Counting tens of thousands of cartons is a formidable task. Accurately recording the contents of these cartons can be overwhelming. For a manufacturer of hose products, completing their physical inventory took three to four days. When the counting was complete, data was keyed into a local computer system and then uploaded to an IBM mainframe at the home office. If they were lucky, they might get an inventory report back from the home office in five to seven days. By this time, the report was obsolete.
Current Directions designed a PC based system using Intermec 9445 hand-held bar-code readers with built-in scanners, preprinted part number labels and part location labels that greatly simplified the manual data entry necessary. Using the bar-code reader, employees wand an identification number, a location label, and a part number label. The cartons containing that part are counted, and the number entered into the reader. The person then moves to the next part. At set intervals the collected data is unloaded into the PC, and checked. Any errors can be corrected directly to the data. All inventory information is directly uploaded to the host mainframe, eliminating any data entry time and errors. When the inventory is finished they can print a report immediately. Audit reports can be printed at any time during the counting process.
The beauty of this system is its simplicity. The physical counting that used to take three to four days now takes less than a single day, using less personnel. By removing the need for clerical input, accuracy has been improved to about 98%. It has the added benefit of freeing staff for other projects. The inventory report that used to be available in five to seven days is now available as soon as the PC has the data. That makes the information far more valuable, and gives management a far greater control on inventory. That gave the company the ability to adjust production in a timely and cost-effective manner.