Five Essential Pillars to a Reliable Inventory Management System

Paper-based systems have long been seen as a cost-effective and simple way to track inventory levels.  However, when operating in fast-paced environments such as food service and convenience distribution, manually tracking inventory can be very costly.  Outdated and misplaced inventory can result in $100’s of thousands of dollars of lost profits.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), improper tracking and inventory handling has led to 133 billion pounds of food going to waste, costing supply chains as much as $162 billion. As demand increases over the years, that number is expected to rise. Paper and pencil systems share inventory tracking pitfalls including:

  • Failing to maintain accurate inventory quantities
  • Failing to make needed inventory adjustments
  • Failing to properly account for outdated and damaged product
  • Incorrect forecasting for peak seasons

Though simplistic to implement, paper and pencil systems frequently fail to catch and alert companies about unnecessary losses.   Bad data is the root cause of thousands of dollars of lost profits.  Product and labor shortages are challenging companies to keep up with customer demands for inventory.   Businesses are turning to automated systems to meet these challenges and remain competitive.

When implementing inventory management software solutions, adaptability should be kept in mind to deal with future changes such as fluctuating workforce, changes in sales volumes, and growth for new products.  No matter what solution you choose, the following basic components should be considered:

1. Enterprise Data Capture – As the direct replacement to manual systems, automated data capture is crucial to enabling quick updates and minimized errors. When choosing equipment, consider…

  • Ergonomics to certify devices are used properly.
  • Many modern enterprise tools can maximize user-comfort by combining scanning with mobile computing, eliminating the need for multiple devices. Durability standards since not every device may be fit for stringent environments such as cold storage or outdoor use.
  • Extended equipment warranties allow for confidence in the equipment and avoid unplanned expenses for expensive repairs.

2. Real-time data sharing – A dependable wireless network supports your solution by eliminating dead zones and keeping your teams connected to vital data anywhere in the four walls.

3. Implement intelligent warehousing software that can help your teams locate, move, store, and prep inventory accurately by guiding teams via a digital interface connected to their scanner. Software solutions should be proven to be effective in your industry.  Check references.

  • Software solutions should be easy to implement and easy for users to learn.
  • Software solutions should be able to estimate the return warehouses will get from the investment in technology.
  • Software solutions should be able to provide extensive management reporting that will support decision making.

4. Durable Identification Labels – While labels account for less than 1% of your operating costs, they help secure your inventory’s quality within the supply chain. That’s why businesses should choose quality labels that match application and storage requirements. Be certain your labels will be effective and have:

5. High-Volume Printer – Lastly, your printer should be built to handle throughput rates, with faster printing speeds and easy media loading to prevent long wait times and bottlenecks. For even more adaptability, consider integrating mobile printers to deliver labels anywhere within your workflows, cutting travel time and bottlenecks around printing stations. Printers like the ZQ630 are lightweight and compact, enabling fast printing in storefronts and in distribution centers alike with ease.

How to Get Started

Before upgrading hardware and deploying new software, automation experts recommend assessing your current workflows to create a scalable automation plan that leverages your current successes while targeting hidden struggles. With a clear picture of your operations in mind, specialists can then link pain points to adaptable technologies and systems that improve operational visibility without compromising on budgetary constraints. For more information on how to automate your inventory management system, contact ProCat Distribution Technology, The experts in distribution center software solutions.

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