Saturday, September 13, 2014

Technology and Inventory Management

The articles assigned for this week covered different problems that inventory management faces. From the use of manpower to ensure shelves are stocked to the bullwhip effect of changes in consumer demand and preferences, it is clear that inventory management requires constant attention and improvement. Learning about big retailers like Wal-Mart and the problems they face, I became interested in how small businesses use technology to ensure their inventory is managed efficiently.
            Forbes did a feature on the five best inventory mobile applications that are available for use by small businesses in place of the often expensive inventory management soft systems that larger companies have. Inventory Tracker, available for iPad, is a tracking system that helps companies manage their products throughout their life cycle. The app utilizes SynCloud in order for the data to be properly synched across multiple devices. Below are screenshots of the app[1]:

iPad Screenshot 1iPad Screenshot 3

Two applications that are slightly more sophisticated are Lettuce and JumpStock. Lettuce allows users to integrate systems utilized for order capturing, payment processing, shipping, tracking, customer relationship management and more.[2] As is with most current apps, Lettuce purports the convenience of a cloud-based system. JumpStock is more interactive as an inventory management application, and iGeeks Blog states it as almost as if a human were on the other end of the application. Jumpstock advertises real time purchasing updates and state of the art cost cutting technologies.2 
            Inventory management in healthcare is of utmost concern today. As hospitals find innovative ways to cut down on their costs, it is clear that using lean management techniques to handle inventory of medical supplies can greatly benefit the bottom line. RFID technologies are used expansively in many different industries but are starting to take hold in healthcare as well.[3] Because many hospitals lack real-time updates and accurate inventory tracking, there are losses incurred from expired or obsolete products. The introduction of RFID tags would not only enable more accurate inventory management but also lead to the elimination of waste that lean management stands for.
Overall, the use of technologies the aid in inventory management means that there will be more data accumulated. So wouldn’t increased use of technology help to enable forecasting methods? More data and digitalized methods would theoretically allow companies to improve their forecasting methods every three to six months as Bain suggests in the reading. It will be interesting to see how the adoption of technology tools will create a more streamlined and efficient manner of inventory management, and thereby better the overall supply chain.


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