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Inventory Checks Powered By Drones

Matt Yearling
by Matt Yearling on Nov 21, 2017 15:00:00 PM

Drone cycle counting is revolutionizing the way organizations are using their employees by increasing accuracy and lowering prices.

The Challenge of Inventory Reconciliation without a Drone Inventory System

No matter where your company is located on the planet—if you run a large supply chain operation, you are sure to experience problems with inventory reconciliation. There are a number of ways that companies have historically tried to overcome this inherent challenge, including:

  • Better forecasting
  • Shifted safety stock levels
  • Enhanced order point and order quantity processes

There are some businesses that never worry about reconciling their inventories, some that close all their operations while they perform a complete check, and others that have a comprehensive and cyclic approach to counting. Even when a company does their absolute best, without a drone inventory system, these approaches are shown to produce an 89-99% confidence level in the inventory—as described in Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium Report: Inventory Accuracy Through Cycle Counting.

Counting the Cost of Error

A 1% error margin might not seem like a lot. However, if your company has one billion dollars of inventory distributed throughout your network, 1% of inventory not accounted for means a loss of ten million dollars. So, what steps are you taking to improve the accuracy of your warehouse inventory?

Changing Warehouse Management for a Changing Market

With the rise of the digital supply chain and drone inventory checking, the way that retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and logistics service providers manage their inventory across distribution and sales channels is changing. In addition to the increasing popularity of e-commerce, omni-channel sales, shifting customer demands, and a shortage of skilled labor are adding further challenges to the situation.

Even if you have the most talented warehouse staff performing your repetitive manual tasks, you are still going to have errors occur. The human factor involved in the scanning and storage of inventory in any warehouse management system (WMS) will inevitably result in inaccuracies. What varies is the extent of these inaccuracies.

Drone Inventory Management: The Solution of the Digital Era

More and more companies are finding the solution to their inventory management challenges with drone inventory management using aerial robots or autonomous drones. These robots can solve the diverse range of inventory management and tracking problems in conjunction with advanced sensor capabilities like passive-RFID, cameras, barcode scanners, and deep learning computer vision.

Considering that these drone inventory robots can operate in hard-to-reach locations, keeping track of your warehouse inventory suddenly becomes much easier and more efficient. Drone cycle counting also means that your employees can perform more meaningful and strategic tasks than repetitive inventory checks.

More Than Quadcopters

When we talk about drone inventory robots, we are talking about something much more intelligent than a barcode scanner strapped to a quadcopter that is guided from the ground. Drones for inventory management need to be fully autonomous, have stereo vision capability, move around safely, and read inventory accurately.

When used for inventory checks, aerial robots offer the following benefits:

  • Increased safety for employees
  • Reduced personnel and equipment costs
  • Automatic inventory checks
  • Accurate quantity and location data for inventory
  • Reduced financial losses from missing inventory
  • More efficient location of stock to replenish pick lines
  • More accurate financial reporting and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Improved decisions about ordering and dealing with excess stock

Choose PINC for Your Drone Inventory Management

As an industry leader in digital supply chains, PINC continues to push forward with cutting-edge technologies such as drone cycle counting and cloud-based inventory tracking.

Contact us to learn more about our high-tech warehouse management solutions and transform your supply chain today.

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Matt Yearling

Written by Matt Yearling

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