Inventory Control and Permanent Inventory

Efficient Stocktaking is Crucial for Accurate Inventory Management

5 Min
May 25, 2024
Inventory use case

What to Expect?

Current trends in inventory control and permanent inventory show an increasing integration of RFID, cloud-based solutions, and automation. A large hospital in England uses a cloud-based RFID and RTLS solution for the real-time inventory of over 72,000 medical assets. A Finnish wholesaler uses an RFID-based solution for automated inventory replenishment. A US film equipment rental company uses RFID for the inventory of over 200,000 assets.

1. Status Quo

The Fundamentals of Permanent Inventory

A permanent inventory is a continuous inventory procedure in which stock levels are regularly recorded and updated. In contrast to the fixed-date stocktaking, which only records stock on a specific balance sheet date, the permanent inventory makes it possible to update inventory on an ongoing basis. This inventory procedure provides a detailed and up-to-date overview of the stock value and inventory levels. Barcode inventory and RFID inventory are essential technologies that increase the efficiency and accuracy of permanent inventory. Permanent inventory software helps to record and manage data. It helps to improve inventory results and quickly identify stock shortages (stock outs). This makes inventory accounting much easier.

Efficient stocktaking is crucial for accurate inventory management and a smooth business process. Inventory sampling is a time-saving method that only counts a portion of stocks, which is especially useful when time or labor is limited. Precise counting lists and software tools also help to increase accuracy and avoid errors in annual inventories. By using modern inventory methods and tools, companies can make their inventory more efficient, saving time and costs.

Wireless IoT Technologies and Inventory

  • RFID

    RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) enables the contactless and fast capture of stock, which increases the efficiency and accuracy of the permanent inventory.

  • Bluetooth LE

    BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology enables cost-effective and energy-efficient collection of inventory data through the use of Bluetooth beacons.

  • UWB

    UWB provides highly accurate real-time location tracking and can be used in an inventory tracking system in complex warehouse environments.

  • LPWAN

    LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) enables the wireless transmission of inventory data over long distances with minimal energy consumption, ideal for wide-area warehouses.

  • NFC

    NFC (Near Field Communication) technology allows quick and easy capture of inventory information through short, contactless data transfer, particularly useful for inventorying smaller items.

Products Designed for the Inventory Control

Various products and technologies support the efficient implementation of permanent inventory. Barcode scanners and RFID readers are essential hardware components for stocktaking. These devices enable fast and precise recording of stock levels and can be connected directly to the warehouse accounting system. Permanent inventory software offers functions for managing inventory data, creating inventory lists and compiling orders. Modern systems also integrate functions for analyzing stock shortages and improving inventory results. RFID asset inventory and barcode inventory are particularly useful for stocktaking in large warehouses. Mobile devices and apps also make it easier to take stock directly at the storage location.

2. In Practice

Application Areas for Permanent Inventory

Permanent inventory is used in various areas. It plays a particularly important role in stock accounting and the stocktaking of large warehouses. Companies in retail, production and wholesale use this method to monitor their stock values precisely. Permanent inventory also offers advantages in order compilation and the management of storage locations. Cycle counting is a special form of permanent inventory in which stocks are counted regularly and on a rotating basis. This reduces the workload and causes less disruption to day-to-day business. In addition, perpetual inventory is also used in accounting to ensure precise and up-to-date accounting.

Improved Inventory with RFID at Rentex

US film equipment rental company Rentex has worked with HID to equip over 200,000 items with RFID tags in order to improve inventory processes. Compiling an order of rental equipment can involve up to 1,000 different items. This includes picking the correct cables from an inventory of 25,000 unique cables. Passive RFID tags are attached to the surface of equipment. A handheld RFID reader acts as a kind of Geiger counter and provides feedback when approached. Several RFID tags can be read simultaneously, even if the objects are packed in containers. The result: The time taken for inventories is reduced and inventory accuracy improved.

Teaser: AV Equipment Rental is Sped Up by UHF RFID
AV Equipment Rental is Sped Up by UHF RFID

“A movie company will come to one of these leasing companies and ask for a thousand items. You know, they need cables and lighting, they need all of this stuff for a particular production. And this equipment has to go on to location. And sometimes that’s just a set in a local facility, but sometimes it’s the middle of the Arizona Desert because they’re making a cowboy movie. What’s important is that the that the leasing company has to go into their warehouse to identify exactly the right items, pull those off the shelf, they bring them to a staging area, they then verify that the order has been assembled correctly and then they get it out to the customer. It’s important to get it right the first time around.“

Ken Horton

Independent

Automated Inventory at ProMart

Finnish wholesaler ProMart offers unmanned self-service stores for the construction industry. These stores, called EasyMarts are equipped with an RFID solution from Turck Vilant Systems. The stores are equipped with two RFID readers. All products are equipped with RFID tags. Once a product has been purchased, rented, or leased, entries are automatically made in an inventory list. In the event of a product shortage, a warning is sent by the system to workers at the central warehouse. This triggers an automatic replenishment order.

ProMart Teaser: Autonomous Self-Service Markets with RFID
Autonomous Self-Service Markets with RFID

“Replenishment costs add a percentage to the price of products in EasyMart. Large companies can offset these. The same applies to construction sites or shipyards with several companies. They benefit from the EasyMart. Additionally, different VMI (vendor managed inventory) systems are getting more and more popular. It doesn’t always need to be a full store. Smart cabinets and smart shelves can also solve part of this problem.”

Jessica Säilä

Head of Marketing, Turck Vilant Systems

Logo Turck Vilant Systems

Inventory with RFID and RTLS at NHS Trust

At Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, a large hospital in England, a cloud-based solution is being used to enable real-time inventory checks of medical equipment. Over 72,000 items have already been tagged with passive RFID tags. In addition, 2,700 sterile trays are tagged every week. 640 stationary RFID readers and over 400 antennas have already been installed at two large hospital sites. 320 mobile computers from Zebra Technologies enable the tracking of assets and patient items. The main objective: To reduce the search time for medical equipment. The result: The RFID solution reduces staff search times from 4 hours to 4 minutes.

Teaser: RTLS & RFID In Healthcare
Advancing Patient Care with Real-Time Location Solutions

“We quickly realised that asset tracking can cover pretty much anything, and we looked for the solution to seamlessly track a much wider range of assets than we initially anticipated.”

Rachael Ellis

Scan4Safety Program Director, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Logo Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
3. Panorama

Advantages of Permanent Inventory

Permanent inventory offers numerous advantages over traditional inventory methods. It enables continuous stocktaking, allowing companies to keep their stocks and stock values up to date at all times. The integration of barcode inventory and RFID inventory improves the accuracy and speed of stocktaking. Perpetual inventory software enables efficient management and evaluation of inventory data. Companies can thus improve inventory results and reduce stock shortages. The continuous inventory update ensures that stocks can be tracked at all times. In addition, perpetual inventory minimizes disruption to day-to-day business, as there is no need to shut down the warehouse completely.

Advantages of Wireless IoT

  • Continuous Stocktaking
  • Improved Inventory Accuracy
  • Increased Inventory Speed
  • Automated Replenishment
  • Elimination of Stock Outs

The Challenges of Permanent Inventory

Despite the many benefits, permanent inventory also comes with some challenges. Implementing and maintaining a permanent inventory requires careful planning and sufficient manpower. Technical problems with a barcode inventory system or an RFID inventory system can interfere with stocktaking. Companies need to ensure that their permanent inventory software is reliable and user-friendly. In addition, high acquisition costs for inventory hardware, such as barcode and RFID readers, can be a hurdle. Regular training is necessary to ensure that employees use the inventory methods correctly. Also, misplaced inventory can lead to confusion if not done correctly.

Partners Spezialized in Inventory Solutions

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