Shelf Life Control Tutorial

Primary tabs

Step 1 of 8


What is Shelf Life?

  • "Total period of time beginning with date of manufacture, cure, assembly, pack, or after inspection or test that an item may remain in the combined wholesale/retail storage systems and remain suitable for issue to and/or consumption by the end user." 1
  • Controlling the shelf life of products is necessary for financial and regulatory reasons
    • Overstocking products leads to excess wastes and costs
    • Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) products may require the maintenance and disposal in accordance with (IAW) the Federal Code of Regulations (CFR41) (All agencies except for the DoD fall under Federal Code of Regulation (CFR41) and management of shelf life is required by law).

Shelf life items are:

  • "A shelf-life item is any item possessing deteriorative or unstable characteristics to the degree that a storage period must be assigned to assure the issuance of material that will perform satisfactorily in service" 3
  • Shelf life can also apply to a system or subsystem, i.e. the prime contractor's end product. Analysis should be completed to identify the "key performance parameter" that dictates the extent of shelf life control and associated parameters such as maintenance and inspection schedules,

What Shelf Life is NOT:

  • Shelf Life is not Service Life
    • Service Life is the expected life of an item after it has been opened, installed or transition into service/operations
  • Shelf Life is not Inventory Control
    • Inventory Control is a broad field that maintains appropriate supply of products against the product demand. Activities include quantity calculations, cost minimization, scheduling, and possibly product selection

What is Shelf Life Control?

  • Controlling Shelf Life is the management/tasks of assuring items are suitable for use
  • Establishing, maintaining, and executing a shelf life control program is a function that is performed by logistics personnel
  • There are two types of classification for shelf life items:
    • Type I: These items have a definite end/expiration date. These items are not extendable 1
    • Type II: These items are inspected and may have their shelf life date extended 1
  • Alphanumeric codes classify items in detail and will be discussed further in this module
  • NASA follows the approach as described above. This approach is consistent with the code of federal regulations (CFR) 41.
  • Shelf life control is performed during the entire life-cycle of the program. (See the System Engineering Module for further description on the life-cycle mentality).
  • Department of Defense (DoD) 4140.1-R "DoD Supply Chain Material Management Regulation" Appendix C "Charter For The DoD Shelf-Life Board" states that NASA shall provide adequate representation to assist in the development, monitoring, evaluation, and support for the shelf-life program. The NASA representative shall act as the focal point for all shelf-life functions. 4 This board consisting of DoD, GSA, FAA, USCG, and NASA members shall enhance the logistical function of shelf life control.
  • Particular items may contain HAZMAT. These items need to be identified and should be given priority over non-HAZMAT items. HAZMAT items can be of either Type I or Type II 5

More information on Shelf life control including training can be found at the following site:

Note: Shelf Life control is also required by the AS9100 standard as dictated in section 7.5.5 of revision B.