up-charge to offer.
For example, you provide "Repair" coverage. If the customer wants added services, rush delivery service in 24 hours versus the usual 3 days, up-sell it. Another up-sell option would be to sell an extended warranty during the call.
Easier said than done.
You need to know whether the issue occurred:
  • After order taking,
  • While the unit is being picked and packed,
  • During shipping, 
  • Immediately after receipt,
  • DOA (Dead on Arrival)
  • Issues with the material,
  • or at a later time:
The goal is always to make the customer whole again and happy.
Think Amazon Returns.
Industry trend: service contracts allow for better RMA services.
4. Equipment Records, You Can Do That?
In SAP, you expand the serial number record to become an equipment record.
That is where a lot of the serial specific data and history lives within the equipment record. The equipment record has a system-wide unique ID, the Equipment Number. You tie the equipment record is to the material and serial number.
Using unique equipment number is a great concept to leverage within your company. Many times the serial number is unique enough to identify a part.
Business Scenario: The same serial number exist on two or more materials. You get a unique record by combining the serial number and part number.
The equipment number is a unique internal record ID. It is a very useful number:
  • The equipment number is that one ID that immediately finds the record. 100% match.
  • Folks take advantage of that, by printing the equipment number on the equipment tag
  • Or, load the equipment number to the RFID tag, or 3-D bar code.
Technicians embrace the equipment number in short order,
utilizing it during their work rather than the serial number,- which may not yield an immediate hit.
The equipment record then is the home of all things serialized.  While it may sound trivial, Serialization provides many untapped improvements. This is huge!
5. Serial Number Itself
The S/N width and template itself is an important discussion:
  • How wide are your serial numbers?
  • Up to 18 chars?
  • What do existing serial numbers look like?
  • What are your current naming rules?
  • Current and future naming standards are important, is it a speaking serial number?
  • What are the recommendations in SAP? Up for a conversation.
6. Integrating with other functions
Part numbers and serial numbers within the Aerospace and Defense industry are special. They use engineering orders for control.
The USAF calls it TCTO or Time Compliance Technical Order. Sometimes, these have us do something to the item in question.
Which in turn, makes it a new part or serial number.
Your business rules around S/Ns may differ between organizations. You can configure SAP to handle these rules.
Serial number management integration areas that come to mind:
  • Engineering Change Management
  • Document Management
  • Inventory Management, Supply Chain
  • MDM
  • Procurement, PO, Receiving – goods-receiving of serials
  • If S/N recording at time of GR is not an option (because it's buried on a palette or too many) there are other ways to create S/Ns
  • Sales, and, Service
Want to learn more about serial number management? Interested in understanding how SAP can help you manage your serial numbers? Then you will want to download our SAP Serial Number Overview presentation. Click the button to grab your copy.
Download Your Serial Number Management in SAP Overview

Soren Detering

My name is Soren. I am the founder of Detering Consulting. I began the company in 2003 because I wanted to provide more value for SAP customers. I knew that many of them were missing out on all the great benefits that could be obtained from the software. Before establishing Detering Consulting, I completed my education by obtaining a Master’s in Computer Science. After that, I worked at SAP in Germany and SAP Labs in North America for 10 years. My extensive background in solution management, project planning and -management, implementation services and leadership includes experience in: Automotive, A&D, High Tech, Medical Equipment, and Manufacturing Industries.
Me and my teams have successfully assisted many customers with their SAP ERP software, completed several full life cycle implementation projects, and carried out over 30 projects in SAP ECC and S/4 Hana. My experience has given me the unique ability to scope out ERP solutions in a very short amount of time. I have a knack for finding untapped money-making opportunities and discovering areas where customers could be saving money. I currently live and work in Palo Alto, CA just 10 minutes away from the SAP office. I dedicate myself to helping our clients with our SAP consulting services. In my spare time, I enjoy sailing, kickboxing, and spending time with my family and our two Taiwanese Mountain dogs.

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