Inventory management can be a challenge for any field service business. Whether you’re a plumber, electrician, or fire safety technician, you’ll handle various parts every day that need to be properly ordered, stored, and managed.
When looking to develop a new and better inventory management workflow, it can be difficult to know where to start. The best place to begin is with a barcode inventory system that will handle your entire process from the arrival of parts to returns. If the software includes a barcode inventory management app, this will offer the warehouse manager the right tools to quickly scan barcodes and check in parts.
To decide what sort of inventory management software your business needs, it’s important to first understand the problems that you have with your current solution. Here are some common issues that field service businesses face when managing inventory:
- You don’t know what (or how much) is in stock
- It takes too long to check in new inventory
- You don’t use up existing parts before ordering more
- Parts get lost, broken or even stolen
- You have to cancel work orders due to low parts availability
If that sounds like your business, keep reading to learn what can be done to remedy these problems. A barcode inventory system can help solve many of these challenges by giving you access to real-time inventory levels, barcode scanning, and a returns workflow.
What are the benefits of a barcode inventory system?
Real-time inventory levels
A properly implemented barcode inventory system should give your team access to real-time inventory levels. This means everyone can know exactly what items are in stock and how many of each item are available. When technicians need a part on site they could first check if it’s in stock and request it from the warehouse, instead of ordering another. Without real-time inventory levels, it’s very difficult to manage the flux and flow of parts in your business as the system would always be one step behind.
A barcode inventory system app
One of the major benefits of a barcode inventory system is being able to utilize the barcode already attached to a part. When parts arrive from the supplier to your warehouse, the warehouse manager will need to log all of the delivered parts. If you wish to benefit from real-time inventory levels, those parts must be added to the system as and when they arrive.
A barcode scanner is the quickest way to check parts into storage. Simply scan the barcode on the part to add it to the system. Through this method, you would be able to build an entire barcode library that matches up with your parts list. Ideally, warehouse managers will have access to an inventory management barcode app on their smartphone. This means they can see all the parts due in and out from their mobile device without carrying a laptop around the storage facility. Warehouse managers would be able to check in hundreds of parts in just a matter of minutes with their barcode stock control app. It doesn’t get much more efficient than that.
Additionally, barcode scanning can help you identify unknown parts. For example, if you’ve found an old part, but you’re not sure what it is, you could simply scan the barcode and check the system record.
Track parts wherever they are
Managing inventory is only half of the problem. A barcode inventory system, with the ability to track multiple locations, allows you to track parts across all your warehouses as well as technicians’ trucks. Knowing which parts are in stock in your trucks, which parts have been installed, and which have been requested from site allows you to comprehensively manage inventory across all of your locations.
A reliable returns workflow
Without a reliable returns workflow, technicians will leave unused parts in the back of their truck. These parts often get forgotten or broken and are unable to be used later on. With the right inventory management software, however, returns can be monitored and technicians can even be prompted to return unused parts to the warehouse.
Increased cash flow
Because a barcode inventory system can stop your techs from unnecessarily ordering new parts, it can help improve your business’s cash flow. This allows you to reduce stockpiling and tying up money in inventory, by making sure you always use existing parts first. Additionally, proper management of returns reduces the associated expenses of lost and damaged inventory.
Improved customer experience
Real-time inventory levels and a streamlined check in process can help improve customer service by letting you know if parts are available for a scheduled work order. With the right data you can know in advance if parts will be ready in time for a work order and can give the customer notice if the appointment may need to be delayed. No customer likes finding out on the day that the work cannot be completed.
What is the best inventory management software?
If you’re looking to drive efficiency in your business with a new barcode inventory system, consider Commusoft’s inventory management feature, which is offered as part of our work order management software. It handles the entire inventory workflow, from requesting and ordering parts, checking parts in and out of the warehouse, all the way through to returns and inventory audits. It includes a barcode inventory app which allows warehouse managers to organize their daily tasks and quickly check in parts with a mobile barcode scanner. Learn more about Commusoft stock control.