Mobile Applications For Inventory Management, Data Collection And Workflow


Effective Real-Time Inventory Management: Common Inventory Problems And Solutions



In the last several years that we are offering QR Inventory - a mobile inventory system with real-time inventory tracking - we had identified the most common inventory and assets related problems that companies are facing. Many of these problems are not directly addressed by the traditional inventory management systems. This article is a summary of these situations and solutions offered by QR Inventory. If you need to manage out-of-office assets and inventory in real time and cannot find an acceptable solution, read on. See if you have one or more of the problems listed here, and if so, how QR Inventory can help you solve it (or them) and manage inventory efficiently.

Inventory Stock, Transactions And Accountability

Problem: We do not know what inventory we have on hand, and constantly running out of the materials and supplies. When technicians need materials or parts, they have no way of finding out if these parts are available, and the nearest warehouse (or another service van) where these parts are. This leads to lost time and projects not finished on time.


Solution: QR Inventory makes it easy to track and check inventory in real time. Your employees can use regular smartphones, that they always have in their pockets, for barcode scanning and processing assets and inventory transactions. No matter how many locations you have, whether these are stationary locations, remote job sites or company trucks, and how many employees are handling assets and inventory, all transactions can be easily recorded in real time, as they happen.

All updates are submitted to a centralized cloud location and are immediately available to all authorized employees. Everyone has an access to the up to the minute inventory stock and locations.

Your field technicians can check stock of parts and materials on their smartphones, and pick up what they need in the closest location. An employee can also send a request for materials reservation to the warehouse from a smartphone.

QR Inventory will send you automatic alerts when the inventory drops below the level that you set in the application, so you always can re-order everything on time and never run out of stock again.



Problem: We have no accountability of how supplies and materials are used. Need to know what is used for what project, make sure that inventory is not missing, misplaced or lost.


Solution: QR Inventory allows you to define what data you need to track for each type of inventory transaction. These can include a job number, project, client, or any other information applicable to your business workflow. You define what do you want to keep track of using the web dashboard, and your employees will be able to fill out this information in QR Inventory mobile application when processing inventory transactions.

QR Inventory reports can be filtered by the custom fields you created, so you will be able to see exactly what, when and how much you used for each job, project or client over the selected period of time. If you have QR Inventory accounting module or include integration with an accounting software (such as QuickBooks, Xero, or Sage-Intacct), you will be able to automate invoicing based on this information.



Problem: My employees have inventory in the company trucks / service vans. Need an easy way for them to report inventory usage, and get alerts when they are low on inventory.


Solution: With QR Inventory you will be able to track inventory in multiple locations, including company trucks and vans. You can (optionally) assign employees to the specific locations so that each employee can only manage inventory in his / her van. Each employee will be able to track inventory usage by scanning QR code labels with a smartphone. Administrator(s) will see at a glance what is available in each van, how inventory was used and receive low inventory alerts when it is time to re-order parts / materials.



Problem: We have multiple sites where we are shipping equipment and inventory. Need a way to easily track all transactions and collect signatures. Should be able to search and access records on demand.


Solution: QR Inventory makes it easy to record all transactions on site in real time, using regular smartphones for barcode / QR code scanning and data entry. You can define many aspects of your inventory tracking process yourself via the web dashboard. Specifically, you can create transaction types that you need, and define what data do you need to collect for each transaction. Collected information can include images taken with a smartohone camera, and signatures. QR Inventory also captures GPS location of the transaction, so you have a full accountability.

Submitted transactions are stored in a centralized cloud location, and can be accessed on-demand from anywhere via the web dashboard. You can search records by multiple parameters to find required information fast.



Problem: Need lot number tracking for traceability.


Solution: With QR Inventory you can track materials and product batches by SKU, lot number or serial number. You can create custom fields to record all information on each product batch / lot number (such as production date, vendor, instruments or containers used in production, etc.). If necessary, you can record additional observations during the production process of each lot / product batch using mobile forms.

Once final product is finished, you can track its distribution to the customers, and record additional information (e.g. tracking numbers). In case of a problem, you can quickly find where an affected product batch was distributed plus all associated details, and issue a recall.



Assets And Equipment Management

Problem: Work tools are missing or lost, and we have no idea who took them and when. We constantly have to spend money to purchase new tools.


Solution: QR Inventory mobile application allows your employees to check tools in and out by scanning QR code or barcode label with a smartphone. You can have warehouse manager check tools in and out to employees, or allow employees to do it themselves. Either way, you will have a real time access to the tools location, know on which site and for which project the tool is being used, who has it, and which tools are available for the upcoming projects.

All tools transactions, including check-ins, check-outs, repairs, calibration, etc. are recorded, so you can review an entire life-cycle history of each tool.



Problem: We need to track loaned / rented / borrowed assets / samples / demo units. Right now we do not know who has what and when it is supposed to be returned.


Solution: With QR Inventory you will know exactly where each asset / demo unit is, who has it, for how long and when it is supposed to be returned. You will be able to organize assets, label them with QR codes, and check them in and out by scanning QR code label with a smartphone. QR Inventory lets you define what data to collect for each transaction (client, due date, notes, etc.). Optionally you can use a smartphone to take photos and document asset conditions at checkout and return.
In addition to tracking assets check ins and check outs, you can track all other applicable transactions (for example, send a unit to repair). The complete lifetime transactions history of each asset is recorded and is accessible via reports.



Problem: We do not have a way of tracking office assets. Need to organize them, track assignment to employees, and make sure nothing is missing.


Solution: QR Inventory will help you get office assets tracking off the ground fast. You will be able to use pre-printed QR code labels to tag assets, scan them and enter into the system on site using a smartphone. You won't have to create paper records on site then enter all assets into the system manually - everything can be accomplished at once. Custom fields will allow you to store all required information on the assets. Authorized users can access this information, and with the correct permissions - edit, by scanning QR code label with a smartphone.

For IT assets and electronics that you want to track by serial number, you will not need to enter each single item separately. Enter item type (e.g. hard drive, computer, router) and all characteristics once then scan in or paste all serial numbers.

Once all assets are in the system, you can track everything that is happening to an asset (assignment to an employee, physical relocation, sending to repair, etc.) using smartphones for barcode scanning and data entry. You can access reports on assets location and an entire lifetime history via the admin web dashboard.



Problem: We have equipment assigned to multiple projects. Need a way to track where each piece of equipment is, record equipment maintenance and have easily accessible records.


Solution: QR Inventory will allow you to track equipment relocation / project assignment in real time using a smartphone for barcode scanning and data entry. If applicable, you can create custom mobile forms to accompany equipment transactions and record any additional information. As a result, you will know where your equipment is, for what project it is being used, what do you have on hand for upcoming projects, and review equipment lifetime history.

In addition to tracking assets / equipment locations and usage, you will be able to create custom mobile forms to track equipment service and maintenance on a smartphone. You will have digital maintenance records accessible on demand from anywhere and will receive automatic alerts when next preventive maintenance is due.



Problem: Our employees do not have a way to access information on the asset / equipment they are working with. They need to access information easily to perform their job. Want to use QR codes so that they could access all required information on their smartphones.


Solution: Field technicians often need an access to the information on the asset or equipment they are working with. It is an easy task if you have QR Inventory. Using QR Inventory mobile application your employees can access all required information on an item instantly by scanning QR code label with a smartphone. Information can include item specs, pdf documentation, images, drawings, past maintenance and service records, and anything else you need. You define what data your employees should be able to access in the field via an admin web dashboard.



Barcode Scanning, Real Time Information Access

Problem: Our way of tracking inventory is very inefficient. Need barcode scanning capabilities to increase efficiency and minimize errors.


Solution: QR Inventory has several options for barcode / QR code scanning. You can use smartphones for scanning, and save money on purchasing scanning hardware. If you need faster / more advanced scanning than smartphone camera can offer, you can use a bluetooth barcode scanner connected to a smartphone. QR Inventory mobile application is natively integrated with bluetooth barcode scanners. Android application will work with any bluetooth barcode scanner, iOS application - with SocketMobile line of barcode scanners.

In addition to barcodes or QR codes, you can also use NFC tags (scan them with Android smartphones - no extra hardware required), or RFID tags (scan them with bluetooth RFID scanner attached to the Android smartphone).

Finally, if you prefer to process inventory transactions on a computer, you can use barcode scanner connected to the computer.



Problem: We have employees in multiple field and / or office locations, and need them to be able to have access to the same real-time information. Need a centralized data storage, accessible to all employees in real time for data update and review.


Solution: QR Inventory is a cloud system. Data stored in a centralized location is available to the authorized employees in real time, on the smartphones in the field and on the computers in the office. QR Inventory provides two-way live information flow: inventory transactions and data collected via mobile forms is submitted to a central database, and immediately becomes available for review to all system users based on their access privileges.



Assemblies, Work In Progress Tracking And Traceability

Problem: We are assembling some products from the parts / components, and we often realize that we do not have necessary components when assemblies building is in progress. We need a way to tie in assemblies building to the inventory and materials, know what we had used and what do we need when the new order comes.


Solution: QR Inventory will automate assemblies building process for you. You will be able to create composition list (BOM) for all assemblies and track the process of physically building assemblies on the shop floor with a smartphone. When you record assembly building, components that you had used are automatically subtracted from the inventory, and created assemblies are added.

At any time you can check how many assemblies you can build from the inventory on hand, what do you need to order to build a specified number of assemblies and what was used for each project.



Problem: We create custom products on demand, and need to be able to track work in progress and know lot numbers / serial numbers of components for the warranty and repairs.


Solution: QR Inventory allows you to build serialized assemblies in multiple steps. Each time you do something with an assembly, you can track what was installed, and if necessary record additional information for each step on the shop floor using a regular smartphone for barcode scanning and data entry. At any moment you can check the project progress, what is installed on each assembly and associated records.

You can track an entire process of an assembly building, from start to finish, and beyond that: keep traceability data after shipping product to the customer. If your products require maintenance, service, and repairs after they are delivered to the customer, QR Inventory helps you with this part as well. You can review serial number / lot number of the components and their history, record part replacement and maintenance on the smartphone using custom mobile forms. Digital records of the service history are kept in a centralized cloud database and can be accessed on demand on a smartphone and via the web dashboard.



Problem: Need traceability for government certification, due to the government or external requirements.


Solution: QR Inventory will help you achieve a complete traceability. It is up to you to decide how simple or complex your system should be.

If you only want to track batch numbers of the final product, you can do this. You will be able to enter any parameters you need for the batch production and specify how each batch was distributed when processing inventory transactions. You can then quickly pull out a list of clients who received a specified batch in case of the recall.

If you have higher traceability requirements and want to track final product components or ingredients by lot numbers - QR Inventory allows you to do this as well. If a problem with the component is reported by a vendor, you can quickly find where the problem component had been used.

You can go even further, and add tracking of the production process. This will allow you to track each product batch / assembly through the production steps, and record relevant information on each step. You can record serial numbers of the production equipment (instruments, containers, tanks, etc.), what was done, fill out quality control forms and checklists. All collected information is stored in a centralized location and is accessible to everyone involved in the project in real time.

This will give you a complete traceability solution. In case of a problem with the final product, you will be able to restore every step and pinpoint where in the process the problem could have happened. You can then find all items that might be affected by the same problem, whether it is related to the production equipment (e.g. contaminated container), bad ingredient, or something else.

Regardless of the level of traceability you select, you will be able to do all tracking on site using a smartphone. You will be using a smartphone or tablet for scanning of the lot and serial numbers, recording assemblies building, inventory transactions, and filling out mobile forms. The entire process paperwork is stored in a centralized location and can be accessed on demand from anywhere via the web dashboard.



Collecting Data, Filling Out Forms, Eliminating Physical Paperwork

Problem: Need to automate the process of filling out various forms and producing the required documentation. Our current manual process is very inefficient.


Solution: You will be able to streamline data collection process, and convert all physical paperwork to the digital records. Using a web dashboard, you can create custom forms for all your data collection needs, whether these are inspections, quality control, materials testing, facility walk-through, safety checks or anything else.

Your employees will fill out the forms on site on their mobile devices. Each filled out form will automatically be attributed to a business object - a project, equipment, property or other objects you are dealing with in your business. An employee will scan QR code on the object to uniquely identify it, then get a list of forms related to the scanned object.

Collected data are submitted to a centralized cloud database so that all employees participating in the project have access to the up-to-date information.

You can review records on demand, search by multiple parameters to find required information, export data and convert to pdf documents. You define look and layout of the PDF documents with custom templates.



Problem: Our employees need to perform routine procedures and they often miss something. Need to have a checklist that they could easily refer to and check off completed tasks for accountability.


Solution: Using QR Inventory you can create checklists that will consist of multiple Yes/No, Pass/Fail, Completed/Not-Completed type fields, along with other types of fields if needed (e.g. notes). You can include instructions, clarifying text and image(s) so that your employees know exactly what to do or check.

Your employees will download the checklist(s) / forms on their mobile devices, and check off each task as it is completed. The checklist will guide an employee and will ensure that important tasks are not missed or forgotten.

Completed checklists are submitted to a centralized cloud location, where administrators can access them in real time.



Workflow And Process Tracking

Problem: We are producing custom products on demand and do not have a way to track projects status and progress. This causes delays and incorrect work steps performed. Need to be able to track all projects through the stages, and all authorized employees to be able to access and update project information as it moves along.


Solution: Using QR Inventory, you can create a number of workflows, define steps, and track items / projects through the process, from start to finish, using smartphones and QR code scanning. You can create custom mobile forms for data collection and attach them to the corresponding production steps (e.g. quality control forms, testing forms, inspections, and checklists). Your employees will be able to move the project through the steps and fill out mobile forms on the smartphones.

The entire team has live access to everything in production and projects progress. You can review the entire history of each project in one place: what steps were performed, who did what, what data were collected and all completed forms. You can do it while the project is in progress and after the project completion.



Problem: We do not have a way to track what standard operating procedures where performed, when and what was done. Need a way to track procedures and processes.


Solution: With QR Inventory you can make sure that your employees follow all required steps. You can implement checklists for the short procedures (such as safety inspections, facility walk-through, maintenance tasks), and workflows for the longer procedures that can span multiple days or months (e.g. tracking growing trees in the nursery, from planting to harvest). You can attach form(s) / checklist(s) to each workflow step for data collection and record keeping.

You create checklists, forms and workflows via the web dashboard. Include all tasks that need to be done, instructions, clarifying text and images. Your employees access checklists and forms on the smartphone after scanning QR code on the relevant object, whether it is a product, equipment, property, plant, or anything else. They then fill out checklists / forms and submit to a centralized cloud database.

You can access all submitted forms via an admin web dashboard, see at a glance what was done, when and by whom. Multiple filters (dates, object, form, fields in the form) allow you to find required information fast. You can review data online, export into a delimited text file and / or create PDF files based on the completed forms.



Will QR Inventory solve your inventory management problems? Sign up for the video demo or test drive and check out for yourself.

 

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