Effective inventory management is key to an efficient, well-run warehouse, which in turn leads to faster order fulfillment and improved customer service.
But what makes for good inventory management? In this blog, we break down the six steps to success.
What is inventory management?
Warehouse inventory management is the process by which stock stored in a warehouse is received, tracked, audited and managed for order fulfillment.
By focusing on the organization and tracking of warehouse stock in storage, as well as how quickly certain items are sold. It enables warehouse operators to manage incoming and outgoing products, while maintaining and controlling what is held in stock through replenishment and refreshment.
Effective warehouse inventory management enables fast, efficient order fulfillment, allowing operators to meet client SLAs with ease.
Six steps to effective inventory management
If optimized inventory management is the goal, then the following six steps are how you get there:
1. Organize your warehouse space
2. Categorize your warehouse stock
3. Count everything
4. Implement security
5. Look after your staff
6. Optimize picking processes
Let’s look at each of those steps in a little more detail…
Effective inventory management: Step 1 – Organize your space
Effective inventory management starts with appropriate organization of the physical warehouse space.
It should be clearly divided into different areas of operation and according to the speed at which different products usually move through the warehouse.
The right warehouse storage solutions will help to make best use of the space you have available.
Read more: Find out how PALLITE™ PIX™ warehouse shelving units could increase the capacity of your warehouse by consolidating pick locations, freeing up under-used space.
It’s also a good idea to allow for flexibility in times of peak demand or in the event of unexpected events, retaining some spare warehouse storage capacity in case it is needed.
Effective inventory management: Step 2 – Categorize your warehouse stock
Categorize the different types of stock you hold according to how fast they move through your warehouse, then use those categories to plan different processes to handle those items most effectively.
Fast-moving items should be located close to the picking and packing area for increased pick efficiency, and all items – but particularly hazardous or delicate products – must be safely and securely housed to prevent damage and deterioration. Any items that are or become damaged within the warehouse should be promptly identified and moved to a dedicated area for assessment and rework.
Warehouse racking and pick bins should allow adequate access for personnel and – if necessary – vehicles, to enable safe and easy picking.
Finally, stock items should be regularly rotated, to avoid the build-up of older or outdated items.
Effective inventory management: Step 3 – Count everything
Effective inventory warehouse management entails always knowing how much and what stock you have on site and in motion at any one time.
All items should be tagged with a label, product number or barcode, including items kept in outside storage locations. Special quality marks may be placed on sealed packages detailing how many items are in a single crate or pallet. All shipping and receiving documentation must be processed as soon as possible.
Where physical counts are carried out, shipments should be temporarily suspended during counting and “Do Not Inventory” labels used for any stock that is not to be included in the physical count, including items received into the warehouse during the counting process.
Effective inventory management: Step 4 – Implement security
The next step in effective inventory management is, of course, to ensure the stock you hold is always kept safe and secure, as well as protected from various hazards.
Fire safety measures and security systems such as intruder alarms should be properly installed within the warehouse premises and regularly tested to ensure they are operating effectively. CCTV cameras and other security measures will also help prevent workers from being tempted to remove any high value or desirable items for their own use.
Maintaining appropriate environmental conditions through air conditioning, temperature management and humidity control will also help to avoid sensitive stock becoming spoiled in storage. Likewise, warehouse managers are advised to put in place appropriate spill control measures to contain spills and leaks that could threaten stock.
Effective inventory management: Step 5 – Look after your staff
Your employees are your best asset, so ensure you have enough of them to fulfill the workload without placing undue stress on your team.
Look after their wellbeing, providing them with suitable, good quality protective clothing and PPE as well as the proper equipment for safely lifting and moving heavy items.
Ensure employee training is kept up to date so that everyone knows the proper safety, security and handling procedures, how to stack and locate stock correctly, how to use on-site lifting equipment, and how to manage the storage of delicate and hazardous items.
Effective warehouse inventory management: Step 6 – Optimize processes
Where possible, technology could be used to automate and optimize repetitive tasks and processes that may be prone to human error.
Automated robotic or semi-robotic systems can speed up the process of unpacking shipments and putting inventory into the right warehouse stock locations, while digitization of stock management removes the need for a daily physical count.
PALLITE™ PIX™: Enabling effective warehouse inventory management
At PALLITE™ Group, we have designed a range of warehouse storage solutions that can assist warehouse managers and operators in effective and efficient inventory management.
PALLITE™ PIX™ and PIX™ SLOTS industrial warehouse shelving units allow for consolidation of pick locations into a single pallet space, with SKUs clearly divided and securely housed for optimized picking. Meanwhile, their flat shelf edges offer ample space for labels and barcodes.
Made from recycled paper cardboard that slots together in minutes and folds flat when no longer required, PALLITE™ PIX™ and SLOTS is the ultimate flexible, sustainable warehouse shelving system for modern warehouses.