Automated inventory management solutions can be crucial in helping companies improve accuracy and output. Businesses that manufacture or distribute controlled substances or products with exceptionally high demand need them to reduce inventory errors and keep things running smoothly. However, some decision-makers initially don’t want employees to use inventory management software.
Many people resist change and find it difficult to understand why doing things differently can bring great advantages. As a case in point, a 2020 survey found only 6% of respondents has a fully digitized production site. That could be because business leaders don’t always realize that automating parts of the workflow can be easier than they think.
Statistics suggest employees spending more than 30% of their working hours Document Review. However, that task is often easy to automate. People can usually enter the desired parameters into specialized software. The program flags responsible parties for further review if the digital document does not satisfy them.
Here’s a closer look at why today’s business leaders often choose products to help their company pursue automated inventory management.
Automated inventory management helps increase business competitiveness
Many different things can lead business leaders to try out automated inventory management tools. However, the desire to stay or become more competitive is often the focus of their intentions. A commitment to reducing inventory errors can have far-reaching and lasting effects.
Accuracy of inventory means minimizing the difference between the recorded amount and the actual amount. Many sources recommend that companies aim for inventory accuracy of at least 97%. Achieving a percentage more or less than that benchmark can have a corresponding effect on profitability. However, the effects don’t end there.
Consider whether a company makes a large inventory tracking mistake that causes customers to wait weeks for delivery as they get used to receiving goods in a few days. Some affected customers may stay, but many will likely start looking elsewhere for more reliable options.
Inventory management software can also reduce unnecessary resource reliance. Manual counting is often very time consuming. They can ask to stop the business temporarily, pay overtime, or hire more short-term employees to get the job done. However, software with automated features can often shorten the time it takes to get a good job done.
Poor inventory management can also mean that a company’s workforce isn’t using its time optimally. Warehouse team members can spend hours or minutes finding inventory that the system shows is available. If not found, they may contact supervisors, pulling other workers off their duties. Such inventory failures may also be related to customer service agents contacting affected parties. They will need to explain why the items will arrive late or not at all.
Efforts to minimize inventory errors keep companies running smoothly
Many people initially fail to grasp inventory mistakes that go beyond mistakes like counting items twice or omitting them, resulting in inaccurate numbers. It is essential to develop precautions in the workflow to minimize problems.
That means asking all workers to refresh their training at specific intervals and making sure the company’s onboarding process is robust and applicable. Performing inventory forecasting is also essential, especially since it can help company leaders spot trends and react to them appropriately before it’s too late.
Some people also forget that using the wrong repositories selection method for the task at hand can lead to more errors. As a result, changing existing processes can help manage mistakes and pinpoint where and why things go wrong.
However, business leaders often find investing in automated platforms to be one of the most important things they can do to keep inventory counts accurate. That’s because most of these tech solutions provide real-time updates. Warehouse management systems (WMS) also support automation efforts. A shoe company has achieved 70% increase in inventory accuracy by using one.
Users can also set reorder triggers through automated inventory management products. That way, if a particular product drops to a predetermined level, stock replenishment can happen automatically with little or no human involvement. That’s important, especially with so many employees managing increasingly heavy workloads. Even the most conscientious people make mistakes. Automation is not absolute, but inventory errors can be minimized by providing important precautions.
Automated inventory management software can help power robots
Decision makers are increasingly interested in inventory management software options that support their robot deployment. Home improvement retailer Lowe’s was an early adopter of this strategy when it announced LoweBot in 2016. The machine moved through store aisles to help track inventory levels and assist customers. by helping them find specific products. The concept of robots emerged when brand representatives envisioned a future where items were always in stock and ready for purchase.
Other companies have followed Lowe’s lead. Busy Beaver Building Centers Inc. There are 25 home improvement stores in all three states. After a successful pilot, the company recently brought its inventory management robot to more of its stores.
Before company leaders started using them, team members spent more than 80 hours Perform manual inventory checks on a weekly basis. It’s easy to see why switching to robots will reduce inventory errors and give people more time to get on with other tasks. Now, high-tech machines scan all shelves and graphs every night. They generate relevant reports that only take people 30-40 minutes to research.
Sam’s Club is another brand that has recently increased its use of inventory management software through the deployment of robots. The company has been using automated floor cleaners at its locations since 2020. It gave floor cleaners a second job by attaching inventory scanners to them.
The scanner collects data on stock availability, pricing accuracy, and whether items are taking up the right shelf space. It compiles that information and sends it to the supervisor. Company leaders predict this change will give employees more time to focus on customers while ensuring stores keep as much stock as possible.
Automated inventory management can improve workflow and employee morale
Company leaders who decide to purchase automated inventory management software often find it directly affects employee motivation and satisfaction. Incorrect inventory counts can make it difficult for workers to be productive, making them feel like they’re wasting their time and never getting the job done with their efforts.
Automated inventory management is important for tracking tightly controlled substances, such as in healthcare facilities. Recently, someone announced a cloud-based product that can automatically identify and track locations individual propofol syringes. It’s a drug commonly used for general anesthesia and sedation. The supply is based on preloaded propofol syringes and RFID tags.
The founder of the company said that while in the hospital’s ICU with his daughter, he watched medical professionals administer anesthetics with hand-labelled syringes. That made him wonder if there was a better way. This option makes the clinician’s job easier as they no longer have to use a syringe to withdraw medication from the vial. It’s a difficult and ergonomically unfriendly task.
The data from this solution goes beyond the inventory count and location of individual syringes. It can also help pharmacy staff tell if any dose is past its expiration date or is about to expire. That feature enhances patient safety and allows healthcare providers more time to focus on direct care of those under their supervision rather than being bound to the complexity of drug administration.
Most warehouse workers say automation helps them
Automation can be a sensitive topic. At first, people often find it difficult to see how it can help them and not necessarily be an automatic threat to their jobs. In 2022, researchers interviewed workers and warehouse supervisors in multiple countries. The employee answered three questions, while the supervisor answered two questions. The aim was to determine how people feel about automation and how they believe it affects their work.
Sentiment analysis shows that attitude towards automation is about 60% positive and 40% have negative feelings about it. People feel hopeful about automation making them more productive, able to do higher quality work, and more safely. However, workers fear that automation will cost them their jobs and livelihoods.
Those worries are understandable, especially for those in relatively low-skill roles. Automation solutions often excel at repetitive tasks. That’s why it makes sense for many decision makers to invest in automated inventory management options. Tasks like counting and reviewing inventory can quickly become monotonous, making it easy for people to lose focus or get bored.
Putting automation to work can fix some of those problems. However, managers should take the time to clarify what the technology will and won’t do. It would be helpful if they called attention to how automation can help people enjoy their work more or reduce the risk of injury and fatigue.
Leaders often take time to decide they will invest in automation software. Similarly, workers affected by that choice need the space, support and encouragement to realize that it can be great to move to automation for some parts of the workflow. .
Automated Inventory Management Products Improve Accuracy
Those who recognize the need to minimize inventory errors do not always understand how such mistakes can occur due to various deficiencies. Sometimes, employees are not adequately trained or deal with heavy workloads. In other cases, inefficient processes exist in unrelated parts of the company’s operations, and the negative effects eventually spread to inventory counts.
Automated inventory management software is usually user-friendly and customizable. Many products are also extensible, making them suitable as business requirements evolve.
Automated inventory management products are not an instant or complete fix for these realities. Still, they’re worth exploring, especially since so many of the top picks are purpose-built to meet the needs of modern companies.
Featured Image Credits: Kampus Production’s photo; Bark; Thank you!