SOLUTIONS

Improving Efficiency in Inventory Management

Challenge

For most companies, knowing accurately their real inventory is a vital part of preparing their balance sheet, preventing lost business opportunities and managing the correct level of SKU’s (stock keeping units), etc.

Updating inventory quantities on the host system in real time is being increasingly automated, but the reality of confirming the actual on hand stock through regular inventory-taking is still often conducted manually. This involves checking the quantities of each type of item, recording the data for each item, and reconciling this new checked data with expected inventory quantities on the system. This process can take an immense amount of time and labor and is a major burden for companies.

Additionally when conducting a physical inventory check, it takes a considerable amount of work to confirm all the data and ensure that the process of data collection is run efficiently and with minimum errors. Moreover whilst the inventory check is in operation, all other work processes must stop and staff re-assigned to the check in order to finish as quickly as possible, so the issue is not only the cost impact on resources but also the potential lost business opportunities.

Solution

The solution of course is to try to automate as much as possible. Today we can automatically track the movement of good using technologies like RFID but this solution is not applicable to all but a few company situations. So we have to be creative and create automations that will fit with the needs of the situation.

Here is a Scenario

Today using company is using a manual inventory check operation, stock lists are first printed and then assigned to individual workers to check and record the actual stock. The workers note the stocks next to the items on the list. Once the data has been gathered an operator must enter the data on the system. This manual process leaves many openings for errors to appear making the data not as reliable as it could be.

  • This can be improved by adding some automation to the process.
  • Using a data terminal to scan barcodes at each location.
  • Scan the product barcode at that location.
  • Enter the quantity counted.
  • The mobile printer prints a checked label that is applied to the location with the counted data and date.
  • The data terminal updates the Host system with the location, product and counted data.

Customer's Benefits

This gives a number of advantages to the inventory check.

  1. Most data is entered automatically* and removes the many manual steps from the process.
  2. The label on the location not only is a physical reminder of the quantity counted but is a visible proof that this location has been checked (eliminates double counting)
  3. The label also enable smaller snapshot check to be done on product lines or location sections making it easier to track inventory control performance
  4. The system does not require the very heavy capital investment need for some real time systems.
  5. Workers do not need extensive training to be able to be valuable, efficient contributors to the check process.

*Linking the handy terminal to an inventory management system allows the updated information to be incorporated into the system in real time.