Perishable Goods | Do You Know Your Expiration Dates?

Perishable Goods | Do You Know Your Expiration Dates?

Quartermaster’s are given a bit of a raw deal sometimes. They are forced to manage equipment that is sometimes purchased too late, or too early to be authorized for issue. They deal with late shipments, late suppliers, demanding purchasing departments, and a revolving door of equipment going in, and coming out of their office. Sure, it’s manageable. But not with any degree of comfort. And then the coup de grâce of asset manager lingers: perishable goods. As if juggling everyone else’s sense of timing and organization wasn’t enough, we have to throw items with expiration dates at our quartermasters, and expect them to manage these items, with everything else, efficiently. Meaning, without wasting any items. What can be done to manage this fine detail, so that it doesn’t ruin a quartermaster’s performance review, and your budget?

Your Software Plays a Role

We’ve been consistent on this point, and we continue to be: if your software is not capable of tracking the details of your operation, large and small, then it’s not worth the hassle. The cheapest software may be alluring, but guaranteed it doesn’t factor in all the types of information we’ve discussed previously. And it certainly doesn’t have consideration for expiration dates. Further, even the most expensive software doesn’t guarantee that it provides the most sophisticated view of your agency assets. Asking questions about what the software can do is important. When it comes to expiration dates, there can be no doubt that in choosing asset management software, it must factor in expiration dates. This feature allows for a variety functionality within asset management software that provides full-spectrum management capabilities to not only your quartermaster and their peers, but also to administrators, who are looking to make most with the little they are offered every budget cycle.

Expiration Date Data & Multiple Uses

The first, most obvious, and of course basic use of expiration date data is obvious. So that a quartermaster can issue the perishable items in a reasonable time to ensure a maximized use of the product. We’re talking about batteries, pepper spray, body armor, munitions of all kinds, plus another category of items that fit this need for recording are maintenance-oriented devices, such as Radar/LIDAR equipment, BAC machines, firearms, radios, and other equipment that needs routine maintenance and/or calibration.

However, while this serves the present-day mission, we must remember that purchasing is cyclical in nature, it’s not standardized. True, your agency may need to swap out handguns every five years, but the likelihood is that there is an ebb and flow to use over a variety of other products that have expiration, or “end of term” dates related to them. You may chew through 17,000 CR123 batteries one year, but the next year you’re only going through 8,900, but then the year after that you’re back up to 12,375. The point is that your asset management software should be tracking the use of items with end of term dates, no matter the type of date, and give you suggestions on the best ordering strategy for your agency needs.

Your asset management software should also be able to provide comparative analysis for all goods, but especially perishable types. By inputting expiration dates, and the software analyzing the issuance of such items, your software should be able to develop reports that provide information on the best quantities to order of perishable goods, to ensure that nothing is wasted on the shelf. While your agency may budget for 500 flashbang grenades, it may make sense after analyzing your workflow, that issuing five purchases orders for 100 flashbangs at a time, spread over the course of three years, makes more sense than ordering 500 all at once, because the likelihood of ten expiring prior to your next order is revealed through the analysis. Ask any vendor, ordering 500 in any format is still ordering 500, and while it shies away from the “big” order, it shouldn’t affect the price break you may be receiving. But more importantly, it ensures you’re not wasting good money to “get a better deal,” and that you’re honoring the commitment to total accountability that municipal leaders are charged with, and citizens admire more, than free shipping.

Another example still, involves “selling” product that is reaching your expiration “threshold.” Let’s say you have a product expiring in December 2019, and with it being October 2017, you know not all of it is going to be used by your department in that amount of time. If it’s a common item, like say batteries, it may have value to another municipal department in your area, even serving the same jurisdiction as you. For our purposes, let’s say the Water Department has a need for AA batteries, the same as you. You can afford to part with 500 right now, because you have a stockpile that is not going to get addressed, and you want to sell your excess sooner rather than later. You sell them to this department at cost, with the difference being transferred from next year’s budget cycle. True, in an intra-department scenario like this, from the outside it seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul, but what is really happening is that you are solving an asset problem for one department, and shoring up your budget for the next cycle. In this example, we’re talking small numbers. But, if your agency has stockpiles to manage, imagine repeating this scenario as many times as necessary to correct your asset storage? Being able to improve your budget outlook by several to tens of thousands of dollars, by following an efficiency pattern identified by your software makes it so you know your budget can afford the ebb and flow of a tax base, while ensuring your personnel are outfitted, and ready for whatever they encounter.


Software must work for you, all the time. If it’s not doing these things, and more, than it’s simply in the way. Municipal budgets can no longer afford to operate inefficiently, and neither can you. To accomplish today’s mission, efficiency in all aspects of your internal operation are required. This means venturing into new ways of thinking that have not been considered in public safety previously. And that means using software that puts your agency far ahead of the game, in both dollars, and sense.

Be safe out there!

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