How to Control Inventory in a Warehouse
As the manager of a warehouse, accurate control and management of inventory is of utmost priority. This is because, in terms of your financial obligations and workflow, immobile stock cannot be considered an asset; the longer something stays dormant within your warehouse without a means of processing it, the more it costs you and your business overall. Having a stringent inventory control process will allow you a more robust understanding of what stock you have, where it’s going, and how to improve efficiency.
At ICS, we provide a wide selection of CribMaster™ inventory management vending machines, systems, and solutions for businesses across the commercial, industrial, and construction sectors.
So, today, we’re going to look at how to control inventory in a warehouse, and a few ways in which you can streamline your existing systems.
Perform an Audit
Before you start throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, it’s important for you to first understand the current status of your business’ inventory control systems. A complete analysis looking into your warehouse inventory management will not only provide you with a better understanding of your immediate status and points of concern, but will allow you an overview of areas in which your attention is best focused.
For this, look over stocktaking reports, as well as any data and reports on the status of your facility through monthly cycles, whilst also creating new data on information pertaining to your current performance. Insights cannot be accurately gleamed from poor or outdated data capture, so ensure that your data capturing and communications remain consistent and accurate across the board.
Once you feel that you have a strong understanding of your warehouse’s current situation and how effectively your processes are performing, you can then begin to shift your focus toward procedure and inventory control.
Inventory Control and Flow
As a warehouse manager, maintaining inventory flow is essential to boosting profitability and productivity across your entire system. So, here are some ways to detect and fix common issues associated with maintaining a strong control over your inventory flow as a whole.
In a large warehouse with a lot of moving parts, issues or difficulties with oversight can quickly lead to inefficient warehouse layouts in which the process of finding inventory and shifting it through the workflow is overcomplicated. You need a strong, practical approach to workflow strategy across your entire process, and this can only come from having a floorplan that makes sense for your workers and products.
One consideration during this part of the process is to go step by step through the warehouse lifecycle of certain assets, from acquisition and storage all the way through to shipping and distribution. In doing so, take note of steps in which there is unnecessary expenditure of energy, time, or resources, such as items that need to be used together being on opposite sides of the storage space. You’re likely to notice instances in which processes can be made far more efficient simply by making tweaks to the floorplan if how your warehouse is set up.
Put More Focus on Cycle Counting
As an essential part of the stocktaking process, cycle counting is what is going to give you as a manager the best overview of how effectively your stock is getting from point A to point B within your warehouse workflow. In a case where cycle counting is the exception rather than the rule, increasing the regularity of checks like these will provide you with more accurate, consistent data and make you more ready to detect inefficiencies or problems as they happen.
Simply relying on bi-yearly stocktakes to ensure accurate data can leave lingering issues for months without resolution, whilst performing more regular, smaller checks can help you accurately change and improve methods as issues arise. This will also allow you more accurate data to pull from in the case of problems being brought to light during your stocktakes.
Keep Essential Items in Secure, Easily Accessible Locations
As we touched on earlier, one of the big issues associated with warehouse flow is the need for employees to go back and forth between inefficiently-placed stock and items that aren’t being stored with efficiency of use in mind. This is not only true for stock, but also the tools required for workers to perform tasks on a moment to moment basis. Having a solid understanding of where these tools are, what their status is, and whether they have been put back in the correct place after use is as necessary as it is to track under traditional means.
Luckily, ICS and CribMaster™ have a solution, offering a range of high-security tool cribs that can be accessed and tracked only by those who you know to have a reason for needing them. These systems can be accessed utilising your employees’ ID badges, or tracked using a simple app from anywhere. That way, even if you’re working off-site, you can still get an overview of your equipment’s status, including single-use items such as masks or gloves in cases where they’re relevant.
Product Picking Perfection
Product picking, the process of selecting the correct ordered items, is one of the most important parts of your inventory control, as it will be the time that all of your other systems of managing and storing items is put to the test. Being able to consistently, and easily select the correct items from your warehouse inventory to fulfil customer requirements is essential, and if you have instances of said customers receiving incorrect or obviously damaged stock, then this will be a sign that your systems need further scrutiny.
Having a strong understanding of your business is essential in any industry, but it’s especially important in warehouse management. If you’d like to learn more about inventory storage and tracking, visit the ICS blog today. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for better inventory control systems, explore our wide range of solutions.