There is an old saying that goes,”You can’t manage what you can’t track.” That saying is never truer than in the world of managing a warehouse. All that space is no good to you or your potential customers if you can’t find anything when the time comes. There are many ideas on how to do this effectively, but what I’m going to talk about today is how to manage inventory the most efficient way and to do it in real time. No more finding out about missing items days or weeks after it’s lost. In today’s world of warehousing, you can find out about a missing item almost as soon as it’s been reported missing. Basically, technology is great and allows for us to be more accurate than ever before.
The best thing that has happened in inventory management in the past 10 years is the invention of the tablet. In terms of managing inventory, it allows employees to have on them at all times a device where they can lookup, report, and find information they need as they need it. No longer is there a need to write something down, track down a computer station, and do whatever is needed to be done at that time. Everything can be pretty much instantaneous. When you are trying to manage inventory and keep things as tight as possible, a tablet is your best friend. We’ve had really good luck with the actual iPad itself, but there are new tablets coming out all the time that could work for whatever your needs may be.
Still, with all the technological advances we have in shipping and inventory management, the key to strong inventory management is having employees that are accountable. If your employees who are in charge of inventory aren’t held accountable when it comes to moving, finding, and shipping the inventory, then you will continue to have inventory problems. This doesn’t mean that employees are fired for misplacing an item, but it means is that nothing is touched in the warehouse without some sort of notation in your system that is made. Inventory will never be 100% accurate, but that doesn’t mean you don’t strive for that and hold employees accountable when mistakes are made.
The best practice that can be made into a habit when running a great warehouse is to be proactive in terms of your inventory. One thing we implemented years ago was when an item wasn’t picked for a period of time (whatever works for your inventory), then it makes a list and made sure it is still in the place it’s supposed to be. This goes a long ways in reducing lost inventory. When we started doing this, we reduced our error rate by about 20% because we would figure out something was missing and figure out the issue before we were up against a shipping deadline.
These are just a few things that you can do to take better control of your inventory than you were able to even 5 years ago. Technology is only going to help inventory management even more as time goes on, so just keep your ear to the ground and keep evolving.