Unique Numbers vs Serial Numbers

When inputting information into an inventory tracking system, you will be prompted to enter a specific number for tracking purposes. You may be tempted to enter the serial number for the item that was issued by the manufacturer located below the bar code. This method, though it may be a more simple method, is one that can prove disastrous in the long run.

Think of serial numbers like children. Each one is unique, but despite their differences they can have the same name and birth date. Parents at different ends of the country named their children the same name on the same day. The same thing happens with production companies. Sony and Sanyo may both make a television and there may be a matching serial number.

If at any point a serial number is used as a tracking number and those numbers are duplicated, this will cause confusion. There is no way to tell the two items apart when this happens and can cause a compromise of the data’s integrity. After such an event, customer balances may be off and inventory tracking is skewed because there is no way to tell for sure which item was disbursed to which individual. This is especially bad when the items have a large difference in cost. All of these situations can be avoided, however, through the use of unique number identifiers.

Unique numbers are exactly what their name describes them as: unique. These numbers are assigned to assets and inventory items in order to keep tabs on them. They can be as simple as starting with 001 and moving forward until you reach 999, or they can be more complex in nature. The decision to use unique number identifiers is one which allows a company the opportunity to number each particular asset/inventory item without the concern of duplicating numbers between items later on. In the rare event one of the tracking numbers is lost, the asset can be looked up according to its serial number listed in the inventory and can be re-labeled.

The use of serial numbers, while they can be effective, can lead to confusion. Using unique numbers as tracking IDs to identify items is a much more efficient way to ensure accuracy in your inventory.

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