Use Cases Inventory Management

Inventory Management

Inventory management solutions aim to automate the inventory management process and increase accuracy and reliability. Every individual inventory item that is to be tracked receives an RFID tag or other similar tracking technology. Each tag has a unique identification number that contains encoded digital data about an inventory item, for example the model and batch number. Tags are scanned by RFID or other readers. Upon scanning, a reader extracts the tag's ID and transmits it to the cloud for processing. Along with the tag's ID, the cloud receives data about the reader’s location and the time of the reading. Based on this data, an application states the location of the item with the corresponding ID, visualizes the findings and displays real-time updates about inventory items’ movements to the solution users, allowing them to monitor the inventory using a smartphone or a laptop from anywhere, in real time. There are also secondary benefits of inventory management. For example, machine learning can forecast the amount of raw materials needed for the upcoming production cycle based on the data about the inventory quantity and location, and reorder them as needed. It can also help in matching demand with supply more accurately as inventory movement is also a representation of demand.
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Hospital Inventory Management
Hospital Inventory Management
The hospital supply chain team is responsible for ensuring that the right medical supplies are readily available to clinicians when and where needed, and to do so in the most efficient manner possible. However, many of the systems and processes in use at the cancer center for supply chain management were not best suited to support these goals. Barcoding technology, a commonly used method for inventory management of medical supplies, is labor intensive, time consuming, does not provide real-time visibility into inventory levels and can be prone to error. Consequently, the lack of accurate and real-time visibility into inventory levels across multiple supply rooms in multiple hospital facilities creates additional inefficiency in the system causing over-ordering, hoarding, and wasted supplies. Other sources of waste and cost were also identified as candidates for improvement. Existing systems and processes did not provide adequate security for high-cost inventory within the hospital, which was another driver of cost. A lack of visibility into expiration dates for supplies resulted in supplies being wasted due to past expiry dates. Storage of supplies was also a key consideration given the location of the cancer center’s facilities in a dense urban setting, where space is always at a premium. In order to address the challenges outlined above, the hospital sought a solution that would provide real-time inventory information with high levels of accuracy, reduce the level of manual effort required and enable data driven decision making to ensure that the right supplies were readily available to clinicians in the right location at the right time.
SML Intelligent Inventory Solutions
SML Intelligent Inventory Solutions
SML Intelligent Inventory's customers, some retail and supply chain businesses wanted a cost-efficient way to improve their inventory management so that they can increase their revenue.
Hardware Retailer Uses Data Warehouse to Track Inventory
Hardware Retailer Uses Data Warehouse to Track Inventory
Ace tracked which products retailers ordered, when they were ordered and shipped. However, the company could not track or forecast actual sales. Data used for reporting was up to a one-week old, owing to performance and data cleansing issues. Requirement to integrate wholesale and inventory data with POS data to help drive key business decisions, improve category management, lower inventory costs and optimize pricing. Reliance on custom coding to integrate POS data was excessively resource intensive and led to major performance constraints.

Inventory Management Software Market size was estimated at over USD 2 billion in 2017, growing at a CAGR of over 6% from 2018 to 2024.

Source: Global Market Insights

What is the business value of this IoT use case and how is it measured?
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What are the benefits of an IoT-based approach on Inventory Management?

IoT-based inventory management lays a solid foundation for both process and business improvements. The benefits it offers include:

- Automation of inventory tracking and reporting: each item is tracked and the data about it is recorded to a big data warehouse automatically. 

- Constant visibility into the inventory items’ quantity, location, and movements

- Inventory optimization: with the real-time data about the quantity and the location of the inventory items, manufacturers can lower the amount of inventory on hand while meeting the needs of the customers at the end of the supply chain.

- Identifying bottlenecks in the operations: manufacturers can reveal bottlenecks in the manufacturing process and pinpoint machines with lower utilization rates.

- Lead time optimization: By providing inventory managers with the data about the amount of available inventory and machine learning-driven demand forecasts, solutions based on IIoT allow manufacturers to reduce lead times.

 

Which technologies are used in a system and what are the critical technology?
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What technology does Inventory Management use?

RFID

What are the main features components in RFID systems?

RFID systems feature three main components: RFID tags, RFID antennas and RFID readers.

- An RFID tag has an ID carrying the information about a specific object. It can be attached to any physical surface, including raw materials, finished goods, packages, crates, pallets, etc.

- An RFID antenna catches the waves from the reader to supply energy for tags’ operation and relays the radio signal from the tags to the readers.

- An RFID reader, which can be either fixed or handheld, uses radio waves to write to and read from the tags.

 

What data is obtained by the system and what are the critical data management decision points?
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How data is obtained in the system?

In an inventory management solution based on Industrial IoT and RFID, any individual inventory item that is to be tracked receives an RFID tag. Each tag has a unique identification number (ID) that contains encoded digital data about an inventory item, e.g. a model, a batch number, etc. Tags are scanned by RFID readers. Upon scanning, a reader extracts tags’ IDs and transmits them to the cloud for processing.

 

What business, integration, or regulatory challenges could impact deployment?
Your Answer

What are the challenges and limitations?

The use of RFID technologies can be limited by the following factors:

- Since RFID tags can be attached to the items that are still in progress, manufacturers have to ensure that the tags do not influence the manufacturing process.

- Although RFID readers can scan through most of the non-metallic materials, they still may have troubles scanning through liquid and metal.

- The price of RFID readers can go to as much as $3,000 to $20,000 per item, installation and configuration included. Therefore, the cost of the products should be high enough for the tags and readers to pay off.

 

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