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Better Inventory Management for Utilities: Why You Need to Go Digital

Better Inventory Management for Utilities: Why You Need to Go Digital


If you’re managing inventory and the supply chain for a utility, there are probably many parts, pieces of equipment and products you need to track and locate. But if you’re still tracking things manually with pencil and paper, or you’re relying on Bob—who knows where everything is in your warehouse or lay-down yard—you’re probably dealing with some inventory and supply chain headaches.

Manual inventory and supply chain tracking tends to create many problems and delays because you can’t find parts and equipment when they’re needed, and you don’t have an accurate count or view into your inventory. In the end, it usually means you end up not having the right quantities on hand or carrying excess stock, which creates added difficulties and costs.

Given these problems, delays and costs, it often pays huge dividends to start digitizing your inventory management and your supply chain by using barcodes. Beginning with some basic tools including a barcode label printer, barcode labels and mobile data collection device, you can start tracking things accurately and far more efficiently. You’ll always know what’s in stock and where it’s located, and you’ll minimize excess stock and ensure accurate counts by digitally tracking everything by part and serial number.

Instead of wasting time trying to track down the right equipment or parts, or trying to find Bob, your workers and managers can find everything they need by quickly searching for the right part number or the right category in your inventory software. You can see all your inventory at a glance, including stock quantities, usage trends and re-order thresholds. Plus, it’s all maintained with digital accuracy, where human errors are minimized.

Inventory accuracy is crucial for your business. For utility organizations, tracking expensive equipment and inventory can quickly add up to millions of dollars in savings, just from helping eliminate lost inventory, wasted time trying to find items, quantity discrepancies, and expensive excess stock.

How to start barcoding in your warehouse or yard.

To start barcoding and digitally tracking your equipment and inventory, you will use a barcode label printer to print and apply labels to the right items, bins or rack locations. Each barcode uniquely identifies the inventory you want to track. Then you can scan that barcode with a barcode scanner, tablet or handheld mobile computer, and use a mobile version of your software to enter or update quantities as you remove or replenish stock. The software does the rest for you automatically and digitally tracks and updates stock levels, part numbers, locations, replenishment needs and re-ordering.

The system is designed to bring the data needed in the hands of the worker.  You can use your software to search for specific inventory, instantly see its location, see how much is in stock, view trends and reports, and manage your assets more efficiently and accurately. Your software will typically have a desktop computer version as well, so you can access the same functionality, inventory info and reports from a desktop PC.

You don’t need to be a computer whiz or technology expert to do any of this. You can work with experts to help you implement a digital inventory and supply chain management solution in your operations, get everything up and running, train your workers, and even help you maintain your system over the long term. Our team at AB&R has done this for hundreds of utilities, manufacturers, warehouses and other industrial operations, and we work closely with Zebra, one of the world’s leading barcoding and mobile computing companies, to provide the hardware and our top-recommended software to get the job done.

Today’s barcoding and software solutions make it all extremely simple because they’re designed from the ground up to be fast and easy to implement; moreover, they’re designed to be as user-friendly as possible. There is virtually no learning curve, and you can work with our experts to guide you along the way to set up, design and deploy a digital system to follow the workflow of your operations.

Barcodes have been around for 60 years, and they’re used in every industry to help automate and error-proof inventory management. But they haven’t made their way into some utility organizations where things are still being tracked and managed with pen and paper.

To break out of those manual and cumbersome processes, start by reaching out to our team at AB&R for an initial discovery to see how we can help.  Our technology experts help companies successfully implement barcode-based supply chain and inventory management, even in the most manual operations where computers, software and mobile devices have never been used before. And we’ve even helped Bob make his own life easier by not having to memorize every part, bin, and rack in the warehouse.

To get started and explore the possibilities, connect with us now to set up a call or an on-site visit and consultation. We’d be happy to answer your questions, show you a demo of what’s possible with digital inventory and supply chain management, and recommend potential steps and solutions for your business. Just call us now at 800 281 3056 or send us a quick email.

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