By: Nancy LaConte, General Manager on December 29th, 2020
How Utilizing An Inventory Team Can Reduce Your Product Downtime
Do you spend a ton of time counting your inventory and still don’t feel confident you have the right numbers? Do you have extensive product downtime due to inventory being received with the wrong product code, date code, or item totals?
Does your shipping department cut orders due to not being able to find a product on the floor? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you could benefit from creating an inventory team in your organization.
Here at Industrial Packaging, we were experiencing all 3 of the issues above. By creating an inventory team, we’ve leveraged our inventory software system to manage our inventory.
In this article, we’ll share some secrets to success in forming and running an inventory team that will save you a lot of hassle, reduce wasted time and money, and streamlines your inventory processes.
Building Your Inventory Team
Our inventory team consists of an inventory manager, inventory clerk, and shipping/receiving clerk. We’d recommend following this same structure so that internal stakeholders from these teams are included in optimizing your processes for the best results.
The first thing that your newly formed inventory team will want to do is investigate how they could utilize cycle counting through the inventory software system. This allows you to understand what your inventory is in real-time.
Using this method has helped us save time immediately by eliminating the lengthy month-end inventory count. The count is no longer necessary, and we know what our inventory is all the time.
Next, we’ll jump into each of the roles and how they play a part in your inventory team.
The inventory clerk audits all receipts from the previous day to correct any errors found so you won’t have inventory downtime issues for the wrong product getting to the lines. They are responsible for organizing and keeping the warehouse orderly.
The inventory clerk will combine any partial pallets they find and sort mixed pallets so that mixed product doesn’t get to the production lines. If any product is damaged or tipped over, they’ll remove or re-stack it. They also complete cycle counts daily in the warehouse and correct any issues found to improve inventory accuracy on the floor.
The inventory manager monitors all inventory adjustments made daily to ensure that the adjustments are being performed correctly and communicate misuse issues.
They’ll also monitor the date codes of all products in your warehouse to ensure you’re using the oldest product first and not using any out-of-date code products. Every day, they’ll send out a report to the production supervisors to let them know which product date they are to use on each job run.
The manager also sends a weekly report on finished goods near an expiry date so that we can't ship them out before they expire.
There is also a report showing what and how much old-date product remains on the floor. The inventory manager will then remove that from the warehouse so you can utilize space that you couldn’t have otherwise used before having an accurate inventory system.
Shipping And Receiving Clerk
The shipping receiving clerk puts away all materials instead of having the forklift drivers put them away. There is a material drop off area that all drivers drop materials off at when they are removed off of lines at the end of a project.
The clerk ensures that the material gets back into inventory with the correct item # and combines the cases to make full pallets. They also make these adjustments in the inventory software system, so the inventory value is valid.
Before this process, there were many pallets of materials placed in incorrect locations; mixed pallets of different items, half-pallets wouldn't get used, and we were ordering more materials than necessary because we were unclear of our inventory.
Benefits Of Having An Inventory Team
Since we launched our inventory team, we have reduced our product downtime by 40%! Additionally, we have been able to minimize quality issues caused by using incorrect date codes. We can also monitor the uses for inventory adjustments to make sure they don't adversely affect our inventory process.
We have reduced our material inventory by 10% due to our confidence in inventory accuracy. Our shipping accuracy has also improved because we can quickly locate the finished goods and don't miss shipping products before their expiration dates.
Having a dedicated inventory team has allowed our dock to run more smoothly because they aren’t managing products in the warehouse. The production team has had increased productivity due to less downtime for product-related issues and poor inventory accuracy.
How To Implement Your Own Inventory Team
By following the processes described above, you will be able to develop a world-class inventory team for your own company. From the initial hiring phase to the implementation of the team in your warehouse, you will be able to rest assured that you have the proper personnel and people in place to achieve success in your own inventory management.
If you are unsure where to start in your journey to develop and implement a rock-star level inventory team, and would like some guidance, feel free to reach out to us. We can offer guidance and further explain our own processes that we used while developing our own inventory team.
We have expertise in this area of supply chain management and have been working on perfecting our inventory management systems over the course of several decades. We may be able to assist your company in setting up and running a top-quality, productive, and efficient inventory team if you do not already have one for your company.
Suppose you are already working with another packaging vendor. In that case, you may also want to consider reaching out to them and asking for feedback on how they run their inventory department to see if you can cull any further tips and tricks from their inventory management playbook.
If you do not currently have a packaging vendor, please consider reaching out to us as we may be able to assist you in these endeavors as well. We can also help you choose the appropriate packaging vendor for machinery and materials even if we are not ultimately the packaging vendor you choose to do business with. We are here to help you succeed in your packaging and inventory departments.