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Utilizing RF enabled mobile applications for Inventory Management

Companies are moving towards RF enabled mobile applications for some of the Inventory Management functions by developing new transactions. What is the best practice to utilize mobile technologies within Inventory Management?

Companies are moving towards RF enabled mobile applications for some of the Inventory Management functions by developing new transactions.

What is the best practice to utilize mobile technologies within Inventory Management?

I would like to start addressing this question with SCM solutions in general with respect to RF enabled applications.

The development of enterprise solutions geared towards RF enabled solutions is very pertinent in today's SCM landscape.

Companies planning their supply chain management solutions have to consider the fast growing mobile technologies and empower their workforce with these applications that are expected to improve employee productivity, operational efficiency and flexibility. In many cases division or departments within an organization would have gone ahead in implementing their version of what is considered a "best solution".

The problem in this area is the disparate growth in various parts of an organization which will become a nightmare when implementing a final and consistent organization wide solution.

A lot of organizations may not be ready to come up with an answer for an enterprise-wide solution at this stage, do to rapid changes both in technology and in applications available in the market.

It would be part of the best practice to come up an integral strategy and policy for approaching the mobile applications.

Some of these strategies, which would also be relevant to inventory management, would be to:

  • Create a group that has its pulses on the current technological advances in the market and can evaluate any proposal by the organization.
  • Treat mobile applications similar to the desktop applications with respect to infrastructure strategy. The mobile infrastructure is only part of a larger enterprise and not part of a separate initiative.
  • Partner with a consulting company/solution provider who will be focused on the enterprise as a whole vis-à-vis niche application providers who might be good in one area but might be completely helpless in others. The tasks of integrating these two areas would then become onerous. The end goal would be to create an infrastructure that is interoperable and meet special requirements but at the same time work with a wide set of applications.
  • Think in terms of architecture. Choose a solution working in a platform that is extensible from the box and can be ramped up with short notice and does not take much trouble to maintain and needs minimal development for simple changes.

Some of the inventory management solutions are called pure-play RFID solutions and provide simple standalone solutions such as inventory stock counts, lead-time and dwell-time analysis. While these may provide value in the short term, the real value lies in using these to transform long term business process.

The best practice for using mobile technologies in Inventory management is based on the principles similar to what is listed above.

RFID technology for inventory management should:

  • Be able to manage a large amount of RFID data and is scalable and instantaneous.
  • Be able to use RFID adapters to integrate into current Inventory systems.
  • Seamlessly integrate the technology into a broad range of existing processes and systems which are integrated to Inventory management.
  • Be able to build new applications and technologies that support new business concepts that are based on RFID.
  • Minimize RFID data replication.
  • Be secure in terms of authorization and is has minimal occurrence of errors.
  • Supports the exchange of information with business partners in a collaborative scenario.
This was last published in July 2007

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