Looking Ahead: The Future of Inventory Management

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Inventory management has and always will be a key component to the successful operations of any business. In recent times, we’ve seen more and more businesses opt for inventory management software to ensure inventory management success and accurate forecasting. But what does the future hold? In this article, we predict a few exciting changes to inventory management processes in the coming years.

Mobile inventory control

Since the early 90s, businesses have capitalised on barcoding software and tools that make it easier to track goods and processes within their locations and beyond. Because barcoding is so popular, most modern manufacturing and distribution operations have used barcode scanners in their companies for some time.

Barcoding technology is certainly not a new technology, but the use of mobile scanning tools to streamline inventory control tasks is. The barcode scanning technology of the future will speed cycle counting and year-end physical counting by 75% with paper-free, automated data entry that helps ensure high levels of accuracy, and will leverage those highly accurate numbers to provide businesses with real-time insight into warehouse and manufacturing processes from anywhere and at any time.

These cloud-based scanners and information portals work on iOS and Android devices, which means their operations are intuitive and require little to no training, and the real-time insight they provide can enhance your ability to manage any process from any location, react quickly to unexpected changes and stay agile, and assist with just-in-time purchasing decisions.

Artificial intelligence

One of the largest changes we can expect to see in the future is the increased adoption of AI in the workplace. While many businesses can currently use chatbots and relatively simple analytics programs to easily check in on the current status of goods and production, the AI of the future will do much more.

From helping you make decisions in all of the business locations worldwide to assisting with complex inventory control functions, artificial intelligence of the future will help businesses gain instant, accurate answers to everything relating to your business operations.

In essence, over the next decade, AI will help cutting-edge leaders find root causes of common business problems through things such as space utilisation analysis, inventory needs versus capacities analysis, and cost reductions on all fronts.

Voice-directed picking

One of the biggest challenges that the leaders of modern distribution companies face lies in the task of finding and training low-cost holiday employees. The increase of eCommerce has amplified the need for ‘round-the-clock operations and has led to a labour shortage during the holidays. This means that busy warehouses now must compete for short-term, low-skill workers.

To negate the time delays involved with investing large amounts of resources into training these short-term employees, modern warehouses are increasingly turning to voice-directed picking, a hands-free solution that leverages the power of artificial intelligence to audibly guide workers through the warehouse without wander time; walk them through the steps of the pick, pack, and ship process; and prompt employees to make visual confirmations of inventory selections so they can also increase order accuracy.

In the coming years, we can expect to see an increase in voice-directed picking, as it provides a quick and effective method for training new employees when necessary.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

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.

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