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How to digitalise your warehouse and track your inventory better

We live in a very versatile and multifaceted world where everything is connected but is that really so? It’s a statement which is constantly expressed wherever we are, yet this may not be a true reflection of reality. For instance, let us imagine being in a large warehouse, where the items are literally stacked up to the roof and where the mobile signal is very weak, let alone having a 4G or 5G connection. When looking at this scenario we are faced with a different truth from the one that is overly-stated, maybe our world is not yet fully adapted to mobility. Having said so, this should not stop us from considering investing in the right technology to facilitate remote working, allowing for staff to work form wherever they are. But let’s first of all ask some key questions.


 

Do you have necessary hardware?


Whilst some may boast that they have purchased the hardware years ago, this may not always be a positive sign. Some past huge investments may have been way too huge and too early, so much so, that they are no longer useful in this day and age. Thus, we need to consider whether the necessary hardware, such as tablets, are already available and if so whether they have the right features.



What kind of warehouse are you dealing with?


A warehouse can be hugely different from the one next door, and therefore the requirements may be extremely different. A warehouse where the items are unreachable is very different from the ones where we are dealing with small packets at eye-level. On the other hand a warehouse where the items are so small that they cannot be counted is a very different warehouse where the items are carried by a fork-lifter.


How many products?


Dealing with a couple of hundred items is extremely different from dealing with a couple of thousands or perhaps twenty thousand items. From a technical point of view the number of items is quite irrelevant but from a user perspective the challenge is extremely different. When dealing with a large number of stocks, some of which are extremely similar we need to analyse how the user will get to identify the stock item. We can consider using QR codes, or RFID’s or simple barcodes. Whatever the case we need to analyse how the user will get to recognise the items.


Moreover the number of new items created as well as the frequency at which this is done, will also heavily impact the operations-aspect of this process. The more new items we have, the better it may be for the sales people, but the larger is the headache for the warehouse stuff.


Do you have adequate internet connection?


The internet connection plays a very significant role in the choice of what system to opt for. We have grown to take for granted a constant internet connectivity but for some locations the only constant thing is the volatility of the internet connectivity. In such instances, we need to ponder the idea of having a strong wifi connection, taking into consideration those corners where a wifi can be tricky. The other option may be to identify a solution which has an in-built offline mode, thus allowing us to work even when the internet is not available.


Do you have an ERP solution?


One final thing to consider is the ERP solution. The mobile solution is not the final product but simply a means to an end, i.e., ensuring a more efficient data capturing process within the Warehouse. This means that beyond the warehouse matters we also need to look into our ERP solution and understand how the mobile solution will be connecting to our ERP System. When speaking of connection, we are not only referring to figures but also to a huge amount of data that has to be transferred from one solution to the other. In most cases the following data will be transferred between the two systems:


  • Items

  • Item Variants

  • Item Unit of Measures

  • Warehouse

  • Warehouse Employees

  • Shipments Due

  • Shipments Received

  • Stock-Take Results

  • Stock Transfers Requests

  • Stock Transfers Shipped and Received




Conclusion


A mobile solution can possibly be a game changer for many companies, however the path to choosing the right solution may not be that straightforward. In any case what we ask from the decision-maker is to listen attentively to what the warehouse staff has to say as they are the ultimate system users, with the right knowledge to spot any issues from the early stages of the project. Once the right solution is selected, it can be the start of a whole new era where efficiency and cost savings will reign.

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