Many expanding businesses encounter productivity bottlenecks that stifle potential growth. Typical bottlenecks occur when an inventory management system fails to meet a business’ growing demands.
Bottlenecks should be treated as temporary disruptions that can and should be fixed. Examples include an unexpected material shortage, an absent operator, or machine malfunction – all issues that, while temporary, can directly impair a business’ other capabilities such as failing to meet on-time delivery demands. Here we identify three inventory management bottlenecks which indicate that it’s time to do something about it.
Unorganised warehouse and inventory stock
Maintaining an organised warehouse means putting the most popular products within reach and having systems in place to find everything you need and quickly. You might choose to implement a method of inventory categorisation such as ABC, an SDE analysis, or even an FSN analysis. Whichever method you pick, just make sure it is appropriate for your unique business needs and ensure it is implemented and adopted throughout the warehouse.
Over time, a warehouse can become chaotic and the lack of organisation is going to cause problems with your efficiency. A great solution here is to have strong systems in place that employees use to check-in and pick products. If your underlying systems are ineffective, then you will never be able to keep your warehouse organised. Be prepared to invest in tools you need to keep your warehouse management process streamlined and efficient. When coupled with a great inventory management system, barcodes can help keep track of stock as it moves around the warehouse.
Lack of visibility
If most of the time you simply don’t know enough about your inventory stock to make informed decisions, this means there is an underlying shortage of accurate data available to you. This can be further impracticable when you cannot view inventory stock for specific warehouses across the network in real-time. Common causes of this happening are when systems do not fully integrate with the rest of your business’ technology.
Implement a perpetual inventory management system to track your stock the minute it enters the warehouse. You’ll also be able to see real-time stock levels across the business so you can make informed business decisions.
Lack of automation
Automating a warehouse with efficient scanning systems and inventory control is an investment that can quickly pay for itself over time. A warehouse without the proper automation may be printing several pick tickets for the same order, perhaps unable to match purchase orders with packing lists properly, and most frustratingly spending too much on the wrong inventory stock because of inaccurate counts of products and sales data. However, a scanning system eliminates the need for multiple printed pick tickets and an efficient inventory management system makes it easy to compare company purchase orders against delivery packing lists and so on. With automation, your business becomes more efficient and cuts down on wasteful and redundant processes.
Better inventory management systems require the right tools that allow processes to be automated, streamlined and effective. Such as enabling real-time visibility into inventory stock status and performance indicators. This can also help businesses exercise smarter surveillance of inventory management systems, and flag bottlenecks early so they can be resolved with minimal impact.
Regardless of industry, market conditions and customer expectations are continuously evolving. If you find your current system to be showing any of the above inventory management bottlenecks, and mainly incapable of adapting to changing requirements, it may be time to invest in a quality inventory management solution that fosters growth for your business.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.