Managing your inventory in 2022 is challenging enough. With unpredictable supply chains, a lack of real-time visibility and workplace changes, many manufacturers are struggling.
That’s where IoT can help.
IoT, or the Internet of Things, refers to hyper-connected technology. It’s about bringing all of your devices online so that you can maintain total control.
In this post, we’re going to be looking at how IoT inventory management can be used in the real world.
8 ways you can use IoT in your inventory management
To start, let’s cover all of the ways that you can use IoT in your inventory management. Below are real-life strategies that you can achieve with simple investments in IoT technology.
Streamline asset tracking
First, IoT inventory management allows you to streamline your asset tracking. Without IoT technology, asset tracking generally involves a lot of manual record-keeping, which can easily go awry.
With IoT, though, you can automate your asset tracking to a high degree. This has several benefits.
For one, it’s less prone to errors. Automated solutions generally run smoothly.
Automation will also provide real-time updates on your assets, allowing you to quickly see where your assets are at a moment’s notice. This frees up time for your employees, too, allowing your manufacturing centre to accomplish more in the same amount of time.
Continuing on from the above point, IoT inventory management is also valuable for asset management. Since IoT technology gives you real-time insights into where assets are located, you can better manage, allocate and track down your assets whenever you need them.
This is a big step up from traditional asset management, where you have limited data at your disposal. This limited data means that you’re going to end up guessing where your assets are and what to do with them. Or, more often, simply avoiding managing them at all.
Asset management is one of the most important responsibilities of a manufacturer, so investing in IoT to benefit this job is a must.
Next, IoT inventory management is a powerful way to optimise your inventory. Too often, businesses are overstocked or understocked. The result of both of these instances is wasted resources. You either have unsold stock taking up valuable space or you’re short on materials that could’ve been used to generate fresh sales.
With the data provided by IoT, you can better optimise this balance and avoid both of these negative outcomes. You’ll have more insight into your supply chain, current trends and your ability to meet those trends.
All of this is key to maximising your profit at all times of the year.
We touched on it already, but automation is one of the most valuable ways that IoT inventory management benefits manufacturers. It does this in multiple key ways.
Improving your on-site automation means fewer errors, more accurate data and real-time insights. It also means more your team members can focus on the high-value work that only they can do.
IoT enables automation by using technology to manage your inventory rather than traditional record-keeping. It’s more effective and productive for your business on several fronts.
In today’s age, data is everything. That’s why your business must have the right data on hand at the right time.
If you’re like most manufacturers, then you likely already have access to all of the data you need. You just might not be utilising it fully.
By attaching IoT sensors and devices to your assets, products and shipments, you can start to collect and activate the data that is already present.
This is critical to staying competitive and effective in 2022. It turns your most valuable asset into an asset that’s generating value rather than going untapped. You’ll be able to make better decisions, stay ahead of trends and find the most efficient processes available.
For some manufacturers — namely in the food, beverage and medical sectors — traceability is a major concern. It’s key to ensuring that products are safe and trusted, and it gives consumers the peace of mind of knowing what they’re buying and where it came from.
Without IoT, it can be easy to lose track of items. And when that happens, items can be exposed to allergens, lose their travel history and more. All of these factors end up creating a less consistent and informed final product.
IoT can turn this around — and fast. By using automated asset tracking, you (and your customers) will never miss a beat when monitoring the traceability of your goods.
Record-keeping is a challenge that is as old as manufacturing itself. This is critical for traceability, asset tracking and much, much more. It’s how you understand your profits and spot mistakes (or worse, fraud and theft).
Just like everything else on this list, the traditional methods for record-keeping are generally unreliable, likely to result in errors and can be tampered with.
IoT inventory management takes record-keeping out of human hands and entrusts it to automated processes. This provides more accurate record-keeping that you and your stakeholders can trust.
Update your inventory in real-time
Lastly, IoT inventory management allows you to update your inventory in real-time. The benefits of this are fairly obvious: it reduces the chances that you’ll sell products you don’t have and it keeps you and your customers informed.
Importantly, it also allows you to better respond to trends. You’ll know what materials and products you have, what your suppliers have access to and how quickly you can mobilise to meet the latest demands.
Real-time visibility is no longer an optional bonus feature. It’s something that we’re used to at all levels of our business, and your inventory should (and can) be just the same.
Tools and tech to help you incorporate IoT
Now that you have an idea of why IoT inventory management is so beneficial to your operations, it’s time to cover the tools and tech that will help you incorporate IoT throughout your business. For manufacturers, incorporating IoT into their processes is pretty straightforward, as you’ll see in the strategies below.
RFID tags to track the movement of materials
First, you can use RFID tags to track the movement of materials. These are affordable, durable and readily available. They don’t require any complex infrastructure to be put to use either, making them a great option for manufacturers of all sizes.
RFID readers to keep track of your RFID tags
Once you have RFID tags throughout your manufacturing centre and supply chain, you’ll need RFID readers. These are the hand-held or installed readers that automatically scan RFID tags and update their location. You can place these throughout your site to keep track of your RFID tags.
RFID antennae to keep your IoT tracking updated
Third, you’ll want to install RFID antennae throughout your operations. These enable you to upload RFID in real-time, giving you instant access to data across your site.
A reliable inventory management system
With everything else lined up, you’ll want a reliable IoT inventory management system, like Workhorse. The right system will provide you with key features like simple reporting, useful integrations and improved visibility — all without breaking the bank.
Embrace IoT inventory management with an inventory management solution you can trust
Embracing IoT inventory management doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the right tools in place, you can start utilising IoT throughout your site with ease and effectiveness.
Start a free trial with Workhorse today and see how it can upgrade your productivity.