Energy and utilities companies are often responsible for delivering vital services to the public. To do this effectively while keeping costs to a minimum, they must maintain accurate and efficient supply chains with clear visibility over their processes and assets. As well as the pitfalls of revenue loss and low productivity, not having adequate inventory control could mean regulatory consequences for many businesses in this space.
Paper-based inventory tracking is becoming a thing of the past, and for good reason. Oracle Cloud users throughout the energy and utilities sectors are realizing that manual processes are notoriously error-prone and detrimental to their performance. While there will be nuances to the types of inventory challenges each individual organization faces, there is a definite demand for greater accuracy and efficiency across the board.
Why Mobile Technology Is Critical
Why is it especially important to eliminate paper if you're in this sector? Aside from the obvious environmental implications – which are hard to overlook if you work in energy – using paper in place of mobile inventory tools means you’re less productive, less efficient, and less accurate:
ADHERING TO REGULATIONS Industries such as oil and gas are governed by regulatory bodies within their respective geographical regions. As such, businesses are obliged to comply with strict regulations when it comes to production and inventory management. Maintaining traceability and capturing information like lot or serial numbers is crucial, and using paper is an unnecessary avenue for errors.
Adopting a high-performance ERP like Oracle Cloud is a fantastic first step towards centralizing business data and getting greater supply chain control. The next move is to extend its capabilities and boost performance with purpose-built tools like RF-SMART.
VISIBILITY OF ASSETS AND PROCESSES Not having an accurate, up-to-date view of stock levels is a serious disadvantage for any business that operates on a project-driven basis, or that has to adhere to pre-defined budgets. Energy companies often have to manage accurate levels of safety stock and respond to fast turnaround times; this is going to be difficult when you don’t know what you’ve got and where it’s located. Leveraging tools like mobile cycle countingcan help to turn this around. For example, energy manufacturer Fairfield Nodal now counts 50% faster than before and maintains near-perfect inventory accuracy.
MOVING INVENTORY Whenever you receive, pick, pack, ship or move inventory, using paper to record these transactions will inevitably lead to instances of human error. Inventory for energy companies could include:
Tools, hardware and machinery
As workers manually transcribe data, details like item names and quantities can easily be mis-recorded. The same risk is present when the information is manually transferred into the ERP at a computer terminal. The compound effect of these errors could mean project delays, increased costs and poor service delivery to the customer.
Thinking Beyond Supply Chain Inventory Management
For many energy companies using Cloud, standard mobile barcoding will be enough to achieve the required level of supply chain efficiency. But there are various use cases where advanced functionality would be valuable and even necessary.
PROJECT-DRIVEN SUPPLY CHAIN
If you’re an organization that works on a project-driven basis, it makes sense to have a solution that enables you to track inventory by projects and tasks in Oracle Inventory Cloud.
Example: A manufacturer of gas pipelines needs to record their materials and transactions separately for each project they undertake. From creating sales orders to tracking manufacturing and shipping, Oracle Cloud allows the business to manage the entire quote-to-cash process through Project-Driven Supply Chain. Further enabling this Oracle Cloud functionality, RF-SMART makes it simple for their workers to track inventory at a project level with mobile functions like receiving, tracking, and putaways.
Many energy companies work across multiple sites that are often large in size, meaning there will be times when there is little to no WiFi coverage. Having a solution that supports offline mobility will make it much easier to maintain inventory accuracy.
Example: A wind turbine manufacturer is responsible for supplying and maintaining assets at multiple offshore sites. By leveraging a mobile solution with offline capability, such as RF-SMART, workers can connect to the ERP no matter where they are; all transactional data is updated as soon as an internet connection is available, preventing inaccuracy and data loss.
MOBILE FIXED ASSETS
From the extraction of raw materials to the production of solar panels, businesses in this arena are reliant on a range of expensive fixed assets that are fundamental for their operations. According to Gartner, 30% of organizations do not know what assets they own, where they are located, or who is using them.
Example: Remote sales team members at a solar panel wholesale business are given company property including laptops, phones and demo equipment to carry out their jobs. These fixed assets are received and dispatched from HQ - using mobile fixed assets functionality, the IT team leverages handheld devices to scan and count company property so that there is always an up-to-date record of each item's whereabouts.
Ballard Streamlines Manufacturing Process in the Cloud
Ballard Power Systems is a world-class manufacturer and developer of alternative energy products, namely proton exchange membrane fuel cell technology. After adopting Oracle SCM Cloud to centralize their data, they realized there was a further requirement for mobile barcode scanning.
Ballard required a solution that would enable their manufacturing team to transact production and inventory data into Oracle Cloud in real-time. Their selection criteria included a requirement for the solution to be intuitive and user-friendly. Label printing functionality was also needed so that they could print WIP labels as parts moved along the assembly line.
The manufacturing and inventory teams are now leveraging handheld scanners on the shop floor. Their processes have become streamlined, and the devices provide validation at every touchpoint, meaning they’ve managed to eliminate any gaps for human error. RF-SMART is extremely easy to use, so employees can be trained quickly and feel confident as they carry out their work. They can also now print labels on demand across the various different printers in their warehouse, adding convenience.
Want to learn more about how RF-SMART can help your energy business?
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