The Role of Data Analytics in Intelligently Managing Your Inventory

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Inventory management practices have changed significantly over the years. In the past, warehouses and other businesses in the supply chain relied largely on just-in-time inventory systems. While these were designed to strategize production or ordering of goods as closely as possible to when they were needed, this wasn’t always effective. The result was often costly over-ordering or missing out on opportunities due to shortages.

Today, supply chain managers have more effective and agile tools at their disposal. Data analytics tools, in particular, represent a more intelligent approach to inventory management. These platforms can be tailored to capture various types of information, compare these to past data sets, and offer practical insights. As a result, warehouses and manufacturers can be more profitable and competitive enterprises.

We’re going to explore the role of data analytics a little further, including ways you can utilize it to manage your inventory more intelligently.

Accurate Forecasting

Keeping control of your inventory can often feel like a balancing act. You’re often making choices between keeping too many or too few items in your warehouse. This is a chance businesses in the supply chain have been taking throughout its history. However, one of the most valuable tools at your disposal here is reliable intelligence. This empowers you to forecast your needs more effectively and accurately. Data analytics is key to performing this process well.

Modern supply chain data analytics is geared toward gaining the most appropriate demand insights. The idea is that this information is intended to help you identify the ideal amount of inventory at any given time. The software platform collects data throughout the supply process alongside key metrics on trends for specific types of products in the current market. It then assesses these data points alongside your warehouse’s current inventory, production timelines, and order allocations. Your staff then accesses real-time recommendations for replenishment or manufacturing via the user interface.

This is not just a process that helps you maintain the sweet spot between under-ordering and overstocking. It also empowers your company to be more agile. With more accurate insights into supply and demand, you can adapt to unexpected changes in the industry.

Efficient Operations

Managing your inventory isn’t just about keeping the right amount of product moving through your warehouse. It’s also about making certain your operations support your goals. If your operations are inefficient, this reduces your profit margins. In turn, your financial losses reduce your ability to invest in more inventory or supportive tools at times when they could be most beneficial. Data analytics has a role to play in streamlining your processes in positive ways.

Free Men Walking in a Warehouse Stock Photo

Maintaining efficiency tends to come down to the seemingly small actions that have a cumulative impact. The distances your warehouse staff have to travel to pick common items. The potential for human or machine error in processing and dispatch. These aspects and others make a difference. Data analytics tools allow you to capture information on these seemingly small elements and provide you with actionable insights on areas for improvement.

In a more direct way, the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is instrumental in making manufacturing processes more efficient and profitable. With mobile edge computing (MEC), the IIoT allows for sensors connected to machinery and throughout the supply chain to scan products on their journeys from raw materials to finished and stored items. The artificial intelligence (AI) software connected to these devices analyzes the data captured alongside demand insights. As such, it has the potential to recognize early signs of shortages or surpluses long before a human manager would note this. This data allows businesses to then adjust production streams accordingly.

Risk Reductions

One of the most important roles of data analytics is in reducing risks. No business is ever completely free of hazards. This is a reality that all entrepreneurs have to grapple with at some point. However, accurate intelligence can help better direct risk reduction processes. It helps you to focus your resources in the most appropriate areas and develop effective recovery protocols. As such, data analytics can provide more stable protections related to your inventory.

Stock shrinkage is one of the more common forms of inventory-related risk warehouses and supply chains experience. Nobody likes to think staff or visitors would steal items, but it does happen. Data analytics software can collect real-time data on production, stock, despatch, and delivery. This means that these tools can provide managers with immediate information on any apparent losses. Not only that, it can utilize collected data on the last time and location of each item. This helps managers to spot any consistent issues, identify thieves, and improve security processes in the most appropriate areas.

It’s also important to recognize that risks of staff shortages also impact inventory. Labor shortages are one of the key influencers of supply chain bottlenecks. Human resources (HR) data analytics software can be an essential tool here. It reviews data on your company’s inventory production and management needs and can forecast your staff needs well in advance. Indeed, when combined with an effective candidate management system (CMS), you can automatically begin recruitment before disruptions occur.

Conclusion

Data analytics can help warehouse managers and manufacturers make better use of all the information generated through the supply chain. The right software can improve the accuracy of forecasting and bolster efficiency. It can also play a role in reducing the risks that impact inventory management. These are accessible tools, made practical by user-friendly user interfaces. By focusing some investment here, your entire supply chain can benefit from intelligent insights.