When people hear materials were stolen from a company's warehouse, they may be quick to assume the thieves broke in to steal valuable inventory. However, Supply Chain Demand Executive recently featured a story on a pair of Baltimore business warehouses that lost 2.8 million pounds of plastic loading materials to theft.

Criminals steal inventory pallets, crates and containers when they are made of a high-density polyethylene and polypropylene. These materials are bought by recycling centers. An event such as this mass theft demonstrates that most warehouse tools and assets are valuable and must be closely monitored. 

Inventory tracking devices – such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV Barcoding and Mobile Warehouse Inventory Management – can give companies visibility of product and supply distribution flow. These same tools can also report from other parts of the warehouse to supervise and improve daily procedures.

Labeling warehouse assets and materials
Multichannel Merchant stated many warehouse have started to tag pallets and crates with barcode labels so they can follow the movement of the equipment.

Pallets are especially hard to track because they must be returned to the company after delivery. Barcode labels on pallets or other transport materials let supervisors track asset movements in a data platform. Inventory workers, shipping dock agents and delivery personnel should all have access to barcoding or mobile tools so they can report the movement of equipment as it flows in and out of a warehouse.

A software system fed real-time information about the availability and location of different assets can help plan procedures accordingly. The data platform delivers warnings if pallets are running low or there are too many for proper storage. Mobile tools make asset auditing simple. Consistent physical inventory counts prevent missing or stolen materials from going unnoticed. 

Marking shelving layout with barcode tags
Physical locations can also be labeled with barcodes. Warehouse floors, bins and shelves can use markers so data capture tools can check the locations of objects against system designations.

WiseGeek advised companies to label bins with barcode tags to ensure materials are in the correct space. When an inventory worker places a product on a shelf or returns a pallet to the warehouse, a barcode scan at the physical location can correspond to a scan of the object to make certain everything is where it should be. The facility layout should be designed for optimum performance, location-based data reporting gives managers the oversight needed to make sure layouts are followed. 

Mobile scanners report data to a centralized ERP solution. The software system should be designed with daily warehouse practices in mind. If a company wishes to use different barcode labels for inventory, tools and locations, the system needs to recognize each unique data signature. A software implementation team should walk a facility with a software partner to determine what objects and locations they should tagged and how.

Warehouse managers should download the Warehouse Mobile Data Dynamics NAV Module Data Sheet to learn more about asset tracking.