A research paper titled “Factory Stores – Manufacturing’s Necessary Evil” revealed many British manufacturers poorly manage their inventory. The report was a collaboration between ERIKS Industrial Services and the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Thirty-six percent of respondents said it took them more than half an hour to locate spare parts in storerooms, and 13 percent said it took them at least two hours.

Of those surveyed, 14 percent said they had no formal store management system in place. Sixteen percent said they still used outdated, manual methods such as spreadsheets, and 13 percent responded, “I don’t know.” Only 30 percent said their company had a customized software solution made specifically for their operations.

Obsolescence proved to be a problem as well. Many respondents reported having old or badly stored stock, but only 34 percent had software to manage how long items had been in their warehouses. Another 34 percent said they had no method of monitoring the time inventory sat in storage, while 20 percent reported conducting manual yearly reviews of all their stock. Still, 13 percent said they did not know how they kept track of inventory.

Improving inventory management
Although the survey was only conducted among U.K. manufacturers, the results reveal an unsettling trend. More than half of the respondents rely on older, inefficient methods or have no idea how they keep track of what they have in stock and how long it’s been there. It stands to reason software solutions could alleviate many of the issues manufacturers experience.

Software with results
Getting rid of manual spreadsheet updates and pen-and-paper counts is the first step manufacturers should take to improve their counting process. Comprehensive management software takes data from past counts and sales, using it to reduce overstock and improve order accuracy.

Mobile devices
Modern Materials Handling pointed to mobile devices as an effective way to manage inventory. Their portable nature allows for instant updates, so managers and engineers can make quick decisions and operations can proceed without delay. Conducting a physical inventory count via mobile is also more accurate than conventional paper methods.

Barcodes
Barcoding is one of the most efficient methods of inventory management. Labeling stock with easy-to-print codes and using hand-held devices to scan them drastically reduces the time employees spend counting supplies and product. This improved speed allows manufacturers to conduct counts more frequently, keeping information accurate and up to date.

Interested in simplifying your inventory counts? Download the “Physical Inventory Count Dynamics NAV Module Data Sheet.”