Inventory Factors To Consider

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, as the saying goes, and it turns out it is a saying that is just as applicable to supply chains. When most outside observers think about the links in a supply chain, they think in terms of broad categories like production, shipping and inventory. Of course, a glaring problem with any major aspect of a supply chain, such as those previously mentioned, is going to dramatically diminish the functioning of the overall process. What those who follow supply chains more closely understand, however, is that each broader category contains within it a series a series of sub-categories and sub-processes that are also crucial for the overall success of the entire supply chain.


Considering each aspect of a supply chain at such a micro level is important for several reasons. A breakdown in a major area such as shipping is obviously problematic, but it is usually such a glaring issue that it will receive the immediate attention it needs in order to get things back on track. By contrast, a problem with a small aspect of shipping, such as inefficient communication between a supply chain manager and a temporary trucking company manager, may be a subtle inefficiency that goes unnoticed for months or years at a time. Over the course of such an extended lifespan, a slight problem can build up even more long-term consequences than an obvious disaster. With that importance of attending to details in mind, here is a look at a few factors to remember that can affect the overall quality of an inventory system and thus the overall quality of a supply chain.


Staying Organized


For a type A, hyper-organized personality, there are few things more satisfying than setting up or analyzing a warehouse categorization system. Warehouses often hold tens of thousands of parts, a scale that requires a thorough, effective system of organization in order to locate what’s needed when it’s needed. As an example, many warehouses employ a categorization system referred to as ‘ABC classification,’ wherein the pieces of the inventory are given an A, B, or C label based on factors like the item’s value and the level of documentation that it requires; items given an A designation may be the most valuable and have the most documentation required in the event they need to be moved. There is more than one way to implement an inventory categorization system, and some are more conducive to different inventory sizes. Whatever system is used, it should be simple and easy to understand—and not just for one expert warehouse manager. To promote growth and efficiency, new people should be able to quickly learn the classification system.


Tools Of The Trade




Though warehouses don’t seem like a hub of modern technology, using the latest technology is a surprisingly vital part of modern inventory control. Inventory tracking hardware and software, which collects usable data by scanning inventory barcodes, is one example. Many businesses with smaller inventories choose to rent inventory scanners for this purpose. Integrating mobile technology through a warehouse management system and upgrading conveyor belt-based shipping systems are other ways a warehouse can improve its inventory control processes.




While tech is important, old-fashioned personal relationships are also a vital part of warehouse and inventory management. Maintaining strong working relationships with each shipping supplier can help maintain success and efficiency. Often, a warehouse management system can be programmed to track supplier performance (by a number of different metrics such as communication and scheduling). This allows warehouses to assess the performance of each supplier and potentially provide incentives and consequences based on performance. In this way, new technology and old-school business practices need to stay competitive in today’s inventory game.

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