Shelf Life Program

  • Improper implementation or lack of a shelf life program is often costlier in terms of item disposal than the cost of the maintaining a proper shelf life program
  • As with the advent of most functions, the shelf life program should  be developed, implemented, monitored, evaluated, and continuously improved
  • The shelf life program shall be administered as part of logistics
  • Quality control shall monitor the shelf life program to assure reliability and accountability for all items maintained under the program
  • Training should be provided to all personnel involved in the shelf life program.

Inventory Control Point (ICP) Personnel:

An ICP will be responsible for managing the day to day aspects of the shelf life program. Responsibilities include:

  • Review Incoming items For Code Accuracy
  • Prepare/Maintain Storage Standards
  • Establish Inspect/Test Criteria
  • Determine Support Alternatives
  • Reduce Buy Quantities
  • Process Requisitions and Returns
  • Respond to Shelf Life Discrepancy Reports (SDRs)
  • Reduce Price/Free Issue on Condition Codes B/C
  • Provide Disposition Instructions for Condition Codes H/J/L (Codes and Conditions are explained later in this module)

Shelf Life – The NASA Approach

  • NASA follows the guidance of CFR41 “Federal Property Management Regulations” Subtitle C
  • Categories: Items are classified as Type I (non-extendable) or Type II (extendable)
  • Codes: All shelf items shall be identified by a one digit alpha-numeric indicator that is uniform to all federal agencies
  • Code designations are valid for items with shelf life up to 60 months. These codes which are shown below can be found in the Federal Property Management Regulations subtitle C, subpart 101-27.205


Shelf-life period (months) Type I item code Type II item code
1 A  
2 B  
3 C 1
4 D  
45 E  
6 F 2
9 G 3
12 H 4
15 J  
18 K 5
21 L  
24 M 6
24 N  
27 P  
30 Q 7
48 R 8
60 S 9

Table: Federal Property Management Regulations subtitle C

  • Code 0 identifies items not included in the shelf life program
  • “Code X is used to identify critical end-use items, military-essential items, and medical items with a shelf life greater than 60 months. A critical end-use item is any item that is essential to the preservation of life in emergencies or any item essential to the performance of a major system.”6
  • Requirements:
    • Procurement: Centers shall determine proper methods such as inspections and standard industry practice in determining the shelf life of an item
    • Identification: Items (or systems) shall have a manufactured date
    • Shipping: Items (or systems) shall be shipped within a certain date range (which can vary) based upon the shelf life
    • Packaging: Items (or systems) shall be packaged in a manner to extend shelf life to the maximum extent possible
    • Controls and Inspection: NASA centers shall establish controls to identify shelf-life items on supply system records and, where applicable, on related storage locations and locator records. These items must be stored in such a manner to ensure a first in first out (FIFO) queue, except where not feasible
    • Controls and Inspection: Type II items valued over $300 and that has relatively low test and inspection costs versus the procurement cost of the item, shall be inspected to determine if shelf life extension applies. Shelf life extension shall not exceed 50% of the original shelf life. This inspection shall be documented
    • Marking:  For extensions on Type II bulk items, only the exterior packaging shall be marked. This only applies to non-critical items
    • Marking: A label indicating inspection or reinspection shall be affixed to the item during shipping for all items that have a critical end-use
    • Inventory Analysis: Periodic inventory analysis of shelf-life items shall be conducted to determine whether quantities on hand appropriately meet expected demand within the shelf life period of each item. Type I shelf-life shall be disposed of according to governing procedures
    • Inventory Analysis: For Type II items, inventory analysis shall follow the schedule shown below:
      • If the inventory analysis concludes that the shelf life item will be used within its shelf life period, then no inspection is required
      • Items that will not be used shall be returned to the supplier, if possible
      • Items not used shall be properly disposed of
        Shelf Life Period Date of Analysis (prior to expiration)
        48 to 60 months 12 to 16 months
        36 to 48 months 8 to 12 months
        18 to 36 months 6 to 8 months
        12 to 18 months 4 to 6 months
        6 to 12 months 3 to 4 months
        Up to 6 months Not required

Shelf Life – Storage and Inventory

  • Storage requirements and inventory levels serve a different purpose than shelf life
    • Example Storage requirements:
      • Determine amount of space required to house some inventory level
      • Determine environmental conditions associated with maintaining inventory
    • Example Inventory Level Requirements
      • Determine yearly inventory turnover for production purposes
      • Determine inventory reduction rate to determine order times and quantities to ensure inventory demand is met

Shelf Life - HAZMAT

  • Some items that are being maintained may be classified as Hazardous Material (HAZMAT). These such items are handled differently in terms of maintaining and controlling their shelf life
    • HAZMAT should be reduced or replaced as the item is no longer needed or new technology has resulted in an item that no longer contains HAZMAT properties. Assuming replacement is not cost prohibitive, replacement should occur in a timely manner regardless of remaining shelf-life
    • HAZMAT materials may also incur additional disposal costs, therefore, this cost should be a factor while determining if replacement of the HAZMAT material is cost prohibitive

Shelf Life Extension - Exceptions

  • Extensions to shelf life can be granted for Type II items
  • Exceptions may be made in which an item's shelf life may be extending without proper verification of the item itself. Two typical reasons this may occur are listed below:
    • Inspection and Test my be prohibitive for items of large quantities
    • Items may be in storage and not readily or easily accessible
  • The following criteria must be met in order to be applicable for these reasons of exceptions listed above:
    • Random Sampling:
      • An item or items of the same lot/batch number, contract number or NSN has been sampled and successfully passed inspection or test
    • Preservation:
      • An item with the same identification is on the quality status list (QSL – see definitions in the appendix) and has been preserved, shipped, and stored under conditions as specified by the materiel's managing ICP

Shelf Life Program – Common Sense

Common Sense Shelf Life Management

  • Only buy amount needed... Match unit-of-issue with quantity needed to complete the actual requirements.
  • Minimize storage... Consume oldest material first... Use direct vendor delivery to fill immediate replenishment.
  • Extend life of good material... Visually inspect six months before inspection data/check QSL for lab. Test extension.
  • Report receipt of expired material... Supply discrepancy report (SDR) identifies problem to ICP... Provides credit, corrective action, clean up system stock, stops overbuying.
  • Superstition and misconceptions-Get training!
  • Place Shelf Life in your budget.