Stock management systems are essential to proper and efficient processes in warehousing, logistics, and operational environments. Whether you need to know where a specific item is at any given moment, what stock levels are in a particular warehouse, or whether the right inventory has been loaded onto a vehicle, stock management solutions are vital to ensure sufficient product or raw material to meet customer demand.

With such an integral role in operations throughout warehouses and logistics in businesses up and down the country, stock management systems need to be handled correctly to ensure effective and efficient running.

What are Some of the Issues that Warehouses Typically run into?

Whatever system you have in place, as long as humans are involved and deadlines to meet, you will likely encounter errors.

Issues can range from:

  • Stock going missing
  • Lack of visibility of inventory
  • Incorrectly recording or identifying items
  • Tracking under or overstock

This blog explores how barcoding solutions can revolutionise stock management processes, including RFID tags and scanners, mobile printers and handheld computers. In particular, we’ll look at the benefits of these technologies and how they can improve stock management.

Barcode Labelling vs RFID for Stock Management

Effective stock management begins with comprehensive tracking of your inventory. From a standing start with a warehouse full of empty racks, that’s relatively easy. You simply record everything that comes into your warehouse and record every time one of those items leaves. One in, one out… OK – maybe not so simple with the thousands of items on your shelves.

To keep track of goods, there are two technologies that can help; barcodes and RFID. Both perform a similar task in that a printed label contains information about the item it is attached to. Barcode labels hold all of that information in the printed barcode itself, whereas RFID contains a tiny microchip (tag) that is part of the label.

Both can be read by scanners which can be either hand held, placed in fixed locations through which items must pass or can even be mounted on vehicles. The scanners read the information on the label or tag and pass that back to a database, file storage system or full Warehouse Management System (WMS) to provide a central view of your inventory.

While barcodes and RFID are similar in principle, RFID offers some enhancements. For example, RFID tags have a much larger read range than barcodes and do not require a scanner to be able to ‘see’ the tag to be readable. This makes the task of scanning and, therefore, tracking the movement of goods arguably a lot easier and quicker.

However, the initial setup of RFID technology infrastructure can be more expensive than barcodes. Despite this, your return on investment in the longer term may be better than on standard labels, depending on their application – so you’ll need to consider this.

Whichever method is right for you, both eliminate an opportunity for human error by removing the need for manual data entry. What and how many there are are now identified by labels/tags and scanning.

That applies to when items enter your warehouse and must be recorded, and equally so for picking and handling items as they leave. Whether that’s raw materials leaving storage to be processed in a manufacturing area or finished goods being packed to be shipped out to end customers, everything is being captured and recorded, giving you a clearer idea of what’s on your warehouse racking.

So, with a chosen method of keeping tabs on inventory, what else can barcoding solutions do to improve processes?

How Mobile Printers Can Help with Stock Management

Mobile printers can deliver significant benefits in stock management. They’re light, portable, robust and often can communicate wirelessly via Bluetooth or WiFi, providing real-time connectivity to handheld computers and, ultimately, a central stock database or WMS.

Diving into the specifics, if you have an incoming shipment to your warehouse and need to relabel SSCC pallet labels with your own internal SKU labels, that is often handled at a central print station. So a batch of labels will be printed in advance ready for the incoming shipment. But what if one of those labels is dropped or damaged or stuck on upside down, it needs to be replaced which means one employee doing a fresh print run and often a second employee heading back to the print station to pick them up. That’s time-consuming, could cause a bottleneck at goods-in and is ultimately wasteful.

With mobile printers, the labels are printed in real-time where needed and as required, eliminating a lot of potential headaches, particularly if your warehouse handles multiple in-shipments daily.

Mobile printers offer accurate on-demand functionality for picking, packing, and dispatch tasks. Workers can quickly print labels for items as they pick, pack, and ship them, streamlining the entire process and reducing the chances of errors.

Handheld Computers and Effective Stock Management

Handheld computers take various forms, from rugged tablets and touchscreen mobile devices to full keypad mobile computers. These often play a crucial role in improving warehouse management processes. Here are several ways handheld computers contribute to the efficiency and accuracy of warehouse operations.

These devices often feature built-in barcode scanning technology or can be connected to an RFID reader, allowing for quick and accurate scanning of products. This speeds up the process of receiving, picking, and shipping items.

Pick lists can be sent directly to individual devices so employees don’t need to rely on paperwork or return to a central hub for instruction. Coupled with mobile printers, pick lists can be converted to packing lists at completion, with any errors or omissions being identified and noted, helping to improve customer feedback and experiences.

Mobile terminals can also capture valuable data, which can be put to various uses, with barcode scanning capability as well as RFID reader capability. This, therefore, can form a complete scan, print and receipt solution.

By incorporating handheld computers into warehouse and stock management processes, businesses can significantly improve efficiency, accuracy, and overall operational effectiveness.

Stock Management and Barcoding Solutions Delivered by Cobalt

Barcoding solutions are instrumental in transforming stock management processes. The strategic implementation of barcode labelling or RFID tags and scanners, handheld printers and mobile computers creates a comprehensive system that enhances visibility, accuracy, and efficiency throughout warehousing and stock management environments.

By adopting these technologies, companies can elevate their stock management practices, improving operational performance and better-informed decision-making.

Get in touch with the team at Cobalt to find out how we can help deliver the solutions you’re looking for. We’re here to improve your stock management solutions using barcoding technologies.