Accurate Inventory Maintenance: Tactics That Work

“To have and to hold” is a great romantic sentiment, but it’s the last thing you want to do with your inventory. Ideally, you would move stock so fast that you’d need to keep almost nothing on hand in your distribution center. Since few companies can expect to get anywhere near that blissful state, the next best thing to do is manage inventory so well that you always know exactly what you have and where to find it in the warehouse. AHN Corporation, a warehouse solutions provider, offers proven techniques to dramatically improve inventory control. Here are a few key steps:

Set goals. Determine what you want to achieve. For example, how many stock-outs do you have on a daily basis? And how many would you consider acceptable? Decide on that number, and work toward attaining it.

Develop and use stock check cards.Whether your system is automated or manual, you must establish a procedure for warehouse staff to identify and report problems. Try a “Stock Check” form that lists the order number, picker’s name, date, product code, and reason for filling out the form. If an item is backordered, for instance, a stock check form should accompany it.

Clean and organize your warehouse. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. How can you count inventory if your facility is in chaos? Create a simple aisle maintenance sheet—and check it daily.

Throw out non-stocks and dead inventory. The only sensible thing to do with useless inventory is to get rid of it. If you hate to dump those cartons of purple smocks, just remember that they’re worth less each day you keep them on the shelves!

Conduct an annual warehouse “physical.” This should be an organized, focused procedure; don’t suddenly give your staff a pencil and a sheet of paper and tell them to begin counting. Set up count teams; assign them to specific zones; use only warehouse personnel to count; remove all distractions (no talking or music); audit the counts; and correct variances as soon as possible.

Assign someone to monitor reports all year long. That way, you won’t have to tackle them all the week before the annual physical. Keeping tabs on your inventory year-round is the best way to run your operation efficiently and minimize upheavals during the count.

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