How to Make Every Minute Count in Your Distribution Center?

Time is money in your distribution center

Efficiency is critical while running a distribution center. Wasted time translates to wasted effort, unused space, and inefficiencies in labor. Considering that the core value added by a distribution center is holding material, time and effort become the most significant contributors to cost. Optimizing these two factors is the key to making the most of the distribution center. Time-related efficiency can be affected by several parameters like:

  • Cost of unused duration

Maximizing holding time and minimizing material movement or handling are some of the primary objectives of any warehouse. A warehouse can only charge its customers or beneficiaries for the utilized duration. The duration for which the space is unused has a direct impact on the revenue. But that is not all. Operational expenses like utilities, rent, and labor continue to accrue while the space lies unused. It is a double whammy.

  • Inefficiencies in storage and retrieval impacts throughput

Material or stock moving through the distribution center usually goes through a six-step process. Inward docking – unloading – storing – retrieving – loading – dispatch. Most of these stages contribute to what Lean Process Experts call a “Muda Waste.” This means that these processes are essential but are considered to contribute to inefficiency as they do not add value to the business. For example, a delay in inward docking can cause new arrivals bottlenecks. Timely docking and unloading can minimize wait times and the associated logistics costs.

  • Unavailability of equipment

Equipment enables efficiency in material handling and material movement. Such equipment includes forklifts, ladders, scissor lifts, hoists, conveyors, drives, and other machinery that facilitate the transit between the dock and the storage space. If such equipment is unavailable, it brings material mobility to a grinding halt. “A faulty $100 barcode scanner can misplace consignments worth millions.”  This is another example where the resulting idle time costs money to the distribution center and results in a loss of revenue.

Harnessing the power of technology to save time

Time is a critical resource that can affect the revenue and profitability of a distribution center. Thankfully, technology can drive efficiency that helps distribution centers make the best use of time in the various aspects of their operations. Different hardware, software, and process combinations can help minimize waste, improve utilization, and increase the throughput of the material handled in the center. Some of these are discussed here.

Inventory tracking

Tracking the arrival and consumption of inventory can help maintain continuity in the processes that depend on the warehouse for their operations. Reorder levels, and buffer quantities are essential to avoid delays due to unavailable stock. But maintaining too much buffer is expensive and comes with a lot of wasted space and costs associated with material handling. Inventory management solutions can help address this by providing information about the optimal reorder levels.

Asset management

As discussed earlier in this article, there are a lot of assets that are used in the distribution center. They include material handling equipment, power systems, storage racks, lighting equipment, cold storage equipment, and several others. Asset management solutions can track all such assets and establish a transparent chain of custody. This encourages users to surrender unused assets to be available for others who may need them. Asset management also ensures prompt maintenance that can prevent downtime due to unplanned outages or equipment failures. This ensures no time is wasted waiting for equipment to be returned or repaired. “After all, labor is valuable when it is busy on the production floor, not while in a queue waiting for equipment.”

Device management

The modern warehouse uses a lot of electronic devices for smooth operations. Supervisors and technicians use tablet PCs to update the status of the material. Tag printers and handheld scanners are used for digitizing material information for easy processing. These devices must be checked for proper usage, timely maintenance, and Over-The-Air (OTA) updates. Device management systems help track, monitor, maintain, and upgrade such devices remotely. Centralized device management helps cut idle time on the floor due to unavailable or malfunctioning electronic devices.

Interoperable Systems and Peripherals

Inventory management, asset management, and device management are enterprise-level technology applications that help reduce waste time in a distribution center. However, when they operate in silos, there is no flow of intelligence between different systems. This results in the loss of valuable information and insights that can still cause disruption to the flow of material. Moreover, peripherals like barcode printers, handheld scanners, keycards, tablet PCs, and workstations need to capture, digitize, and share information with the enterprise systems.

With dispersed warehouses or remote-control centers, it also becomes vital to have cloud-based connectivity. With so many moving parts and data custodians, there is no longer a single source of truth that provides accurate, real-time visibility to the center’s operations. Hence it is crucial to have a seamless solution consisting of enterprise systems, physical equipment, and cloud infrastructure to ensure an efficient distribution center.

An effortless way to accomplish this would be by working with a solution provider with end-to-end connectivity across all these systems. A case in point is IDS’s VendSafety solution. Between supply dispensers and lockers, VendSafety provides an easy, efficient inventory management solution. The cloud software iQ Technology connects all the disparate hardware that needs connectivity through common workflows tailored to the needs of each delivery center. Finally, reports and notifications can be viewed on any device using a simple web interface secured by administrators to allow access only to certain users. This combination of hardware, software, and reporting ensures an efficient distribution center.

Conclusion

Distribution centers form an integral part of the supply chain for several industries. Their efficiency has an impact on the efficiency of other businesses that are reliant on them. While several factors can affect the efficiency of such centers, technology can be used to address the factors that can cause delays or waste of time.

But the key to this success is the ability of different pieces of technology to interoperate rather than work in disparate silos. Our experts at IDS can consult with you to help build the right solution for your distribution center to help you make every minute count. Click here or talk to us at 1-866-853-1935 to know more.

Tips and Tricks to Track and Manage Your Organization’s Inventory

 

idsvending.com - Tips and Tricks to Track and Manage Your Organization's Inventory

A well-managed inventory is key to successful operations. If you are looking for ways to take your business to a new level, an inventory management system can help. An inventory management system will streamline your supply chain processes and keep you organized. This article discusses different inventory management tips to help you track and control your supplies more effectively.

Categorize Inventory Carefully: Inventory categorizing is crucial when dealing with physical goods because it safeguards your profit margins and reduces the risk of write-offs and losses from spoilt stock inventory. It also marks the initial stage in demand forecasting, increased costs, supply chain optimization, and the slight decrease of obsolete inventory. 

By organizing your inventory into different categories, you may quickly determine which items need to be purchased more frequently. It helps identify the quantities and priority of items required for smooth operations in a business. Experts recommend categorizing your inventory into A, B, and C categories. Items in the A category are more expensive and in limited supply. Low-cost, high-turnover products fall under the C group. Items in the B category are in the middle; they are reasonably priced and move out of the door slower than C items but more rapidly than A items. An ABC analysis is an efficient approach for a business to assess the worth of its stock and inventory. Using specialized software can further streamline the inventory management process. 

Track Your Inventory Accurately with Real-Time Data: Understanding the status of an organization’s inventory is essential for achieving efficiency and speed in operations today. Warehouse Management System (WMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Material Requirements Planning (MRP) systems are three inventory management solutions. You may not need to utilize all three, but they perform best when combined. A WMS system helps keep track of your current inventory levels. It can also decrease human error and increase efficiency by automating your inventory management processes.

An ERP system is best for tracking your production schedule, ensuring you produce enough finished goods to meet demand. Making sure you have the correct quantity of items can help you avoid waste. This can be accomplished by setting up a replenishment process that tracks your inventory levels and produces a schedule to order materials. An MRP system may be used to track any timing issues in your supply chain. This can help avoid any stock-outs, which can cause a lot of disruption to your business. 

Set up a Replenishment Process to Avoid Wastage: Replenishment is one of the most important aspects of inventory management. You may have the perfect number of items, but if you do not order more when they run out, you will be out of stock. This is where a replenishment process comes into play. Use the (first in, first out) process when managing commodities that can spoil, such as materials, food products, chemicals, pharmaceutical inventory, or other items with a dated shelf life. To prevent spoilage, pay close attention to the expiration dates on your products. There are several ways to automate your replenishment process. You can set up digital barcoding and GPS-enabled RFID tags to increase security against loss and theft. This will also provide immediate inventory alerts, notifications, and real-time tracking. Another option is to create a manual system, where a person manually orders materials when needed. Always ensure that your system is based on accurate data. If your inventory is inaccurate, you will order more products than you need, resulting in extra costs and waste.

Invest in Inventory Management Software: There will undoubtedly be some challenges as you manage your inventory. Timely detection of these issues enables you to address them as quickly as possible. A problem with your system or data input practices may cause erroneous inventory data. You must find a solution if your system is not configured correctly, or your data is input incorrectly. The easiest way to solve these issues is by investing in inventory software. Inventory software automates many of the manual processes, which can reduce human error. It can also track the data, so you can make sure your system is accurate. Most companies purchase inventory management systems or use specially created databases to manage their inventories. The supplier can modify the database with inventory management software to meet their specific and overall business requirements. 

Complete Asset Tracking and Inventory Management Solution: Asset tracking systems can help with the entire inventory management process by making it easier to track inventory assets. Asset inventory management tracks all equipment and devices inside an organization – from one location to another. Managing your inventory is challenging and time-consuming but is critical to running a successful organization. 

An efficient inventory management automation program simplifies implementation by using a single vendor for hardware, software, and support. Intelligent Dispensing Solutions offers all the required hardware, software, and support to help you regain control of your inventory. IDS offers not only the most feature-rich inventory management solution but also the most comprehensive solution by a single provider. Call us today to know more.

Utilizing lockers and dispensing equipment to access office supplies is more than just an asset management initiative.

The benefits of utilizing lockers and dispensing equipment - idsvending.com

Resource availability and its impact on the modern office environment

Timely availability of necessary office supplies is essential for a business to maximize productivity. Sometimes missing a $40 computer mouse can ruin everything when deadlines are tight. Not having the necessary IT and office supplies can also lead to unplanned downtime, a.k.a. waiting. The Ponemon Institute’s annual report concludes that the average cost of downtime could be anywhere between $137 a minute for small businesses to $17,244 a minute for large corporations. [1]

The cost of lost productivity is just one of the impacts of unavailable office resources. Approximately one out of every eight employees who participated in a Paychex survey claimed to be very dissatisfied when they felt they had too much downtime. [2] Safety-related supplies and materials can impact the well-being and morale of the workforce, too.

Addressing these and other potential challenges due to inadequate supply of resources can be easily overcome using controlled dispensing solutions. This article discusses the benefits of smart inventory management technology like Supply Lockers and Supply Dispensers for the modern office environment.

Controlled dispensing as a solution to resource availability challenges

Controlled dispensing solutions can provide access to necessary resources by validating the user based on prox cards, barcodes, keypad and mag stripes. This ensures timely access to supplies for employees instead of waiting at a help desk or for IT to respond to their request. This also allows the business to track the consumption of supplies by employee, department, branch, or any other level of designated personnel.

A comprehensive smart inventory management solution has two essential components – hardware and software. The hardware consists of Supply Lockers and Supply Dispensers that hold the supplies. The software layer is the backend brain behind the hardware. In our case, iQ Technology software sets access workflows, product restrictions, as well as alerts and reporting. There are several applications for controlled dispensing in an office environment. Some of them are listed below:

  • Service Desks

IT support professionals are busy fending off external attacks, evaluating device performance, asset monitoring, network connectivity and other essential tasks for business continuity. Providing IT supplies to employees who need them is important, yet does not require the skills of a trained IT expert. Controlled dispensing can help eliminate service desks and free up valuable IT bandwidth.

  • Procurement Systems

Efficient businesses are always in the pursuit of maintaining the right level of inventory. Purchase departments are tasked with ensuring the availability of necessary materials while keeping the cost of inventory as minimal as possible. Inventory management modules of controlled dispensing solutions help maintain an optimum amount of supplies in stock. The solution can provide real-time information about reorder levels that help maintain the best amount of inventory.

Benefits of Controlled Dispensing

Controlled dispensing solutions deliver direct benefits to IT support desks, procurement departments and employees. Factors like business continuity, operational efficiency, and real-time insights create value for large organizations. This translates to business benefits like:

  • Profitability

Businesses can enjoy cost savings and operational efficiency by using controlled dispensing technology. Lockers enabled with inventory management software can track and optimize the usage of assets. Shrinkage due to hoarding, loss, and expiration can be avoided by implementing controlled dispensing technology.

  • Accountability

iQ Technology software makes sure only designated individuals can access certain supplies. Administrators can track who is taking what items, when and how many. The system establishes a transparent chain of custody for valuable assets and drives accountability at all levels.

  • Reliability

Supply Lockers and Supply Dispensers can improve resource availability. This creates a reliable process and eliminates resource-related uncertainties. Automated alerts about PAR levels can preempt purchases to avoid unplanned downtime.

  • Efficiency

Controlled dispensing minimizes downtime and keeps employees on task. It also reduces human effort, freeing up bandwidth for more important activities. By minimizing downtime, the inventory management component of the dispensing solutions improves the efficiency of capital utilization. The availability of real-time information about resources allows for better workload planning. 

  • Safety

Controlled dispensing results in fewer touchpoints, decreasing the likelihood of transmitting viruses and bacteria. This will translate to a safer workplace in the age of fast-spreading contagions. 

  • User Experience

Employees can now avoid the need to line up to collect essential supplies. Frustration that arises due to the unavailability of the necessary tools and supplies for day-to-day operations can be avoided with dispensing equipment. Employees can plan better with the help of real-time visibility and inventory alerts, to keep on hand the tools and resources that are essential for executing their responsibilities.

Conclusion

Controlled dispensing solutions can deliver value across the entire organization. Different stakeholders like production employees, IT support teams, procurement divisions, administrations and maintenance departments participate in the flow of inventory and the value creation process. Dispensing technology delivers value to all these stakeholders by ensuring the availability of resources and acting as a single source for all inventory-related information.

Implementing the proper hardware and software is the key to realizing these benefits. IDS has helped large Fortune 100 businesses and small enterprises harness the power of controlled dispensing technology to achieve business benefits.

Talk to our experts at 1-855-459-4536 to learn how we can get you started on empowering your office with the best controlled dispensing and inventory management solutions.

Selecting the right solution for cloud-based asset management

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Selecting The Right Solution For Cloud-Based Asset Management

Moving from an on-premise asset management solution to a cloud-based asset management platform is no longer a question of if, but how. The arguments in favor of on-premise solutions include security, data integrity, and control over uptime. However, giant strides in cybersecurity have enabled secure cloud-based asset management services, minimizing the number and seriousness of such attacks. Redundancy and advanced load balancing systems have improved the reliability of cloud-based asset management solutions, but the key to the successful adoption of a cloud-based solution lies in identifying the right solution provider. This is because, unlike on-premise solutions, a cloud-based solution is not a capital investment, but an ongoing relationship with a reliable technology partner. However, selecting such a partner is not rocket science when consideration is given to the following parameters.

Physical-To-Digital-To-Cloud Capabilities

Data is created in both physical and digital transactions. A simple product checkout at a storeroom involves a physical transaction. A barcode scan of the released product involves a digital transaction. The data from both these transactions must reach the cloud without distortion and as quickly as possible. This example clarifies that successful implementation of a cloud-based asset management solution is only possible when the solution has full-spectrum capabilities. It involves acquiring data about a physical transaction, converting it into digital data, and communicating with the cloud.

Similarly, it involves insights from the cloud analytics module pushed to digital devices like mobile phones or desktop computers, which the user understands to act in the physical world. Such end-to-end capabilities involve hardware, application software, cloud software platform, and user-interface applications. A solutions provider who can deliver all these components can give you better results than working with vendors of each disparate component.

For example, our iQ Technology-driven Virtual Tracker application helps diverse organizations maintain their inventory levels remotely through their solutions that cover the dispensing machines and their software backends. Office admins and IT departments can now keep a close eye on how office inventory is being consumed and make replenishments and purchase decisions accordingly.

Interoperability With Existing Enterprise Systems

One of the critical challenges of adopting an enterprise application is interoperability with existing systems. Complex interoperability with your procurement software, ERP, MRP, and CRM can make the adoption a headache for all participants across departments and functions. Moreover, interoperability allows the usage of a common dataset. This helps provide a single source of truth that is much more reliable and insightful than using data that can be distorted in transition due to manual porting. Lastly, seamless integration of the asset management solution with other enterprise systems can help reduce the time for information flow and accelerate decision-making. It also provides cross-functional intelligence to decision-makers enabling a well-informed decision-making process. 

The IDS Virtual Tracker application brings a secure and accessible back-end solution through seamless API integration. With Virtual Tracker as your inventory management solution, you will have access to real-time hard inventory data. this data will also be available for other business and operational applications used in accounting, finance, and procurement to help with better decision-making through relevant inventory intelligence.

Device And Hardware Agnostic

Another reason why businesses run into challenges with the implementation and adoption of asset management solutions is the dependence on devices and hardware interfaces. Suppose the asset management platform data is not accessible on multiple devices like desktop computers, mobile devices, or on-the-floor display panels. In that case, it diminishes the versatility of the application. Responsiveness of the application for multiple form factors is a must-have. Data from any barcode reader, card reader, or keypad must be usable by the application software. The significance of the data is not dependent on the source, so why should your asset management refuse to work with any?

 Proven Expertise In Dispensing, Collection, And Storage Solutions

Asset management is not just software. After all, it is used to manage the handling of physical goods in the real world. Only a vendor who has a complete understanding of dispensing, collection and storage processes can provide a holistic solution that manages all aspects of material movement in your business. Such providers understand the constraints associated with managing assets rather than treating them as bits of data, but that is just not it. 

Solution providers, like IDS, who have a complete understanding of the asset management process will also accelerate the implementation of your product. They will be able to look around corners and advise on what is to be avoided without expensive experiments. Our range of software packages are designed to help organizations in asset management that helps deliver high-quality products and services while reducing operations costs. 

Multi-Channel Alerts And Escalation Capabilities

The true benefit of a cloud-based asset management solution is realized when it is accessible anytime and anywhere. For this to happen, the asset management solution should have the ability to communicate through multiple channels. Role-based custom reports may need to be sent by email to the correct recipient regularly. Push notifications on web applications might help bring instant attention to specific events or transactions. If this web application is responsible for multiple devices, tablets and mobile devices become additional channels for communication.

For example, the Virtual Tracker application automates workflows that identify extraordinary events to trigger alerts. Such alerts can ensure timely actions to improve production or prevent unexpected incidents. Alerts can also help make the right business decisions at the right time.

A Trusted Partner, Not Just A Product Seller

A feature-rich solution that meets the above criteria is a good indicator that the solution can help you with your asset management need, but that is not all. The success of cloud-based asset management solutions lies in continuous handholding throughout its usage, constant innovation to meet the changing interfaces, and timely support that avoids frustration. A solution provider who can provide these will be your trusted partner through the ups and downs of successfully implementing a cloud-based asset management solution.

IDS Vending has helped numerous businesses in various industries implement its asset management solution running on its proprietary iQ Technology platform. To know more about how we can help you, visit us at www.idsvending.com or call us at 1-800-771-4446.