A New Perspective on Inventory Management
Inventory management can feel like a constant game of cat and mouse—chasing after ever-changing demand while trying to balance stock levels. Meanwhile, you must squeeze every last drop of productivity out of understaffed teams to stay on budget.
As revealed in the RFgen Digital Inventory Report, a major challenge in inventory management is having too many challenges. Accuracy, procurement, staffing, quality, efficiency, costs—you name it.
But what if these challenges could be transformed into opportunities? If that sounds hard to believe, you may be delighted to learn that companies across the world have been leveraging the power of software automation to do exactly that.
How? Let’s find out.
Understanding the Top Inventory Management Challenges
It’s no secret that managing inventory is fraught with challenges. In this delicate balancing act, one wrong move means lost productivity and revenue. Every challenge impacts the bottom line. That’s why effective stock control remains a crucial aspect of supply chain management.
Before we talk about solutions and opportunities, let’s take a moment to outline the most common inventory challenges. Respondents of the RFgen Digital Inventory Report indicate that the top inventory challenges are:
- Overstock and Understock: Maintaining optimal stock levels requires constant effort. Hold too much and it cuts into overhead. Hold too little and you risk disruptive stockouts.
- Inventory Accuracy: Without accurate data, your teams waste time searching for nonexistent items. Meanwhile, other personnel must invest considerable time in compensating for errors.
- Inventory Traceability: Tracking materials at a granular level requires sufficient technology support—which many operations lack. For manufacturing, this can be extra difficult as raw materials “disappear” into finished goods.
- Inefficient Processes: Time is money, and inefficient inventory processes soak up valuable productivity. This can be due to a lack of proper organization, outdated processes, or inadequate technology.
- Mispicks and Misships: Inadequate picking methodologies—especially manual processes—aggravate on-time deliveries, production schedules, and customer service. A common “slow zone” in the warehouse.
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Software to the Rescue: Innovative Solutions for Inventory Challenges
Instead of viewing these challenges as setbacks, innovative software solutions offer a new perspective: seeing them as opportunities for improvement and growth.
Modern inventory software solutions not only address the challenges above (and more), they can transform blockages into value creation. Here’s how:
- Automating manual processes
- Enhancing visibility and agility
- Improving ordering and replenishment
- Providing reliable demand forecasting
- Tracking inventory in real time
- Perfecting picking accuracy (99.9%+)
To name a few. Even though new warehouse software may require an initial investment, the efficiencies gained quickly pay off, providing a return on investment, better known as ROI. From there on, the new technology adds value to your business, enabling growth and scalability.
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How to Transform Inventory Challenges into Opportunities
After exploring the challenges and benefits, we finally arrive at the big question: How can software turn inventory challenges into opportunities?
Returning to our list of challenges, let’s see how the right inventory management system or solution directly impacts our 5 problem areas:
Overstock and Understock
Mobile inventory management software can automate the process of tracking stock levels. Using complementary systems, like ERP software, AI, and other algorithmic tools, organizations can predict future demand based on historical data and current trends. Automation of replenishment thresholds and re-ordering tasks help ensure stock levels are always optimal.
Software solutions can provide real-time updates on inventory levels, reducing the likelihood of errors. Barcode scanning and RFID technologies can be used to track items accurately, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the time spent searching for items. Automated data collection from multiple sources, including IoT, carousels, and scales, contribute to a holistic inventory snapshot at any given time.
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Advanced mobile solutions can also automate track-and-trace. As workers scan barcodes, multiple dimensions of data are captured instantly and recorded in the ERP or system of record, including Country of Origin (COO), GTIN, lot, serial number, and batch. For manufacturers, raw materials and components don’t disappear as they are consumed during intermediate stages of production or once they become finished goods.
Automation software offers a powerful means of breaking down operational chokepoints and eliminating unnecessary manual work. Automating even basic tasks like order receipts or work order completion quickly improves efficiency and productivity by 30% or more. When it comes to warehouse optimization, relying on smart, innovative software solutions is hard to beat.
Mispicks and Misships
Issues in picking and shipping often arise from human error. Implementing solutions like mobile barcoding automates data collection. This makes picking the wrong item for an order nearly impossible. Misshipments fall off the map due to built-in validation steps in the mobile software. Both company and customers benefit.
Transforming Challenges into Opportunities: A Case Study
But enough about theory. Let’s dive into a real-life example of overcoming the challenges of inventory management with advanced software tools—in this case, mobile software.
Schwing America Achieves World-Class Picking Accuracy
Construction machine manufacturer Schwing America struggled with inefficient processes and aging barcode software. In a bid to support critical daily operations, the company implemented RFgen’s mobile barcoding solution, an advanced mobile platform built for flexibility and scalability.
This state-of-the-art software quickly generated big benefits, turning multiple challenges into business growth opportunities:
- 99.8% picking accuracy
- 42% increased picking efficiency
- Enhanced worker productivity
- Automatic cycle counts
- In-house mobile app development
Read the full story or watch the video below:
Embracing the Future of Inventory Management
At the end of the day, the challenges of inventory management are realities every organization must face. But challenges don’t have to hold you back from growth and profitability. Addressing the major challenges in inventory management with cutting-edge software solutions is a proven means to streamline supply chain operations.
You will want to carefully evaluate the best inventory management software for your organization. Regardless of what route you take, from mobile barcoding to WMS software, don’t let challenges keep you up at night. Adjust your perspective. Embrace challenges as opportunities to improve efficiency, increase profits, and keep customers coming back for more.