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Posts Tagged ‘saving money with barcoding’

A recent post by Brian Neufeld of Insight Works, a manufacturing and warehouse management supplier of software add-ins for Microsoft Dynamics points out a few of the key areas where companies lose money due to inaccurate inventory – points we think worth passing along today.

One key area of waste involves, of course, the tying up of working capital.  Inaccurate counts create situations where purchasers buy more inventory than they need, tying up precious capital.  How often is it the case that misplaced inventory, or double-locations, cause confusion and increased costs?  Having 100 of something when you only need 50 is simply wasteful – but unless you know just how many you have of an item, and its precise location, it’s a mistake that’s all too easy to make.

Multiplied across enough items, in the end you’re reducing the amount of capital available for more important uses, basically a lost opportunity cost.

And then there’s inventory shrink.  According to the National Retail Federation, 1.44% of all sales are lost to inventory shrink.   Shrink does not only refer to theft and damage, but can also be a byproduct of bad counts and other tracking inaccuracies.

And then there are labor costs.  A lot of time gets lost chasing down items that aren’t there… or aren’t where a system says they are.  That lost time is compounded when others have to join the search.  And it doesn’t have to happen all the time to add up to a fair amount of lost labor efficiency chasing product.

Then there’s the cost of lost customers due to the inability to fulfill customer orders or meet their time demands, often caused by out-of-stock situations.

All these issues and more can be turned around by embracing the benefits of warehouse and inventory automation.  Paper-based systems are error-prone, labor-intensive and time-consuming.  Today’s digital solutions, consisting of software integrated with the company’s inventory, production and sales orders, and coupled with commonly available handheld bar code scanners, can make these mistakes and costly issues a thing of the past.

 

 

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We’ll end 2017 with the conclusion of our two-part post about improving your warehouse through better data.  As we pointed out in our prior post, having a decent Warehouse Management System within your ERP system is not enough – it needs to run with accurate data.  The answer: barcoding.

In our prior post we reprised comments from Insight Works’ Brian Neufeld regarding how barcode scanning is the best choice for warehouse goods tracking.  As Brian notes:

  • Barcode scanning efficiency results in more frequent inventory and cycle counts, and faster cycle counts can improve data accuracy which also improves productivity and fill rates.
  • Order fulfillment is more accurate, ultimately improving shipping times and customer satisfaction.
  • Warehouse managers see a reduction in necessary labor time, so barcode systems can pay for themselves after the first annual count.

How?  Well, in a manual environment, ONLY with great effort.  Inventory counts performed outside regular hours and requiring overtime are often required to collect, record, check and input the data.  It can take days, as we’ve seen with some companies.  And the counts are still subject to many errors.

With barcoding, employees utilize handheld scanners to scan bin numbers, and 2D labels on products and bins make unit counts quick and easy.  Counts can be entered into the scanners when required, and each employee is a unique (and accountable) scanner/counter.  Scanning can cut inventory count times by up to 90%.

As always, it comes down to cost, but here, the news is mostly good.  Most barcode solutions, once successfully implemented (and yes, there is time and a learning curve and some integration to be considered) can yield a payback with a relatively quick ROI — especially when you’re saving up to 90% of the time-value of those costly and tedious inventory counts.

A consultant can help you determine answers to issues like selecting the right barcode method, the right devices (fixed or mobile), and the right formats, labels and media.  The cost recapture on the savings from reduced data entry errors, reduced picking errors, and especially from reduced inventory, can add up much faster than most people realize.  The combination of savings in a typical warehouse can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in savings in very short order.  We’ve seen it often.

In the end, it’s not a question of “if” you should do barcode, but “when.”  You have to crawl before you walk before you run, as we often like to say.  It’s not usually the first warehouse project we tackle, but when your WMS and ERP and inventory systems are ready, it can be one of the fastest and biggest payouts you’ll find inside your company.

Sounds like a great way to start the New Year, doesn’t it?

And on that note… Our best wishes to you and yours for a very Happy New Year as well!

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For the year’s final two posts we take a look at an issue that’s troubling to many of our clients and would-be clients: effective warehouse management.  Starting a new year seems to be the perfect time to address this nemesis of many a distribution and manufacturing operation.  Many companies use the pre-New Year’s week as a week to wind down and to attend to inventory and warehouse matters… so here goes.

Managing a warehouse accurately can be a multi-faceted and almost overwhelming responsibility, made worse by the fact that most warehouse operations are in a constant state of flux.  That’s true even in smaller warehouse operations.  So in this post and our next one we’ll take a look at some issues and advice on how warehouse managers can ‘get a grip’ on their operations, and how today’s tools can make the job more manageable.

The better ERP systems (though not nearly all) can act as a repository for warehouse data.  But just because you have an integrated ERP system that holds that warehouse data doesn’t mean you have complete control over the operation.  You simply have a tool – one that can highlight existing inefficiencies, inaccuracies, bad counts, inventory overstocks and shortages, and a host of other issues.

Warehouse managers face tough challenges that include having capital tied up in too much excess inventory, bad records that too often lead to costly ‘expedited’ purchases, lower than anticipated margins, late shipments and lower customer satisfaction and/or on-time deliveries.

The common problem in all cases is inaccurate data.  After all, if it weren’t, you’d have the right inventory, and you’d have what you thought you had (or the reports told you that you had) in your bins and shelves.  You’d deliver on-time more often, more accurately.

Often, even with a WMS (Warehouse Management System) in place, warehouses can become beholden to too many slips of paper – handwritten receipt notifications that never quite make it “into the system,” or hand-marked (and re-marked) physical inventory counts, picking tickets and special notes to pickers.

At some point, it all becomes too time-consuming, frustrating and error-prone.  And that all comes at a cost.  WMS is not enough – you also have to have accurate data to work from.

And that’s where barcode scanning comes into play.

As Brian Neufeld of Insight Works points out (in a post on MSDynamicsWorld):

“In terms of cost and universal acceptance, barcode scanning is the best choice for warehouse goods tracking. Put simply, these software systems allow transactions in a warehouse to be processed much faster and with considerably less errors, with such transactions encompassing everything from inventory counts to put-aways, receipts, picks, shipments, and more.”

We agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Neufeld, and so in our next and concluding post, we’ll take a look at how to put a solution into action.  Stay tuned…

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