Inventory management isn’t something many professionals enjoy thinking about, even those who work in the field. That’s one of the primary reasons it’s helpful to implement best practices that are proven to streamline inventory management processes. Making an otherwise cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating process simpler and more efficient will save you many headaches, keep your workforce on-task and business processes flowing, and even boost the company bottom line.
Inventory management isn’t something that’s limited to warehouses. Even manufacturing businesses benefit from sound inventory management for maintenance, repair, and operations equipment. Here are a few best practices for inventory management that apply to every business.
Proper Asset Categorization Lays the Foundation
The first step in effective inventory management is to properly categorize your company’s assets. Defining moveable versus fixed assets is a broad categorization, but you should also categorize assets based on a system that makes sense for your company, whether that means categorizing assets by use case, by department, value, or some other metric. Storing all of this information in a central asset database is the key to maintaining precise control over your inventory, quickly finding the information needed, and analyzing the data collected to further optimize your inventory processes.
Automate, Automate, Automate
Inventory management becomes a huge (and unnecessary) headache without automation. Asset tracking systems completely streamline inventory management processes, simplify documentation, and maintain accuracy beyond what’s achievable through manual inventory control processes. Not to mention, it’s a huge time-saver. Businesses utilizing automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) asset tracking processes are able to reduce the frequency of manual inventory counts and save substantial man hours. Handheld barcode scanners are an excellent tool for fully automating data collection for inventory control, allowing staff to quickly scan supplies, parts, and equipment to maintain accuracy in your central database.
Simplify Re-Ordering Processes
Another advantage of using asset tags and AIDC for tracking inventory is the ability to simplify re-ordering processes. There are a variety of asset tags available for different applications, including two-part asset labels, which offer duplicate identification numbers for accurate record-keeping and simple re-ordering. Ordering can also be streamlined when vendor information is stored in an asset or inventory management software application. In any case, take advantage of the technology available and save your staff time by making it simple to order the supplies and equipment needed to keep business processes flowing smoothly.
Reduce Repair-Cycle Times
The goal of any organization is to produce products or services at the lowest possible cost in the shortest time possible. It’s easy to get off-track in achieving this goal when essential equipment breaks down and you’re not prepared with the parts necessary to get it back in working order. Delays from parts suppliers only further complicate the issue, and backordered parts can spell disaster. Through asset management and inventory control, you can forecast the typical lifespan for both parts and equipment, allowing you to be prepared for maintenance and repairs before they ever occur. The result is minimized downtime and a continuous workflow.
Maintain Minimal Stock Levels
While it may seem contradictory to the best practice of reducing repair-cycle times discussed above, it’s also not efficient to maintain too much inventory. Excess inventory adds to overhead and creates a shortage of storage space, which could be used for a more immediate need. With asset tracking, however, forecasting is more accurate and your data will demonstrate which supplies, parts, and equipment you should prioritize and precisely how much stock you should have on hand. Asset tracking also enables organizations to optimize facility layouts to store the most frequently used supplies in convenient areas, with rarely used equipment, parts, and supplies stored in harder-to-access areas.
Inventory management is a critical business process, but it doesn’t have to consume substantial time or resources. By implementing sound asset tracking systems with automatic identification and data capture, inventory control can become a streamlined, straightforward process that actually improves business efficiency company-wide. These best practices will help you gain complete control over inventory and reap maximum benefits.