On some levels, manufacturers and logistics companies have a lot in common. They both keep lots of inventory on hand for either the production process or for when orders need to be fulfilled, and as such need ways to more effectively track every step of the supply chain. Moreover, these two types of companies both have the need to manage that inventory over time, and cull data about it to make more informed decisions on everything from ordering and operations to overarching efficiency.
As such, these kinds of companies are now looking to multiple fronts to boost efficiency in as many ways as they can. One interesting area where manufacturers and logistics firms alike have begun to tinker in this regard is where it concerns the equipment and software they use to handle inventory in the first place, according to Logistics Management.
Ergonomics in the workplace
Efforts to make equipment and inventory management software more responsive to workers' needs on an ongoing basis pay off in a number of ways, the report said. For one thing, when equipment is easier to hold there are fewer accidents on the job; some estimates show that nearly two-thirds of worker's compensation claims come as a result materials handling mishaps, so the ability of a company to make that process easier can both reduce injuries and save on insurance.
Where inventory management software plays a role here can be less obvious, but no less valuable. When WMS platforms are operating well, they inform better worker decisions when it comes to moving through a warehouse and how best to handle certain items. That, in turn, can reduce fatigue over the course of a work day, allowing for pickers or other employees to stay more focused and aware of potential hazards they may encounter.
Other ways to boost efficiency
Because of these issues and others, many manufacturers are taking a note from logistics firms and increasingly handling their inventory needs digitally, according to a recent survey from Longitude Research and Siemens. To do so, they often rely on the same type of software solutions warehouses do, such as wearables and other mobile sensors, artificial intelligence, and even virtual training that helps ensure all workers know what they're supposed to do for any given task they are assigned.
At this point, 85 percent of these digital adopters are using cloud-based systems, and nearly two-thirds also use connected sensors in their facilities. Moreover, about 3 out of 4 efficiency-focused companies say they are using the data culled from their new software efforts to make better decisions about how their production processes work.
It should therefore come as no surprise that more logistics and manufacturing businesses are increasingly turning to all-digital processes, taking paper invoices, order forms, packing slips, and so on out of the process as much as they can, according to Logistics Manager. However, experts say that there's usually more that can be done to streamline even these processes, and companies should always be on the lookout for ways to take that next step.