Time is of the essence when it comes to managing your inventory. If you have food products or other goods that have a limited freshness period, expiration dates are a must-have tool to track them by. No matter what goods you sell, it’s important to know their lead times and auto reorder points to make sure they don’t run out. And you can enable employees to track their time on the job and schedule tasks to make sure important things are done properly and in a timely fashion.
Let’s talk more about the five time-based inventory management tools we briefly mentioned above to get a feel for why they are so important to your business.
There are many criteria you can use to track your inventory. These include lot numbers, serial numbers, revision levels, and custom criteria, which are all useful in their own right. But we’re going to focus on expiration dates. Tracking your inventory by expiration date allows you to implement a First In, First Out policy where you cycle through older items before selling or using newer ones. This diminishes the risk of product spoilage and prevents items from getting stale or forgotten on the shelf for excessively long periods of time.
When an item is approaching its expiration date, you know it needs to be sold soon or else scrapped. If you find that certain items frequently reach their expiration dates while in stock, you can make adjustments to how many you keep on the shelf, or you can discount those items to try to boost sales.
Lead Time Calculations
How long does it take from the time you send out a purchase order to the time a new item arrives in your warehouse? This is called lead time. Every item in your inventory has a lead time, and it’s important to know each one and take them into account when reordering. An inventory management solution helps with this because it can store that information for you so you don’t have to keep every item’s lead time in your memory.
If you have more than one vendor you order the same items from, you may want to compare their lead times to see if one is more reliable and efficient. Of course, it’s also a good idea to take other factors into account, such as costs, bulk discounts, and the status of items upon arrival. But lead times are an important component of judging vendor performance, too.
Auto Reorder Points
You can assign auto reorder points to every item in your warehouse. This entails setting a minimum quantity that, once reached, triggers the automatic creation of a purchase order with a default vendor, quantity, shipper, etc. That way, you don’t have to go hunting for items to reorder. They come to you.
Depending on the software you use, you may be able to run a report to see every item that has reached its auto reorder point. Lead times come in handy when setting auto reorder points because, in conjunction with other criteria, they will tell you the minimum number of items to keep in stock to prevent shortages while you’re waiting for a fresh shipment.
Employee Time Tracking
What does employee time tracking have to do with inventory management? If you’re a manufacturer, it is an important factor to take into account when it comes to calculating item costs. An item is more than the sum of its parts. It is also the cost of putting it together, storing it until it can be sold, and more.
By adding labor costs to work orders, you are able to track the amount of time and money spent on manufacturing items. Then you will have a more accurate figure to work with when setting their prices to make a profit. And you can see which items cost more to manufacture and if there might be a way to bring that cost down.
Your time is precious, and it’s not always easy to remember all of the little details that go into running a warehouse or shop floor. To make sure tasks are done at the right times and in the right order, you can schedule them ahead of time. That way, your equipment won’t accidentally get double-booked for two different jobs, and your staff will know who is assigned to specific tasks and when they are expected to be completed.
In addition, you can schedule automatic data exports, data imports, report generation, queries, and more to allow your inventory management software to work in concert with your accounting and other business solutions. Scheduling tasks like these keeps your operation running smoothly.
No Time to Waste
Fishbowl Manufacturing and Fishbowl Warehouse are the #1 manufacturing and warehouse management solutions for QuickBooks. They give you access to all of the time-saving and time-tracking tools we’ve discussed above, plus many more.
Get a free trial of Fishbowl software today to see the many ways it can benefit your business. There’s no time to waste!
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.