It’s a new year, you’re armed with a new set of business goals and objectives, and you’re eager to hit the ground running. But how can you carry that January enthusiasm into the many months to come? In case you didn’t know, we’ve already passed the point in the year where the average well-intentioned ‘New Year’s Resolution’ has been abandoned. With diets and gym memberships being ditched left, right and center, how do you protect your supply chain goals from meeting the same fate?
Here are 2 inventory management objectives you can focus on for 2021, along with a few strategies to help you actually see them through. Achieving them may mean the difference between surpassing your competition and spending another year enduring the same daily pain points.
1. Sharpen Up Your Counts
Many of you will have just completed a lengthy and challenging manual inventory count, so these obstacles will be top of mind:
Having to pause warehouse operations – It stands to reason that you can’t accurately perform a manual count while stock is moving through the warehouse. So naturally, you hit the pause button, bringing activities like bin replenishments and order shipments to a halt. Now you’ve got to somehow boost productivity to get your backlog of orders out on time – or risk leaving your customers unhappy.
Battling with discrepancies – If your staff isn't especially meticulous when counting your stock, your inventory accuracy won’t be very high. Any time an incorrect quantity, location or item name is recorded, you’re setting yourself up for more issues down the line. This is particularly disheartening when you consider the number of labor hours that typically go into the process.
How do you ensure your counts are accurate and worthwhile? First, be thorough in your planning; define exactly which items will be counted, the areas that will be covered, and how much resource you’ll dedicate to the task. Make an effort to maintain a tidy warehouse throughout the year, accurately labelling all of your SKUs, thus making the process as smooth as possible. Check out the rest of our counting best practices here, and again, do your best to incorporate them within your plan as early as possible.
If you’re ready to explore automation as a project to help you overcome the limitations of manual processes, consider cycle counting. Using mobile devices, you can count individual locations on a regular basis in real-time, eliminating the pitfalls that come with closing down the entire warehouse. This is an excellent option for any business that can’t afford to have downtime – speak to our team to learn more.
2. Stay on Top of Tech Trends
One thing we can learn from the global events in 2020 is that there is a pressing need to be more agile in the face of economic uncertainty. In their 2021 Tech Trends report, Deloitte predicts that many businesses will pursue the following 3 supply chain strategies in the next 18 to 24 months to increase their resilience and reduce risk:
Using various digital tools, companies will hyper-segment customers and “capture demand signals from disparate parts of their value chains.” This will enable them to be more responsive and react faster to demand.
There will also be a focus on capturing large volumes of data; the subsequent operational insights will empower businesses to optimize their supply chains, helping them become more competitive.
We will see wider adoption of “robots, drones, and other technologies to make supply chain teams more effective, efficient, productive, and safe.”
So how can you get ahead of the curve and align your business strategy with these trends?
Segmentation and demand – One of the easiest ways to monitor demand signals is to have real-time visibility over the stock in your warehouse. You can achieve this by introducing inventory management software to your tech stack. By labelling your stock and scanning it as you receive, pick and ship it, you'll be able to keep an eye on demand fluctuations, helping you make the right decisions to minimize costs and capitalize on market changes.
Capturing large volumes of data – Similarly, mobile inventory management can help you capture both high-level and granular supply chain data. You can measure KPIs that relate to the productivity of your workforce, the efficiency of your manufacturing processes and the status of your products.
However, the key is to maintain a single, central source of information. If you adopt various disparate systems to manage different aspects of your operations, that defeats the purpose. Seek solutions that work in harmony; for instance, if you're using NetSuite ERP, opt for a system that requires little to no integration so that your data stays consistent and valid.
Automation – Which automation technologies you pursue will entirely depend on the nature of your business. Whether you’re looking at WMS, RFID, or drones and robots, be sure to calculate your ROI and ensure the solution fully meets your needs and expectations.
Sticking to these two supply chain resolutions will boost your efficiency and set you up for a more prosperous 2021. If you’d like to find out more about how our NetSuite and Oracle SCM Cloud solution can potentially help your business, get in touch.
RF-SMART is a global provider of warehouse automation solutions for NetSuite, Oracle Cloud, JD Edwards and Microsoft AX.
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