Digital transformation in the oil and gas industry has seen the development of several software solutions that assist in optimising and managing the downstream supply chain. The supply chain consists of many different systems that need to be regulated and integrated, one of these moving parts lies in inventory control. Several types of Inventory control systems work to assist in maximising profits, creating greater visibility of stock, enhancing quality control and reducing operating costs.
What is Inventory Control?
Many people often confuse inventory management and inventory control. Both processes fulfil different roles but are interlinked in the supply chain. Inventory management includes inventory control but involves activities that include the sourcing, forecasting and replenishment of stock in every stocking location or warehouse.
Inventory control, on the other hand, involves the monitoring of stock levels and knowing what, where and how much inventory is on-hand in a store, stockroom or warehouse. Inventory control regulates the inventory that is already in a distributor’s warehouse. Warehouse management is, therefore, an essential component of any inventory control system. This ensures that you, as the supplier, know exactly where each product is located in the warehouse, guarantees that all inventory remains in great condition, and assists in laying out the warehouse in a way that minimises the costs related to filling customer orders. In the case of larger companies, inventory control systems are also supported by ERP software solutions to ensure full operational optimisation and management.
Different types of Inventory control systems make use of several different innovative technology solutions that are fit for purpose in this dynamic and ever-changing industry.
Trends in Inventory Control Systems
Over the years, innovations in technology have seen several trends develop in the inventory control space with the aim of helping to streamline supply chain activities. These trends effectively track and manage the movement and sales of your inventory items in real-time. Some of these trends include:
- QR Codes – Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) are a type of 2D barcode. They offer a 2D view of data and enhance manual inventory tracking. These codes let you know of a shipment’s location, times when scanning occurred, how many scenes were taken through the shipment journey and more. QR Codes allow you to automate processes in your ERPs, WMS, CRMs, ordering systems, and their use can help prevent loss through the shipment’s journey.
- RFID – Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), provides a “3D view” of data. There are two types of RFID tags. These include Active RFID and Passive RFID. Active systems make use of a transponder on the shipment. That transponder receives and transmits data. Passive systems only reflect a signal to a reader. RFID offers reliable applications and allows for greater automation of tasks through its scanning capabilities. In terms of inventory control, identification RFID enables warehouses to readily identify inventory still on the truck, to include item-level accuracy. RFID tracking improves the ability to locate items quickly, prevent theft, and can be used in tracking returnable assets (pallets, containers, etc.).
- Mobile Devices – In many situations companies’ inventory and assets move between storage locations, employees, clients, vehicles or job sites. Mobile devices enable you to track assets movements and inventory stock changes.
- Voice systems – voice-directed systems can improve picking accuracy and the speed of the pick performed by the warehouse staff. Voice picking systems use speech recognition and speech synthesis to allow warehouse operators, who are performing the picks to communicate with a Warehouse Management System (WMS).
Types of Inventory Control Systems
There are several types of inventory control systems that enhance transportation and distribution processes within the oil and gas industry. These solutions allow for the real-time intelligent information processing in the warehouse to maximise efficiency. These inventory control systems include:
Stock locator database
This type of inventory control system allows for proactive decision making. This tool will enable you to create a state-of-the-art space management system by running and maintaining records related to stock numbers, lot number, and the number of loads in each storage location. Grid coordinates of the reserve area, including individual rack tier positions, must be established and the load capacity of all storage locations needs to be incorporated into the database.
Grid coordinating numbering system
A warehouse numbering system needs to be developed in conjunction with the storage layout and should be user-friendly to ensure that workers can quickly locate currently stocked items.
These are a valuable investment for larger warehouses. These systems use technology to enhance efficiency and have made it possible for the warehouse computer system to interact with terminal display on the machinery itself. Task assignment can, therefore, be made by visual display or print-out, and task completion can be confirmed by scanning, keyboard entry, or voice recognition.
Maximisation of storage capacity
This type of inventory control system looks at maximising the use of storage space with the aims of easing traffic congestion and reducing problems associated with the ongoing turnover of inventory.
Periodic Inventory system
This is a form of inventory valuation where the inventory account is updated at the end of an accounting period rather than after a sale and purchase. This allows businesses to track inventory turnover at the beginning and end of an accounting period.
The perpetual system keeps track of inventory balances continuously, with updates made automatically whenever a product is received or sold.
Objectives of Inventory Control Systems
All types of Inventory Control systems aim to maximise profits with minimum investment and without impacting customer service levels. These systems provide better visibility and lower operating costs by ensuring:
Save on operational costs by enhancing inventory control processes. These systems maximise the use of resources which include raw materials, finished products, equipment, space, time and people.
Increase productivity and accuracy
By implementing different types of inventory control systems, you are able to reduce error rates and increase inventory accuracy, which will enhance your overall ROI.
Effective decision making
Through the implementation of inventory control systems, you will gain insight into possible problem areas and be able to fix them before they become more costly to the business.
Increase transparency into stock, quality, labour utilisation and what is happening in terms of inventory processes in the warehouse. This will provide you with the necessary information and insight to manage these processes effectively.
Effective quality control
Through inventory control systems, you can locate and track stock and monitor the quality of the stock going in and out of the warehouse.
Different types of Inventory control systems are essential to the effective transport and distribution of oil and gas in both small businesses and large organisations. There are several types of inventory control systems that can be implemented to assist in managing inventory levels and warehousing processes that will ultimately make your business more efficient and agile. Ensure that you are adopting the right inventory control software solution for your business by contacting Adapt IT Energy, leaders in the field of software solutions in the oil and gas industry. Let Adapt IT Energy assist in optimising your downstream supply chain with an inventory management software solution that suits your business needs.
Shireen Regal leads the Transportation and Distribution portfolio for Adapt IT Energy. She has gained experience and knowledge in the Energy industry, through working with Oil Majors both locally and globally. Shireen experience spans across business & systems analysis, business process & solution design, implementation and optimisation, with a strong focus on project management as well. Shireen also possess profound market leadership and expertise in the Adapt IT Transport and Distribution solution stream.