6 Rack Inventory Challenges Solved with Location Data and Bluetooth Beacons
Managing inventory can be a huge challenge. Inventory loss or shrinkage adds to the cost of goods produced, resulting in the need to charge higher prices than your competitors. Handling rack inventory also brings with it a number of other challenges which have to be resolved.
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6 Problems in Rack Inventory
Here are some of the problems that you might experience properly managing your rack inventory:
- Inventory loss. Inventory loss can be caused by spoilage, theft, breakage or damage, and paperwork errors. The leading cause of inventory loss is theft, although this includes retail inventory where shoplifting is a concern. Spoilage can be increased by ordering too much of an item.
- Lack of forecasting data to allow you to properly plan purchases, which can result in ordering too much or too little. Many companies do not perform a proper needs analysis. There is a tendency to fall into a pattern of purchasing X amount of inventory every time the rack is empty. This does not take into account seasonal variances in demand or long-term changes that might affect the amount of an item that needs to be kept on hand.
- Lack of proper training for employees. Employee training is one of the biggest issues faced by companies, and manual systems require a lot of employee effort. Each new employee needs to go through a proper orientation process. Sometimes corners may be cut because employers are also trying to take counts, track down missing items, and perform other tasks.
- Large amounts of downtime caused when time is spent counting inventory. Doing periodic counts is outdated, but it still happens. This halts warehouse operations and creates an inefficient process. Counting a sector at a time is better, but imagine not having to do inventory counts at all.
- Using manual inventory systems that do not allow multiple people to check and update inventory at once. This results in different counts in different places. Also, even the best data entry operators will make about one error per 300 characters, which can add up if you have a lot of inventory. A typo in a serial number can easily result in inventory being empty or stockpiled.
- Not cross-referencing locations, resulting in items being misplaced. This can also cause orders not to be completely fulfilled or, even worse, the wrong item going out to your customers.
Many of these problems are caused by not having proper asset tracking in place. Rack inventory is challenging to manage without a high level of automation.
How Can RTLS Help Manage Inventory?
RTLS, which stands for Real-Time Location System, is a location data application that makes a considerable difference for asset tracking. Every piece of inventory is tagged and its location is tracked by a system that employees can access by using even standard cell phones. This significantly reduces shrinkage and helps prevent assets from becoming lost or misplaced. It also removes the need to do specific inventory counts as, when properly used, the system will keep a real-time count. RTLS can also provide you with better visibility of your employees, allowing you to monitor productivity, improve warehouse training, and identify potential problems.
How Does BLE Improve Inventory Management?
Traditional RTLS systems use RFID chips. Although there is a place for RFID chips, they are somewhat cumbersome. They require special scanners and for items to be manually scanned in and out. Some RFID systems can use cell phones, but the range of such systems is a couple of inches, essentially requiring employees to touch the item being scanned. Manual scanning increases the risk of human error. For example, a worker may think they have scanned an item out when it has not actually registered in the system.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons have a distinct advantage. They have a longer range. Beacons in the warehouse, generally set on a grid, talk to each asset independently, without the need for human input, and items being removed can be tracked automatically. This allows staff to do more important things. It also reduces the number of handlers needed for loading and unloading. The system can automatically alert managers if an asset that was not meant to leave the warehouse does. In some cases, a Bluetooth-based system allows for a reduction in staffing levels.
Finally, BLE-based systems are considerably cheaper than older RFID systems. Bluetooth beacons also use less power, resulting in lower energy bills and a reduced need to replace or recharge batteries.
How Can Simon Location Analytics Platform Help?
Because Bluetooth-based asset tracking is highly automated, you need a high level of analysis to make proper use of the data. The data obtained by RTLS can also be used to optimize your warehouse systems and rack inventory management to save time and increase productivity.
Kontakt.io’s Location Analytics Platform – Simon is designed to help apply data from the Internet of Things and real-time location systems to your workflow. This allows you to observe patterns and gain insights to help your business. The system integrates asset management with job time and production tracking, uptime tracking, and automated attendance. Real-time visibility allows for better analysis and use of data, and it further frees up employee time. Simon is available across multiple verticals and supports a variety of models that are designed to improve efficiency, productivity, and analysis of data for business outcomes.
Bluetooth-based inventory management and asset tracking systems allow for higher levels of automation and integration across your business. There is no need to do manual inventory anymore, and the cost of the system is considerably lower than older systems that use RFID tags. Because the system is highly automated, the amount of training needed by new employees is reduced. Employees can focus on efficient picking and ensuring that the truck is loaded on time, rather than worrying about counts and logs.
In other words, Bluetooth asset tracking is the state-of-the-art solution for rack inventory management. Companies that handle large amounts of inventory in their warehouse should consider moving to it. The system will readily pay for itself in reduced costs, often very quickly. Download a copy of our Beacon Buyer’s Guide today to learn more about BLE hardware and Kontakt.io’s solutions.