How do you keep track of your inventory? Do you at times experience incidences of lost or assets that go unaccounted for? How much does your firm lose in a month or year due to improper inventory management? Have you ever thought of a permanent solution to this and many other management-related problems? OK, you will be elated to know that the fast paced 21st century technology has provided an innovative and efficient solution to your inventory woes. This is in the form of inventory or warehouse softwares coupled with RF-ID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags or barcodes for smaller assets. The dynamics of inventory management have so much changed that it is now possible to reduce warehouse or storage losses up to almost 0% with proper application of these softwares. What’s even more enthralling and encouraging is the fact that you don’t have to be software or computer guru to be in a position to enjoy the benefits attached to this modern outlook. Simply, a basic computer knowledge with some accounting background is enough to pull this off.
The inventory management software system is composed of a central software or program that is typically installed on a main or master computer. The purpose of this software is to monitor all the operations as communicated via the RFID devices and most importantly calculate and publish the stock levels. The software is linked to the various assets under supervision through the use of RFID technology /wireless communications system or entered systematically using barcode readers. With this cohesive assembly in place, the following features are realized;
1.) Order levels management: You no longer have to overstock unknowingly or go through the process of counting fast-moving consumer products one at a time during stock keeping. The software prompts the user in entering an exact figure based on the desired stock level, and then proceeds to alert them when this order is exceeded or goes below the minimum thresh-hold. In this way, the warehouse supervisors can keep accurate records of the stock/assets present and effectively implement the First In First Out(FIFO) policy.
2.) Asset tracking and management: With this inventive technology, cases of lost or unaccounted-for assets are highly eliminated through application of RFID or wireless tags. In this scenario, each asset is assigned a unique serial number, which is stored in the computer database. The software then monitors the location and position of these assets via the tags. In the event of consumables or fast moving products then bar-codes are utilized. Each time an item is required to be moved out of the warehouse, a scan is made, and the item is removed from the ‘stocks present’ category.
3.) Service management and product identification: This is particularly helpful to firms that are more service-oriented. The sales and marketing team are often required to keep track of the exact quantity of consumables used in the service delivery process, in order to correctly calculate the price to be attached to their services. By using barcodes to identify the quantity of stock present, the feature could be extended to enable exact product identification for even more accurate record keeping.
Having explored most of the general characteristics attributed to an RFID tracking and inventory software control system, one may wonder whether they are any benefits attached to investing in such a system. The numerous profits that one may reap, including:
1.) Increased cost and expense savings: When a firm knows how much exactly to order, the amount of lost or damaged stocks caused by overstocking is considerably reduced. A shrewd supervisor can also use this to this firm’s advantage by placing timely and regular orders based on a definite lower threshold to attract discounted prices from the suppliers.
2.)Automation of the inventory process and added efficiency: Stock calculations, report publishing, and general record keeping don’t have to be done manually when using such a system. With the provision of a functional inventory software, this can be done with a touch a button at almost flawless precision.
3.)General warehouse and firm organization: With the application of the barcode method of entering items into a central database, the First In First Out policy can be easily implemented. This aids the store keepers in optimizing their storage facilities as contrasted with the traditional way of use Kanban boards. The RFID tags can also help manage the location of different types of products and which part of the warehouse they are stored in, helping in easy identification and accessibility. It is also possible to maximize the utilization of space within the warehouse through this software, by analyzing inventory levels and the length of storage of different consumables.
4.) Asset and data security: Since the system is usually password protected the chances of an untrustworthy employee altering the records or defrauding the company are kept minimum. The manager can also assign the inventory management process to an employee, speeding up the bookkeeping procedure, without having to worry about security system been undermined. The RFID tags can also be attached to merchandise been shipped, or even company fixed assets such as vehicles to monitor their location from a convenient central location. A redefinition to the dimensions of asset management.
5.) Enhancing accountability: Through the RFID and bar-code technology, a firm may keep track of where and when supplies were obtained from easily. This promotes accountability in the event of substandard products been delivered. Company drivers, under the new monitoring and supervisory system, are bound to ply only company-advised routes when making shipment to or from suppliers. The chances and incidences of common ‘disappearance’ of capital equipment are lessened with the integrative use of RFID tags in monitoring asset operation, status, and location.
The downside: The only real disadvantage attached to using this highly effective method of inventory control is the prohibitive price tag attached to the investment in such an electronic duo software system. This especially relevant to small and medium sized firms lacking considerable capital base. There is also the issue of the availability of relevant manpower to run and implement the system efficiently. The lack of qualified technical personnel for the maintenance and troubleshooting of problems, in the event of a system failure, can be a deterring factor especially in less developed countries.
All in all, this software based method of asset management has way many cons than pros in the long-run and is a recommendable investment to both start-up and well-established companies, looking to upgrade to modern trends.