Why is Inventory Management Important for the Food Industry?
Having a robust, automated Inventory Management System, also referred as WMS (Warehouse Management System) is imperative to being successful in today’s hyper competitive food processing industry. On the other hand, not having a system in place can be challenging to remain fully compliant with the law and stay competitive in dealing with larger clients.
How Common is the use of Automated Inventory Management Systems in the Food Industry?
The food processing industry has evolved over the past couple of decades. A large shift from a manual inventory management system, such as pen and paper, to a fully automated system, has occured
throughout the food industry. So, if you’re thinking of starting a food processing business or taking your small business to the next level in the food processing industry you should absolutely consider using an automated inventory management system for multiple compelling reasons.
In another blog, I wrote in-depth about what a Warehouse Management System is and its application in the Food & Beverage Industry. You can read it here.
What are the Main Reasons for using WMS in Food Processing Industry?
As a processor grows their operation, they will experience an ever-growing need for a streamlined, efficient, and cost-effective way to manage their inventory. This can only be done by automating the inventory management process. Inventory Management systems provide a comprehensive approach to recall management, visibility, and efficiency. This is done through automated technology that communicates from the plant-floor to the office in real-time.
Reason 1: Recall Management
Recall Management is one of the most important variables that a food processor needs to control within their operation every single day. Food recalls are a serious business threat to meat and poultry processors in North America. Each food recall can carry a heavy cost, and inherently bring large risks that affect the entire business.
An automated inventory management system like the Carlisle Symphony WMS allows a processor to do a quick and comprehensive recall. It is important to have inventory visibility, from raw material receiving to finished goods shipping. This not only adheres to government regulation, but allows a processor to expand their market, meet supplier requirements for larger-scale distributors, and saves time and money.
Moreover, inventory management systems can communicate with members of your supply chain and can provide access to information about the products in real-time. This provides heightened visibility and allows you to track certain shipments, should a problem arise. There is a significant amount of data being shared that can provide insight into safety, shipping, and overstock issues.
Inventory management systems not only enhance Recall Management standards, but they also amplify a processor’s ability to perform sales and order fulfillment.
Reason 2: Enhanced Sales & Order Fulfillment Processes
Having detailed and real-time insight into inventory for sales and order fulfillment is paramount in the food processing industry. In a manual system, sales reps are forced to go through handwritten logs of inventory records to look for available quantity, oldest product, and other identifying variables to fulfill this order. This would then need to be communicated to the operators on the plant-floor to pick the product from the correct location and manually record the change. This system is prone to a litany of different operational flaws. These includes:
- Brain Fog
- Illegible Handwriting
- Miscounting Product
Mistakes are inevitable and can happen across multiple touch points along the operation. For a small-scale operation, these errors can only be managed for so long. As a processor grows, its processes need to adapt to this growth.
An automated inventory management system drastically reduces these mistakes by combining a robust back-end software system that communicates with plant-floor hardware in real-time.
Barcoding and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology support inventory management by making the picking process more efficient. Inventory should be organized with barcoded storage locations and item numbers, which can be especially helpful for distributors with multiple warehouse locations. Systems that provide available information across all locations allow distributors to fulfill orders more quickly.
This provides the office with real-time visibility into accurate inventory levels. Inventory reports by location, warehouse, and movement within the facility allow the office to check inventory levels in real-time. Cycle counting, utilizing a FIFO system, and having controls such as QA locks are standard features that provide a processor with complete inventory control.
With an automated inventory management system, sales reps have the ability to create new and future orders based on accurate real-time information on consumable inventory. Sales reps can release the order down to the plant-floor to be picked and view progress on picking in real-time from a serialized inventory and location. The sales rep can then review the order, assign a truck to the order, and print off necessary paperwork such as a Bill of Lading, Manifest, Packing Slip, etc.
Not only does the inventory management system aid in the sales and order fulfillment process, but it enhances a food processor’s efficiency and productivity.
Reason 3: WMS Improves Efficiency and Productivity in Food Industry
With the right inventory management software at their disposal, procurement managers are able to integrate their inventory data with their supplier’s availability. This ensures that lead times are kept to a minimum and the lines of communication are open, clear, and free of misinterpretation. This leads to a decrease in an under or oversupply of inventory. Having an accurate inventory will reduce waste and also prevent delays in production due to inventory being out of stock.
Gain Full Visibility on All High-Risk Products in Your Inventory
When dealing with a product that has a short shelf-life, it is vital that inventory managers have the ability to track, trace and account for each inventory item. Visibility into the supply chain is exactly what an effective inventory management software solution is tasked to achieve.
Total visibility into the movement of each inventory item through the supply chain creates a ripple effect that generates greater efficiency and value along every touchpoint – from demand forecasting, through purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, and sales.
Gain Locate Items in Real-Time
Being able to locate each inventory item in real-time leads to a significant reduction in loss as a result of mismanaged, misplaced, and mishandled inventory.
Inventory can be kept at optimal levels thereby insulating the business against the risk of overstock and understock issues. These issues include: expired inventory, tied-up cash flow, missed sales due to stock-outs, and off-target forecasting and purchasing.
Optimize Shipping and Receiving Items
Inventory management systems can communicate with members of your supply chain and can provide access to information about inventory products in real-time. This provides heightened visibility and allows you to track certain shipments if a problem arises. There is a significant amount of data being shared that can provide insight into safety, shipping, and overstock issues.
Barcoding and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology support inventory management by making the picking process more efficient. Inventory should be organized with barcoded storage locations and item numbers, which can be especially helpful for distributors with multiple warehouse locations. Systems that provide availability information across all locations allow distributors to fulfill orders more quickly.
Processors should look towards an automated inventory management system as a long-term investment that will streamline plant-floor operations, improve back-end operations, and gain critical visibility into lacking areas.
How Carlisle Technology’s Inventory Management system streamlines plant-floor operations
Are you looking for an inventory management system? Look no further than Carlisle Technology’s WMS solution. Symphony’s Warehouse Management (WMS) software enables users to track inventory from receiving through to shipping. With the Order Management Application sales orders can be tracked from the entry of an order through picking, staging, and shipping with a single application screen. For fast and accurate warehouse management, Symphony WMS is an essential piece to any plant management system.
Interested in a demo? We would love to hear from you. Give us a call and our experts can help guide you through the WMS and implementation process.
Written by: Joe O’Keefe, Account Manager – Carlisle Technology
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