Nerds' Eye View: Physical Inventory for Oracle Inventory Management Cloud

There are various ways of counting inventory in Oracle Inventory Management Cloud. Physical Inventory is a way to count everything in all of your locations for total inventory visibility. Many of our customers have a legal requirement to perform full stock counts on a yearly or bi-yearly basis, but this wall-to-wall, in-depth count can be painful to execute for a number of reasons. Our development team shares insights into how our latest mobile function can make this process easier.

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Completing a Physical Inventory Count in Oracle Cloud

Customers often run into challenges like shutting down their entire operations and bringing in volunteers or other personnel not familiar with the warehouse to help complete a physical count.  We've heard from customers that the Oracle Cloud user interface enables users to perform the Physical Inventory task, but it is still time consuming to complete. Once you create a Physical Inventory, Oracle creates a tag for every item on the shelf. Workers are sent out to locate the tags, count the items on the shelf and then write down the quantity. Once completed, the data needs to be manually entered back into Oracle. The opportunity for errors is high.  

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Figure 1: Tag Count Screen in Oracle requires manual input

The Mobile Solution

RF-SMART identified this as an opportunity to take a manual process and streamline to make it a mobile, cloud-based inventory process that is quick and easy to use and can reduce total execution time. Using the RF-SMART Physical Inventory function eliminates the need for paper, directs workers through the count process and reduces the chance of data errors by using scanning. Best of all, the data is updated in Oracle in real-time.

How it Works

You configure your settings for Physical Count in Oracle, and RF-SMART is used to perform the actual counting. One of the additional benefits with the RF-SMART Physical Inventory function is the ability to scan and update tag counts in real time.

There are two versions of RF-SMART’s Physical Inventory Count: Physical Inventory Manual and Physical Inventory 01. Which function you use depends on your warehouse setup, but both functions provide the ability to print new item labels and new tag labels (Example: Recording who counted a tag and on what date).

  • CT50_Physical InventoryPhysical Inventory 01 is a directed function that requires a tag number, which is generated in Oracle, at the start of the process. This contains the relevant information to guide the user around the warehouse during the counting process.

    NOTE: You should use Physical Inventory 01 if the warehouse is in a very logical order with Subinventory, Locator, Item etc. then Physical Inventory 01 to guide workers on the most logical path.  
  • Physical Inventory Manual is a non-directed function that will either find an existing tag or generate a new tag based on the inputted data. With this function, workers will not be guided around the warehouse.

    NOTE: You should use Physical Inventory Manual if the warehouse does not use a heavily structured locator control. This offers more flexibility for the user to count what they see in their own logical fashion.

Figure 2: Count entry via RF-SMART; counts are instantly updated in Oracle

Tips and Tricks for Using Mobile Physical Inventory Function

Now that you understand how Physical Inventory in RF-SMART works, here are some tips and tricks to change how the function works to meet your individual business processes.

Preparing for a Physical Inventory: Best Practices Tips

  • Give advanced notice that a Physical Inventory is occurring.
  • Prior to performing the Physical Inventory, ensure all transactions in Oracle are entered/up to date.
  • During the Physical Inventory, ensure no other transactions are processed as these will not be considered in the Physical Inventory adjustments.

Physical Inventory Manual Tips

  • You can enable the processing of unknown Lots and/or Serials. (see notes below)
  • You can also collect the Item before the Locator. (Use case? This was done for a healthcare customer who does not have barcodes on their shelves and locators. This then caused the Subinventory to be defaulted via item transaction defaults.)

Unknown Lot and Serial Options

  • Unknown Lot with Known Serial : Allowed with setup in RF-SMART but NOT by the Oracle API
  • Known Lot with Unknown Serial: Works as expected
  • Unknown Lot with Unknown Serial: Works as expected
  • Known Lot with Known Serial: Works as expected, assuming the known Serial is the one already associated with the entered known Lot.
  • Users can loop data entry by Serial in the Physical Inventory Manual version of the function.
  • With Subinventory and Locator it’s a good idea to put these in a concatenated barcode to save scans when working with these functions.

The Nerds' Eye View blog is written by members of our RF-SMART Oracle Cloud development team. This series features behind the scenes insights into why we've developed different functionality and how you can best leverage it

Read Part 2 on Cycle Counting

About Scott Sellers: Developer of the Physical Inventory function. Working at RF-SMART for 3 years, joined the Oracle Cloud technical team in June 2019.

About Rachel Warren: Architect/Designer of the Physical Inventory function. Working at RF-SMART for 2 years. Previously worked with Oracle EBS, then switched to work with Oracle Cloud in 2017.

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