Barcodes and mobile technology are helping inventory management to constantly evolve. From incorporating barcodes on hospital pathology to using tablets to track products, inventory management can become surprisingly efficient when done appropriately. Keep your inventory up to date and save your company money by avoiding these 5 inventory mistakes.
Mistake #1: You Completely Rely on Automation
If you had the opportunity to improve only one feature of your warehouse due to budget, we would recommend that you implement an inventory tracking system. However, you should always take the numbers with a grain of salt. While an inventory tracking system is much more efficient than shutting down your entire warehouse and conducting a manual count, you should revisit the old-fashioned method to double check. We recommend that you routinely, either daily or weekly, select a small section of your warehouse and hand-count those items. Compare the number from your manual inventory with inventory levels in the computer to see if there are any discrepancies. You may discover that an imbalance has happened due to theft, damage, or improper tracking.
Mistake #2: No Key Performance Indicators
How can you check how your company is doing when you have nothing to compare it to? Some of the main key performance indicators you should keep track of are inventory turn rate and fill rate. Employees should measure fill rate on a daily basis, and inventory managers should work to improve these rates. Knowing how fast inventory turns over is extremely helpful when forecasting future orders. When your inventory manager knows how long it takes for the inventory to move through the value-creation-and-delivery system, you’ll be better equipped to manage inventory levels. Also take into consideration that not all inventory should be treated equally. The amount of widget X you should keep on hand may not necessarily be the same as widget Y.
Mistake #3: Improper Training
Inventory is one of the most expensive assets a company possesses. With this in mind, you should take the time and effort to teach your employees how to properly use the system that you implemented. It’s crucial for them to understand how to use the devices so they not only track the information correctly but do so in a timely manner. If you don’t have the resources to spend a lot of time training employees, design your barcoding system around that. Take the guessing game out of how devices work by adopting technology that your staff is already familiar with. Mobile computer scanners run on an Android or Windows operating system, which will give them almost the same user experience as the mobile devices they play with on break. Just because mobile computers are more user-friendly doesn’t mean that they don’t pull their own weight in the warehouse. Many models are designed to withstand the wear and tear of industrial situations and can scan a barcode from any angle.
Mistake #4: Disorganized Warehouse
When you picture a disorganized warehouse, you may think of boxes thrown into a pile in no particular order and products spilling into the aisles. But your warehouse isn’t like that. Your boxes are perfectly aligned on shelves, each labeled with barcodes you scan into your inventory management software system.
You may be surprised to know that your picture perfect warehouse isn’t as organized as you think. Reorganizing will increase the employee productivity and data accuracy. When you organize your inventory by pick type, for example, it can cut down on picking and reslotting time. Another trick is to place very popular products close to loading bays because they need to be picked up more often. If you find that you’re not frequently fetching for an item, put it on a higher shelf. Many scanners have the ability to read barcodes from a far distance. Can’t think of anything to change? Have a senior executive walk the floor. Because he is unfamiliar with the processes, he’s more likely to spot bottlenecks in the chain that daily employees have simply accepted as fact.
Mistake #5: Lack of Communication
Improper communication causes chaos. We’re talking about employees in your warehouse, in your offices, and throughout your supply chain. Has a promotion ever caught you buy surprise, leaving dozens of orders unfulfilled because you weren’t expecting a surge in demand? Although your inventory management software is great for forecasting, you should never solely rely on it for ordering. Make sure to implement face-to-face meetings to catch employees up to speed on new offers and sales.
Looking for a way to improve your inventory tracking system? Contact Barcode Direct today to set up your custom inventory solution!