Companies handling batch-managed materials with expiration dates should consider implementing the recurring inspection...
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functionality in the SAP Quality Management (QM) component.
The benefits of these logistics and supply chain processes are clear: Recurring inspection prevents the waste that occurs when products expire. SAP QM also provides an opportunity for companies to ensure timely inspection and decide if the materials near expiration are still usable, can have their expiration dates extended or can be sold on a priority basis at a discount.
Here are the steps to activate and begin using recurring inspection in SAP QM:
- Activate inspection type 09 in the SAP QM tab of the material master for recurring inspection.
- Maintain the inspection interval in the QM tab of the material master to define the frequency with which a batch of materials needs repeat or recurring inspection.
- Maintain the details related to the shelf life of a material, such as the minimum shelf life and total shelf life in the Plant data/Storage 1 view of the material master. The total shelf life should be greater than the minimum shelf life. Further, the inspection interval -- see step 2 above -- should be lower than the total shelf life.
- For materials produced in house, the system calculates the shelf life of a material's batch when the warehouse receives finished or semi-finished products. For externally procured materials, the system prompts the warehouse person to enter or maintain the material's expiration date either from the vendor's quality certificates or the accompanying shipping documents.
- Maintain the QM-specific master data of a material, such as its inspection plan, which contains details of the material's sample size and its physical or chemical attributes -- known as master inspection characteristics -- to be inspected.
- Use transaction QA07 -- see Figure 1 -- to initiate the process of recurring inspection and maintain the parameters of what the system should do in case a material's batch is reaching its expiration. If required, the system can even block usage of a material's batch until recurring inspection is performed.
- Using transaction QA05, it is also possible to set up a regular interval, such as every three days, when the system will automatically look for material batches that are about to expire, and then automatically create an inspection work list for quality inspectors.
To evaluate which batches of materials are about to expire -- or have already expired -- use transaction MB5M -- Figure 2. Note that companies that have not implemented the recurring inspection functionality in the SAP QM component can access this.
Even when the SAP Quality Management component is not implemented, transaction QA07 -- Figure 1 -- can still be used to block expired batches of materials from being consumed. The tradeoff with this option is that it only blocks the materials from usage, but does not offer all the business processes that come with implementing recurring inspection in SAP QM.
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