Inventory management – checking the amount of product on hand, its location and its status in the shipping process – ranks as one of the most important aspects of any business. It allows you to minimize expensive bookkeeping errors and maintain a firm hand on potential assets.
Checking inventory means balancing speed and accuracy, which are often at odds with each other. The faster you work, the easier it is to make mistakes. Yet the more time you spend on a task, the less time you have for other (often equally important) aspects of the job. Achieving that balance isn’t easy with a warehouse full of product to be catalogued, checked and shipped.
The ideal solution is an industrial tablet with an integrated barcode scanner built in. Here are four benefits to using such a device, and the ways it can improve your bottom line.
Industrial Tablets Aid Inventory Audits
Manual inventory counts can be time consuming, as your workers count each piece of product and carefully log the pertinent data. A manual count can halt productivity, or even force you to pay employees overtime to come in on weekends to perform an audit. This isn’t just time consuming, it is expensive. And it doesn’t guarantee accuracy either. A manual count also mean manual data entry, which lends itself to inaccurate counts being entered into your ERP system.
A Windows tablet equipped with a barcode scanner eliminates the unnecessary time without skimping on accuracy. When an industrial tablet is incorporate throughout all process, inventory is electronically tracked from materials receiving, through production and even when you ship product to your customers. The records are much more accurate, and are automatically synced to your ERP software, eliminating the need for periodic manual inventory counts.
Tablets Reduce Errors
Industrial tablets can’t entirely eliminate human error, but they can drastically reduce it by streamlining the process and automatically noting discrepancies. Imagine a scenario in which an employee records you have 50 units of a particular item in stock rather than 500. It’s a single digit, but it can trigger a chain reaction of costly reactions. Purchasing might see the inventory levels are low and unnecessarily purchase more units. Once those units arrive, it quickly becomes apparent that there isn’t space in the warehouse to store everything, which can lead to additional expenses.
A tablet can also better facilitate first in first out (FIFO) policies, which ensure that the first goods purchased are the first ones sold and moved. This is particularly important with perishable goods such as foodstuffs, making sure you ship the oldest products first and avoid losing them to decay.
The ability to instantly scan product the moment it enters the warehouse means you start with a very accurate inventory, and further scans as product is moved or shipped out can keep that count accurate. It also helps keep track of what inventory needs to be used first, saving on waste.
Mitigate Recall Costs with BIN and Lot Tracking
Accurate assessment of your inventory often reverberates across all aspects of your business, especially when it involves things like recalls of tainted or damaged products. For instance, food distributors often use BIN numbers and lot numbers to track specific parcels of food. In the event that food develops a problem such as a virus or contaminant, it’s imperative to isolate which parcels are affected and remove them from circulation.
An operation without an accurate means of identifying the tainted parcels via BIN and Lot control may have to recall an entire product line: costing a huge amount of money. Tablets with barcode scanners, on the other hand allow you to exercise very tight BIN and Lot control.
For example, if a batch of tainted lettuce is detected, tight BIN and Lot tracking can help avert disaster. When a tablet is used to scan product from the field to the shipping dock, which can allow you to identify which batches in your warehouse came from that field, where they might be located in your storage facility, where those packages were shipped to, and perhaps even provide a specific window of time when they may have been picked. That in turn, lets you isolate and separate the tainted product from the untainted product quickly… which limits the damage and can lead to a much smaller recall.
Industrial Tablets Improve Customer Service
The old saying still holds true: the customer is always right. They usually want very specific things in very specific amounts at very specific times, which means you need to be able to check your stock for their requested product quickly and gather it accurately for shipping. That can be difficult when you’re relying on human memory or inaccurate records.
For example, say a customer sends in an order of several specific products. Under a manual system, the order is printed out, a worker goes through the list, the indicated items are located, and the worker then brings them from storage to shipping to be boxed up and shipped out. This can easily lead to errors if the worker selects the wrong items – resulting in irate customers and a lot of extra effort – while double- and triple-checking each order for accuracy slows the process down considerably. Furthermore, such tasks can involve a lot of time tracking down specific products in the warehouse, especially if the worker has to operate on memory.
A tablet, on the other hand, provides a more accurate assessment of where the products in question are located, and can be used to verify that the customer’s order matches the product being shipped. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags used in conjunction with barcode scanners are an excellent way to swiftly scan and pinpoint key inventory items for your customers. RFID allows you to identify products at greater ranges (up to 30 feet), which can focus your attention in the right general location in the warehouse. The barcode scanner can then be used to zero in on the required product quickly and confirm that they match what’s listed in the order.
The benefits of a rugged tablet PC with an integrated barcode scanner can be immeasurable when it comes to your company’s success. For more information on how Cybernet can help you streamline your processes and help you save money, contact us here.