Overview of serialized items

A serialized item is a physical occurrence of a standard item that is given a unique lifetime serial number. This enables you to track the individual item throughout its lifetime, for example, through the design, production, testing, distribution, and maintenance phases. A serialized item can consist of other serialized components.

Some business examples of the use of serialized items are:

  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) that is used in the car industry
  • The tail numbers that are used in the Aerospace and Defense industry
  • The serial numbers that are used in the electronics industry

A serialized item is identified by the item code in combination with the serial number.

In LN, you can define every type of item as a serialized item.

Note that a serialized item is not the same as a unit effective item. A serialized item has a serial number that is used to identify and track individual items, whereas a unit effectivity item has an effectivity unit that provides some information about the item's configuration. However, an item can be both serialized and unit effective.

You can allocate serial numbers to serialized items during specific stages of an item's life cycle in the following LN packages:

  • Manufacturing
  • Warehousing
  • Service

In Manufacturing, shop floor operators can enter serial numbers for new manufactured items during various stages of the production process. They can enter a serial number manually, or they can generate a serial number based on a specific mask.

Serial numbers are entered in as-built structures. An as-built structure reflects the configuration of a product. The product has a serialized number; the component items in the as-built structure can be serialized or non-serialized. If the component items are serialized, serial numbers are either allocated to the components when they are issued from the warehouse, or the shop floor operators allocate the serial numbers when they add the components to the as-built structure.

You can use the serial numbers assigned to manufactured items for tracking through warehousing, sales, and service processes.


The need to track items by means of serial numbers arises from the items' cost. The more expensive the item, the more closely you want to monitor the item during its life cycle. In general, expensive items are produced and handled in relatively small quantities, whereas the goods flow of less expensive items involves larger quantities. In LN, this concept is modeled in the following scenarios:

  • Low volume
    This scenario is used for expensive items produced and handled in relatively small quantities that require intensive tracking throughout the warehouse flow. When received in the warehouse or issued from the warehouse, a serial number is allocated, either manually or automatically, to each serialized item. Upon receipt, each item/serial number combination is individually registered in inventory. For each inventory transaction, such as a receipt, transfer, or an issue, the inventory records of the serialized items are updated.
  • High volume
    The high volume scenario is used for relatively less expensive items produced and handled in large quantities that require less intensive tracking. In this scenario, serialized items are not registered in inventory. Consequently, no inventory records exist that show updates on inventory transactions. However, for each item-by-warehouse you can specify whether serial numbers must be registered for receipts, transfers, and/or issues. This helps you obtain an overview of the whereabouts of particular serialized items through warehousing but also enables you to skip scrutinizing serials where you do not need it.

Warehousing also enables you to track the orders that initiated the receipt, transfer, or issue of serialized items, such as production orders, purchase orders, or sales orders. This option is available for both the high volume and the low volume scenario.


To obtain product information and to register item replacements for service and maintenance purposes, you can copy as-built structures created in Manufacturing to product structures called physical breakdowns in Service.

You can define an item as serialized to be able to track the item in all transactions that take place within Service. To interact with other areas such as production or warehousing, you must define the item as serialized in Common as well.

The Maintenance Sales Control and Work Control System modules deal with service and maintenance activities performed at your own company. The Service Order Control module deals with service and maintenance activities performed at customer sites. Both scenarios involve the sale and delivery of (spare part) items, the sale of repair and maintenance activities, the receipt of returned items, and replacement of items.

  • Maintenance Sales Control
    All sales activities involved in service and maintenance and all repair and maintenance jobs on customer-owned items performed at your own company are handled by means of maintenance sales orders. For each type of activity, you must add the appropriate type of order line to the Maintenance Sales order header. Selecting a particular order line triggers the procedure that performs the activity, such as creating receipt lines and/or outbound order lines, and so on. For more information, refer to Line Procedure
  • Work Control System
    All repair and maintenance activities performed at your own site are handled by means of work orders. These activities can include maintenance or repair jobs on both customer-owned items and items owned by your own company. Work orders for customer-owned items can be triggered by a Maintenance Sales order, which is described in the previous list item.
  • Service Order Control
    After you release a service order, LN issues the serialized component items required to carry out the activities described on the service order by means of outbound order lines of the Service origin.

When the item and the components are issued for work orders or service orders, the serial numbers are, either automatically or manually, registered for the issued items.