November 14, 2016 | Written by: Nate Goodman
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We thought you’d enjoy this recent thought leadership article on inventory control and asset tracking — a major concern of businesses of all sizes. The article was originally published on thoughtreach.com by Nate Goodman. Learn more about how IBM Watson IoT for Asset Management can help you obtain greater value from your assets by visiting our website or contact a representative today.
Inventory control isn’t a challenge faced only by warehouses and retailers. Most small businesses have physical assets they rely on to facilitate processes or create products. Whether a company handles a few hundred or hundreds of thousands of assets, inadequate inventory control leads to disorganized workflows, wasted time, and unnecessary delays. Asset tracking provides a foundation for better inventory control, simplifying several challenges associated with managing inventory.
Forecasting is one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses. Many business outcomes rely on accurate forecasting. With inventory shortages, teams lack the supplies to fill orders. Backorders lead to unhappy customers, and then customer service representatives must come up with acceptable resolutions to keep customers satisfied and coming back. In other words, these situations can impact the entire organization.
Asset tracking streamlines forecasting by maintaining precise inventory counts in a central database, along with historical data, previous orders and other information. Every bit of data is at your fingertips, enabling you to identify trends and make more accurate predictions to meet demands. That means you’re not stuck with unused surplus that’s taking up valuable space, but you’re not short on needed supplies.
Poor inter-departmental communication
With employees bearing ever-increasing workloads, it’s not surprising that lapses in communication lead to mishaps. If management decides to switch vendors for a particular product, for instance, but that news never trickles down to the person responsible for placing orders from one department, a purchase could be made from the wrong supplier. These issues are easily avoided with an asset tracking system. Since inventory is documented and managed from a central database, any authorized employee can pull up the most recent data in seconds.
Under ordinary circumstances, an executive may have to wait for his administrative assistant to look up the right information and compile a report needed for a meeting. Some asset management software applications offer report-generating capabilities, enabling users to generate a variety of views in just a few clicks. Others offer asset tags compatible with a variety of asset management software applications, enabling businesses to easily implement comprehensive inventory control procedures without complicated setup.
Many industries are regulated by federal agencies that develop standard rules and guidelines to even the playing field, minimize risks and mandate minimum performance levels. Organizations under regulatory oversight are faced with constantly changing rules and strict penalties for non-compliance, including the potential loss of valuable government contracts.
Regulatory guidelines may mandate minimum inventory levels for safety supplies, for instance. Some inventory must meet safety standards or undergo inspection. Ensuring that these regulations are met on an ongoing basis is a challenging task for organizations handling sensitive inventory or large quantities. In some cases, regulatory agencies conduct periodic inspections of facilities and observe operations without notice.
One glitch in inventory control as a result of poor documentation can have serious consequences. Asset tracking makes it easy to monitor the status of inventory as it makes its way through an organization. Some asset management software programs can be configured to flag tasks or issue notifications when an asset’s record doesn’t indicate that all requirements have been met. Asset tracking serves as a valuable safeguard not only for maintaining compliance, but avoiding errors that could potentially impact safety.
Sudden rush orders create chaos
A large, sudden rush order often leaves teams scrambling to put last-minute plans in place. Without an organized asset tracking system, employees may not have immediate access to asset allocation information. That means in the rush of trying to fulfil a last-minute request, inventory actually intended for another project might be shifted to meet the immediate need, creating a domino effect of disrupted schedules across the company.
Asset tracking enables inventory managers to assign inventory to specific projects. When another employee pulls up the database it’s immediately clear that the current inventory has already been allocated elsewhere.
Inventory control is much more than a mere running count of all the physical items in the building. For many businesses, every facet of the company depends on adequate inventory. The ability to accurately forecast shifting demands and new opportunities is a competitive edge, facilitating the ability to scale operations or change direction on a dime. In the modern world of business, precision, efficiency and accountability is often what sets one company apart from the rest.
This article is by Nate Goodman from thoughtreach.com.
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Learn more about how IBM Watson IoT for Asset Management can help you obtain greater value from your assets by visiting our website or contact a representative today.