What Is the Role of Inventory Management in Supply Chain?

What is inventory management, and why is it so important?

Inventory management refers to the process of ordering, storing and using the company’s goods or materials.

Successfully managing inventory enables companies to meet their consumers’ demand levels with appropriate supply. Ineffective management can lead to excess inventory, leading to the risk of damage, damage, or demand shifts, leading to stock accumulation.

Supply-Chain Inventory Management丨ChinaDivision丨G2-Learning-Hub
Supply-Chain Inventory Management丨ChinaDivision丨G2-Learning-Hub

If the stock is not sold before these events, it is usually sold at the clearance price or destroyed.

 According to a survey by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), nearly 60% of respondents indicated that inventory management is one of the top technical skills in their field.

This is an essential part of keeping the supply chain running smoothly. Effective inventory management requires a reliable technology platform and communication between all relevant parties.

Without inventory management, companies will suffer higher levels of waste and additional storage costs. Without accurate and up-to-date information, it is impossible to communicate with customers about product availability and estimated delivery dates.

How to improve inventory management in the supply chain?

 Effective supply chain management starts with technology. Eliminating traditional human errors can save time and reduce the risk of errors.

Digital operation management makes it easier to share any information recorded in the entire supply chain. If your company has implemented a Transportation Management System (TMS), then you have already optimized the whole supply chain!

 

How-to-improve-inventory-management-in-the-supply-chain丨ChinaDivision丨STORIS
How-to-improve-inventory-management-in-the-supply-chain丨ChinaDivision丨STORIS

Transportation management and warehouse management are two fundamental parts of a successful supply chain.

The Transportation Management System (TMS) handles the movement of products throughout the supply chain and provides the necessary communication platform for carriers, shippers and manufacturers.

The stock management platform focuses on the quantity and type of products in warehouses or other storage facilities. These technologies form the basis for the company to deliver its products to customers as efficiently as possible.

For example, when a company uses TMS to respond quickly to a customer’s order, it will soon move out of the warehouse instead of occupying inventory space. 

The integration of inventory management and TMS can make it easier to track deteriorated or defective inventory. With the help of TMS, warehouse managers can easily track the movement route of products after they leave the warehouse by tracing SKUs.

When an item recalled, the warehouse management team will have all the relevant information needed to find and isolate the defective product. Real-time inventory information will help bridge the gap between inventory management and transportation management.

How to Improve Inventory Tracking?Simple Guidance for You in Inventory Management

With the rapid development of third-party logistics, 3PL‘s advanced inventory management system can save you time and money.

However, for companies with relatively small business volume, in-house management is still required. Choosing the right inventory tracking method can help improve inventory accuracy.

What Are the Types of Inventory?

Before you can improve warehouse management, you need to understand the inventory types accurately. The following are the different types of inventory:

How-to-Improve-Inventory-Tracking?丨Lynda.com丨ChinaDivision
How-to-Improve-Inventory-Tracking?丨Lynda.com丨ChinaDivision
  1. Raw Materials, materials used to manufacture products
  2. Work-in-Progress, unfinished product being produced
  3. Finished Goods, finished goods stored in the warehouse, waiting to be sold or shipped
  4. Overhaul/MRO, maintenance, repair, and operation supplies, items used to support and maintain the production process and its infrastructure. These items are usually consumed due to the production process’s needs but are not directly part of the finished product. MRO inventory includes lubricants, cleaning supplies, gloves, packaging materials, and other supplies. It also consists of some office supplies, such as staples, pencils, copy paper, etc.
  5. Transit Inventory, the items have been loaded and are in transit.
  6. Anticipation Inventory, to meet the expected surge in sales inventory
  7. Decoupling Inventory, supplies, or products reserved in anticipation of stagnation in some production links
  8. Cycle Inventory, products shipped from a manufacturer or supplier to a company, and then sold to customers immediately
  9. Theoretical Inventory, the inventory rate in and outreaches a balanced ideal state, and inventory products can pass through the manufacturing system’s minimum stock without waiting. But in reality, the warehouse will always have some inventory (such as MRO inventory, decoupling inventory, etc.)

What inventory tracking method is the optimal solution?

Manual tracking

You must complete the inventory count for the outbound and inbound warehouse inventory in the manual tracking system. Besides, any updates to inventory records require manual operations. You can manually copy the item number and any other relevant details, but this inventory tracking method can be time-consuming and has a higher error rate. But one advantage is that you don’t have to pay for barcode scanners and other expensive equipment.

Barcode and QR code tracking

Bar codes or QR codes are commonly used in inventory tracking. The inventory system automatically extracts detailed information by scanning the product barcode or QR. The administrator can quickly and easily change the information in the system. This inventory tracking method can achieve efficient inventory management, so 3PL service providers usually recommend this method.

RFID tracking

As with barcode and QR code tracking, you can use RFID tracking to scan products and automatically extract their detailed information. The main difference between RFID and other scannable codes is the technology behind them. RFID tags scan more comprehensively, so they are very useful for inventory systems that move many products. However, only a few inventory management software supports RFID tracking because it requires specialized (expensive) tags and scanning equipment.

Why Is a Warehouse Management System So Important?

Warehouse Management System (WMS) is the cornerstone of logistics system. WMS constitutes the internal system of a logistics company and can be highly configured to control and manage storage, distribution, and other aspects. A powerful WMS is needed for an organization to conduct effective and productive operations, including inventory balance, material management, delivery process, and review.

If you lack an effective warehouse management system, it is impossible to obtain a well-functioning logistics system. Effective WMS involves using a set of customized solutions to achieve a smooth workflow, not just data or storage processing.

Warehouse-Management-System丨DataConsult丨ChinaDivision
Warehouse-Management-System丨DataConsult丨ChinaDivision

The Importance of the Warehouse Management System

  1. Inventory accuracy

For inventory management, one of the challenges most companies face is how to maintain inventory accuracy. Inventory management systems can help you manage inventory better, faster, and easier. You can reduce the order cycle time and improve the number of orders WMS will help you adjust inventory levels by using real-time tracking of inventory changes. You can better understand the products in the warehouse and you can better track any changes required. Respond quickly to customer needs and inquiries, and can provide customers with a better customer experience.

  1. Centralized warehouse location

The warehouse management system saves a lot of time and cost by obtaining a centralized storage location. WMS overcomes the production gap based on the real-time inventory situation, so as to easily carry out storage, transportation, and distribution. You can even quickly find suppliers and target markets, so you can continuously move in and out of goods to ensure the continuity of the company’s logistics system.

  1. Improve product quality

WMS’s effective inventory quality and management will improve your production quality. You can keep up-to-date with vendors and suppliers, and better track the shelf life of raw materials or products. So you are now easier to deal with defective products and guarantee the high quality of the products.

By improving product quality, you can not only ensure high-quality service but also improve order processing. An efficient warehouse management system can improve production quality, and WMS’s control over the production speed, efficiency, and quality of products will give you great confidence in promoting the company’s products.

  1. Formulate marketing strategy for shopping season

You can take full advantage of festivals or other shopping seasons to expand your business. Since the production process can be tracked through real-time information, you can also analyze and track customer consumption behavior. WMS can better help deal with customer problems and reduce the risk of customer complaints and negative reviews.

Therefore, you can take advantage of increased growth to increase operations without paying additional fees. This means you will get new opportunities to reach higher sales. By having the right warehouse management system, you can now sell more products and increase profits, which means a high return on investment.

  1. Risk Management

In response to changes in demand and supply and to minimize losses, WMS highlights its importance. You can deal with risks through changes in product demand changes, and you can also bring sales decisions by considering sudden increases or decreases in product market prices.

You can improve your purchasing decision while replenishing suitable inventory. Therefore, you can check inventory at any time to better meet the needs of delivered products. Logistics warehousing also provides you with additional storage space to meet future needs.

An effective WMS ensures improved inventory control and management, which means you can ensure the safety of your goods and avoid product deterioration, theft, or accidents.

However, you must choose an effective software solution, and you must also consider the key functions of warehouse and logistics.