Regulatory changes can have a big impact on the way companies operate. If businesses aren't prepared to control their inventory with the help of software and digital tools, they're going to have a greater number of hurdles to overcome when a recall or similar issue occurs.
For example, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently signed legislation that makes it illegal for businesses to sell products containing the common ingredient triclosan in the state, explained CNN. The bill will start being enforced in 2017, after which companies that sell cosmetics, oral health care, body wash and antibacterial products will no longer be able to offer items containing the chemical to the public. However, products that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will still be allowed for sale.
Fighting for Consumer Wellness
Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported triclosan has been in consumer goods for the past 30 years, and a study performed by the government agency indicated the ingredient was found in 75 percent of individuals participating in the project. The Los Angeles Times wrote research performed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed lab animals exposed to triclosan experienced changes in hormone levels, and the ingredient may foster the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
On the other hand, the FDA said antibacterial products containing triclosan haven't shown they perform better than traditional soap, explained The LA Times. As a result of these findings, several large manufacturers have decided to remove triclosan from their products. Proctor & Gamble will do so by the end of 2014 and has gotten a head start by making its Crest oral care items triclosan-free. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson announced it will eliminate the ingredient by 2015, The Times wrote. While most experts agree that more research is needed to clearly understand the effects of triclosan, businesses and governments aren't taking a risk with consumers' health.
When this situation arises, manufacturers need to be ready. Investing in automated data collection software can save companies a significant amount of time and reduce the number of errors that can amass through manual processes.
What a Difference Automation Can Make
For example, the wellness company Melaleuca had depended on a manual system for inventory control prior to working with RFgen. Working with paper-based processing for transactions and record-keeping, the wellness company faced a widening gap between what their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP system reflected in terms of inventory and the numbers shown in its warehouse. Additionally, a manual process made it increasingly difficult to anticipate orders and maintain a production schedule that would meet consumer demands. Because RFgen's mobile data collection software seamlessly integrates with most back-end ERP systems, businesses can maximize the use of barcoding technology to manage database and data collection systems.
After integrating RFgen's JDE enterprise mobility platform, the company achieved more accurate control over its supply chain and improved efficiency. Error rates dropped and inventory is now managed with dexterity. Melaleuca is able to predict its production needs with more precision, thereby providing customers with better service and satisfaction.
At the same time, an automated inventory management system establishes a solid framework that allows companies to respond with greater flexibility in the face of legislative changes. For instance, businesses impacted by the Minnesota ban on triclosan in production of their merchandise will be in a much better position to forecast output. The legislation will likely push manufacturers to alter their supply chain and distribution channels, which is a probable reason for the delayed enforcement of the ban. However, companies can get ahead more quickly if they invest in the right technology.