The Right Tools for Mobile Inventory Management Reduce Operational Costs
Investing in tools for mobile inventory management may not be first on the wish list for warehouse operators. However, increasing inventory visibility can streamline processes, decrease operational costs, improve labor retention, and contribute to better customer experiences.
Additionally, businesses that utilize mobility solutions for warehouse inventory applications are better prepared when supply chain disruptions occur. With improved inventory tracking and traceability, they can keep a closer eye on stock levels, avoiding stockouts and meeting consumer demand even in a fast-paced, competitive environment.
Manual Processes Bog Warehouses Down
According to a recent survey, human error from manual process management is the top cause of inventory fulfillment issues. These inventory errors bog warehouse fulfillment processes down with rework waste and motion waste, increasing labor expenses and causing dissatisfied customers to take their business elsewhere.
Mobile Inventory Management Solutions Create a Bridge Toward Automation
Warehouse automation does not have to elicit dystopian images of the completely dark warehouse. As a matter of fact, most operators believe that the optimum balance in warehousing includes human interaction.
In a recent blog post in DC Velocity, warehouse automation was described as, “a choreographing of tasks and information so they flow to the right person at the right time, and they can play their part with perfection.” The author emphasized that prioritizing simplification of processes often has the biggest payoff.
Mobilizing inventory visibility simplifies the receiving and cycle count processes, and it provides workers with the tools they need to “play their part with perfection” when it comes to accurate data entry and record-keeping. It eliminates the need to travel from receiving or fulfillment areas to fixed workstations, taking warehouse management and inventory control software, scanners, and label printers right to the point of task.
What are Some of the Most Effective Tools for Mobilizing Inventory Visibility?
- The most comprehensive solution for automating inventory visibility
- Palletized items can be tracked without being removed from packaging
- Prohibitively expensive to implement throughout warehouse
- Tag use must be consistent across suppliers
The most effective solutions for mobile inventory management eliminate wasted travel time and errors. Implementing an RFID system in the warehouse may support the most efficient processes possible, with automated inventory tracking at shipping and receiving, along with inventory audits. As long as products are within range of or passing through an RFID reader or gateway, they are visible and tracked.
RFID Systems are Expensive to Implement
RFID readers and gateways have a limited sensing range, and therefore need to be installed at regular intervals. This can get expensive very quickly, especially considering the average warehouse is 181,370 square feet, and they are getting bigger every year.
Mobilizing RFID Readers May Reduce Implementation Costs
RFID reader carts mobilize the use of RFID scanners and can reduce the number of readers or gateways required for effective inventory visibility. Rather than keeping stationary gateways at shorter intervals throughout the warehouse, RFID reader carts allow workers to significantly reduce cycle count time by bringing automated inventory management to the hard-to-reach or far-end areas of the warehouse. Just keep in mind that anything outside of range will not be automatically tracked.
Handheld Barcode Scanners and Mobile Computers
- Less expensive than RFID
- Versatile and compatible with most supplier labeling systems
- Maintenance costs can be high due to additional backup scanners
- Need to recharge causes operational delays
Handheld barcode scanners and mobile computers that integrate with warehouse and inventory management systems are the most popular choice for automating inventory management. They offer nimble scanning and record-keeping, and they are becoming an essential element of effective supply chain management.
The Challenge of Managing Handheld Devices
Handheld barcode scanners and mobile computers are easy to misplace or forget about when traveling from one location to another. Workers may put the device down, walk away, and only realize they left it somewhere once they get to the location of their next task across the warehouse.
Additionally, most businesses purchase extra devices so operations don’t have to slow down or come to a halt every time a scanner needs to recharge. This results in elevated IT and maintenance costs, as well as unnecessary spending on devices that wouldn’t otherwise be required.
Mobility Solutions Mitigate the Cons of Handheld Scanners
Deploying a fleet of battery-powered mobile workstations helps warehouses reduce motion waste resulting from workers misplacing or forgetting their scanners. Employees use mobile workstations to transport and power all their tools wherever they go, so they have what they need at the point of task—and a designated place to put things down when they aren’t using them.
Mobile computer workstations can also reduce the number of scanning devices needed to get through the day. Some estimates indicate that three times more scanners are needed when stationary charging docks are the only option. However, when workers can place their device on a battery-powered workstation to charge between tasks, scanners stay charged, reducing the number of devices needed for a shift.
Benefits of Mobilizing Inventory Visibility
Mobilizing inventory visibility leads to a more productive warehouse, a higher rate of inventory count accuracy, swifter order fulfillment, and an improved ability to meet customer demands. It serves as a bridge toward automation, incorporating existing infrastructure and available labor to maximize efficiency and simplify processes.
To discover the tools that can help your warehouse stay competitive by bringing inventory management tools to the point of task, contact us today!