Keeping track of an ever-changing inventory can prove to be a difficult undertaking for most. There is so much to juggle, so much data to organize, so much to make sense of in a space in which that data may change wildly from minute to minute.
Even the very best logistics manager in the field today will tell you that every day there is a new challenge that they are faced with and must figure out how to navigate their team through. And to do that, you must also take into consideration that every role on that team relies on various pieces of data to function optimally, and all that data and forecasting must be correct if it is to be of any use at all.
To counteract some of these problems, many warehouse managers will hold a cache of safety stock in the event that there forecasts or other data is faulty so as not to run out of goods.
When you compound this with the fact that there are also external factors that may directly impact an otherwise smooth operation, such as slow inbound deliveries and quality control issues, the task seems even more hopeless at times.
But fret not, because while all of these things are most certainly a possibility, there are a few basic steps that you can take right now to prevent a lot of headaches further down the road.
So get your notepad out and get ready to take a few notes…
Do you know where everything is located in your warehouse? Would you be able to find it on the shelf and pull it for shipping with ease?
If not, you have a huge problem on your hands.
The very first matter of business is to familiarize yourself with everything in your warehouse. Yes, I said everything. Take a walk around the floor, examine what is on the shelves, take a count and log it. It isn’t enough to do this only when supplies are running low. No, you need to do it every single day.
After doing this for a while, you can direct your employees what to pull and where to find it without having to stop to look for that elusive pallet.
Do this and you will have given your team a solid foundation to build up from.
Warehouses are generally not super small spaces. But what good is all that open floor space if you aren’t keeping it organized and arranged in a way that is conducive to the flow of your operation?
Move things around for the purpose of making the inbound and outbound flow of your inventory as smooth as possible. Can your team access the goods with the highest turn-over rate easily? Are all the walkways clear of debris? Are all the pathways in the warehouse large enough to facilitate the use of a forklift?
Keeping everything in its place and tidied up, you will free up a lot of room for more inventory and keep the stress level down amongst your team who more than likely hates spending an hour moving pallets they don’t need in order to pull some stock that needs to be shipped asap.
Stock orders play a pretty large role in the grand scheme of things when it comes to your inventory. If it is possible to minimize or increase the size of your orders or the frequency at which they are ordered you can free up quite a bit of space for more of your high-turnover goods.
On top of freeing up more real estate space, this will also cut down on waste and clutter because as soon as they come in, they are put away quickly since there are not multiple orders needing to be fulfilled on a daily basis. Your team can focus on getting a big order put up and focus on more pressing tasks until the next large order comes in.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to make sure that your inventory efforts are not in vain is by practicing responsible record-keeping. While this is one of the most common and basic tasks to be fulfilled, it is still disproportionately overlooked by a large number of logistics managers.
Even if you make extensive use of technology to handle the majority of your inventory management efforts in your warehouse, nothing beats good old-fashioned manual tracking. There are barcodes to scan, inventory counts to make, and time spent on maintaining a working inventory system. Don’t put all of your efforts in the hands of a piece of technology without a backup plan.
Get out there on the floor, communicate with your teams and double-check all the data you have on a routine basis to make sure that nothing is amiss and that everything is being accounted for properly either way.
In this article, we have looked at some of the biggest pain points in inventory tracking and how you can go about rectifying them when they arise.
A few basic steps, a healthy dose of common sense, and some dedication are all it takes to go from complete chaos to inventory bliss in a short amount of time.