Managing Inventory In Realtime

Being able to track inventory in a more efficient manner leads to better company performance and more satisfied customers.

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we live and work, with everything being connected in ways we could never have imagined. Smart devices have become the norm, whether it's in the form of smart kitchens or homes, or smart waste management systems. 

When it comes to logistics providers, IoT has made things a lot simpler – and quicker – too. Through integration with IoT, businesses are able to view, track and monitor inventory in real time, giving them the capacity to deal with inefficiencies that have plagued them in the past. And, in the end, it's both the company and the consumers that will benefit from this.

While RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags have been used by companies for a number of years now, the introduction of IoT technology into RFID has improved ways in which companies track and communicate with their products. When these sensors are built into objects, they are able to send out information relating to things such as the temperature, the traffic and the level of damage to the object. Whether in a warehouse or on the shelf of a physical store, these products can be tracked remotely from anywhere, in real time. And data is available for anything from a single product to an entire shipment. 

With GPS functionalities built into these sensors, accurate location tracking is made possible, so companies will know exactly where each item in their stock is, at all times. Not only does this reduce the number of lost or stolen products, it also improves the management of stock shortages and helps to identify inefficiencies because it is able to pick out issues such as how bad the traffic is at particular times of the day when stock is being delivered or during which processes items are damaged.

All the data that is generated by these sensors can be connected to an event-processing solution and, from here, businesses can monitor inventory levels in real time, as well as automatically place orders for any stock. Having good visibility of inventory and the ability to track and place orders quickly is valuable information for any business and makes the consumers' expectation to get the goods faster not just a possibility but a reality.

One of the first companies to use IoT technology for their inventory management was American retailer Walmart.

Levi's, in one of their stores in San Francisco, partnered with Intel to track their stock through RFID tags. The Intel Retail Sensor Platform allowed Levi’s to gather inventory intelligence by understanding what items customers have touched, tried on and ultimately bought at the store.

EVRYTHNG’s (evrythng.com) Inventory Management application solution allows real-time tracking at individual item level, so managers know where every product is, how they got there and what condition they're in. This optimises supply chain transparency and accuracy, as well as simplifies processes such as product batch recalls and quality control.

Earlier this year, EVRYTHNG struck a deal with packaging and labelling giant Avery Denison that puts labels onto products from brands like Nike and Adidas to create unique web identities for at least 10 billion pieces of apparel over the next three years. “This is probably the biggest deal the IoT industry has had,” said Niall Murphy, CEO of EVRYTHNG.

The use of IoT in inventory management means that stock can be continuously monitored, tracked and remotely controlled across an existing network infrastructure. Not only does this improve the accuracy of delivery and customer service too, it also leads to the improvement in other areas such as inventory flow, stock replenishment and equipment monitoring. This leads to a reduction in inefficiencies and costs, meaning that profit margins will be preserved as a result. 


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