26 September 2019
Your warehouses contain
the lifeblood of your business; your inventory. In an ideal world, the stock
you hold would move through your warehouse and be replenished seamlessly, with
no time to erode tight profit margins.
But managing inventory
can be a complex task, especially if you have multiple warehouses or branches
to stock. Procurement levels, lead times, seasonal demand, shifting stock costs
and market competition all make for difficult inventory and cash flow optimisation.
What every warehouse
needs is a way to achieve effective inventory management practices that cut
costs and boost profitability – in the form of rugged mobile computers.
The inventory replenishment problem
The perfect inventory
consists of enough stock to capitalise on fluctuating demand at any time,
without excess that could hang around costing your business money. It’s a very
fine line to tread, and there are many variable factors that complicate it further.
Unexpected delivery disruptions for your suppliers can lead to knock-on
stockouts and unhappy customers, while forecasted surges in demand can fail to
materialise and leave you with an expensive surplus you eventually have to
discount, increasing the risk of stock obsolescence.
Knowing when and how
much to replenish your inventory is key to achieving business growth. It’s not
easy though and it can be expensive; excess stock is said to cost a business an additional 25-50% a year.
Centralised vs decentralised
The issue is
compounded with each warehouse your business has. Whether stock is the same
across each site or not, each warehouse functions as a microcosm of your total
inventory. Multiple sites mean multiple local inventories, presenting a
business with a choice to make between centralised and decentralised inventory
management. Should each warehouse manage replenishment based on its own stock
movements, or should stock orders be generated by head office without input
from each location?
While there are pros
and cons of both approaches, decentralised inventory management arguably facilitates more accurate and
tailored stock control practices. Warehouse teams at each site can manage stock
levels to reflect and react to changes in demand in their own area - geographic
and/or remit-wise - whereby a centralised replenishment process can lack the
same agility. To achieve successful decentralised inventory management, each of
your warehouses must have a way to track their own stock levels meticulously
and in real time.
Rugged mobile devices enable optimum
inventory visibility is made possible through rugged mobile solutions; handhelds, tablets and vehicle-mounted
computers that enable each of your warehouse teams to register goods in and out
of a live digital inventory in seconds via barcode and/or RFID. Operational anywhere on the warehouse floor,
rugged mobile devices can display an item’s movement history at the tap of the
touchscreen, as well as providing an up-to-the-minute view of local inventory
at any time, helping to reduce surplus stock, free up space and reduce
But even though
decentralised inventory management via rugged mobile devices offers precise
stock control in each warehouse, it doesn’t mean the information is siloed.
Each device is connected to a central software infrastructure, feeding
up-to-date inventory data to and from head office and enabling access to vital
operational data to and from other sites. In the capable hands of your teams,
rugged mobile computers form a network of real-time stock level information
across your warehouses, so you can see both micro and macro inventories at a
glance. This visibility allows you to react quickly to unexpected challenges
and better predict surges and drops in demand, thanks to historical data.
Inventory is just one
area of warehouse and manufacturing management where rugged mobile devices can
boost efficiency and cut costs. Find out more by getting in touch with our expert team today.