By embracing new technologies, and applying an IoT approach to wholesale distribution, inventory management and predictive maintenance can be simplified—increasing your time and financial position to enhance the experience for your clients and customers.
Smart inventory management: what’s behind it?
Smart warehouse and inventory management is made up of multiple components. With today’s consumers expecting to click, purchase and receive orders in a matter of days, or even hours, the rise of IoT in inventory management couldn’t have come a moment sooner.
The first component of smart inventory management is IoT; the process of connecting any device that features an on and off switch to the internet, as well as other devices. The importance of IoT lies in its connectivity capabilities. This is because the connection between devices allows data sharing which can then prompt actions in an anticipatory fashion, making business actions more efficient.
The list of connectable devices grows daily. Currently, the device network includes everything from mobile phones, headphones, wearable devices, and even lamps.
An inventory management solution centred around IoT will also require the use of RFID tags and readers. An RFID tag, carrying an unique identification number (ID) containing encoded data such as inventory item, model and batch number, is placed on a physical surface, raw material, finished goods or package.
These tags are passive and require the power of a reader to be able to transmit worthwhile data. Readers can either be fixed or handheld, and work by extracting the tag’s ID and transmitting the information to the cloud for processing. Using this captured data, the cloud system will display real-time updates about the item’s movements and state of being.
The benefits of an IoT approach
Installing an IoT inventory management solution offers numerous benefits. Having increased access to, and unprecedented transparency into, the state of your inventory results in not only improved operational efficiency for your business, but more revenue-saving opportunities ongoing. IoT inventory management is one of the best ways to revolutionise the functionality of your company.
Automated inventory tracking and reporting
Instead of walking into the warehouse and looking for a specific item, an IoT inventory management approach allows for automated and remote tracking, accessible on computers and even mobile phones. By introducing connected sensors and data storage platforms, you can track the location of your goods, and get low-stock alerts or notifications if a product is misplaced, making it possible to quickly and accurately obtain product data at any point throughout the supply chain.
Constant visibility into inventory information
Consistent visibility into your inventory, as well as the ability to receive real-time data whenever you need to, means you’re constantly informed about your inventory processes—providing your business with an additional layer of quality assurance. An IoT approach can help monitor the days to the expiration of goods. Under this system, products can be protected from theft and loss.
Identification of bottlenecks
With your inventory tracked in real-time, underlying issues can also be tracked in real-time. This can help you identify and resolve machine malfunctioning, or locate where goods are being delayed in transit to find alternative routes for delivery—all before customers are even aware that there might be a problem.
Optimised lead time
Tracking inventory in real-time helps improve forecasting accuracy, whilst also providing you with more accurate lead times. This is thanks to the capabilities of accessing real-time data and analytics. Additionally, excessive lead times can also be identified to avoid bottlenecks caused by critical parts going missing, or products being held up in transit.
The IoT approach to inventory management allows managers to collect warehouse and supply chain data in real-time. This kind of transparency streamlines internal operations, thanks to warehouses providing the right platform for launching IoT projects, and validating new opportunities thanks to improved technology. Most importantly, it allows you to communicate directly with your customers about the current availability of any item in your inventory.
What smart technology means for the future of warehouses
Often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, smart technology will see warehouses of the future expand—characterised by efficient operations and effective cost control processes, amongst other things—all of which work to ensure that modern day shoppers have access to any product they desire, when they desire it.
Supply chain visibility
IoT inventory management systems can ensure that warehouses of the future offer unparalleled supply chain visibility. The connectivity that defines IoT will help warehouse managers track the state of goods in the warehouse as well as during the process of delivery. All the while keeping an eye on the location and speed of the delivery vehicle.
Lower likelihood of product returns
Automated processes with less manual data entry will mean fewer complaints and fewer returns for smart warehouses of the future. By avoiding the problem of processing returned orders, you’ll reduce unforeseen costs and risks to your credibility. Smart integration also gives you a better chance of increasing your contract profitability. Consider introducing an OCR engine to increase accuracy and enable you to build a process that is less manual, costly and time-consuming.
Task automation fights talent shortage
Finding skilled talent is a challenge for warehouse managers. However, with smart technology, you can reduce the need to look for new hires, and improve the logistics in your warehouse. Thanks to automated data collection, warehouses won’t fall victim to human errors or inaccuracies, and it becomes easier to improve the productivity of your current team. Improvements include arranging items by an algorithm according to demand, or smart glasses and voice-driven guidance platforms to help instruct your staff, without interrupting their workdays.
Streamlining inventory management systems
An Internet of Things based inventory management approach directly affects your warehouse, workers and customers. Integrating IoT offers both operational advantages and connectivity benefits, keeping your warehouse management—and in turn, your business—functional and competitive in the broader business landscape.
In the digital age, your customers will demand access to items at the touch of a button. You must embrace new forms of technology to remain a leader in your field, and simplifying the manual complexity of your inventory management systems is a step in the right direction.
With an IoT approach, featuring advanced tools like RFID tags and readers, you can create the ideal environment to streamline the management of your warehouse and inventory with unparalleled stock tracking and supply chain transparency. This will result in a more productive warehouse with smoother incoming and outgoing processes—making your business easier to run, and increasing your transparency with your customers.
Whether you’re working with manual processes and legacy systems, or you’ve already started transitioning to an IoT solution, Nexon understands that every transformation project is different. We have the expert capabilities needed to deploy a complete solution for your needs. By partnering with Nexon, you’ll gain access to a specialised team with the experience to build an ecosystem that leverages integration, automation and IoT for the best possible results ongoing.
To connect with an experienced Nexon consultant who can help you unlock better inventory management through the application of IoT, contact us today.