Inventory Management Blog Post

Inventory Management’s Crucial Role in the Supply Chain

What is Inventory Management and Why is it Important?

 Inventory management refers to the process of ordering, storing and using a company’s goods or materials. Successfully managing inventory allows businesses to meet the demand level of their consumers with an appropriate amount of supply. Ineffective management can result in excess inventory which runs the risk of spoilage, damage or a shift in demand that causes stock to pile up even further. If inventory isn’t sold before any of these happen, it is often sold at clearance prices or destroyed.

 In a survey of 2,467 U.S. supply chain professionals conducted by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), 58% of respondents reported that inventory management is a top technical skill in their field. It’s an essential component of keeping supply chains running smoothly. Effective inventory management requires a reliable technology platform and communication between all parties involved.

 Without inventory management, businesses would experience higher levels of waste and excess storage costs. Communicating with customers about product availability and estimated shipping dates becomes impossible when accurate and up-to-date information is missing.

 How Can I Improve Inventory Management in My Supply Chain?

 Effective supply chain management starts with technology. Eliminating traditional and often manual strategies saves time and reduces the risk of error. Digitally managing operations makes any information recorded simpler to share across an entire supply chain. If your company has already implemented a transportation management system (TMS), you’re already halfway to full supply chain optimization!

 Transportation management and inventory management are two essential parts of a successful supply chain. Transportation management systems (TMS) deal with the movement of products across the supply chain and provide a necessary platform for carriers, shippers and manufacturers to communicate. Inventory management platforms focus specifically on the quantity and type of product in a warehouse or other storage facility. Together, these pieces of technology form the basis for companies to get their products into the hands of customers as efficiently as possible.

For instance, when a company leverages a TMS to react quickly to a customer’s order, product moves swiftly out of the warehouse and is no longer taking up inventory space. That space is then available for fresher inventory to replace it. Inventory management systems can react to those quick shipments and ensure that the oldest inventory is being shipped first.

Tracking spoiled or faulty inventory is also made easier when inventory management and a TMS work hand in hand. With a TMS, products are tracked down to the SKU level and can be easily traced once they leave the warehouse. When an item is on recall, inventory management teams have all the relevant information they need to find and isolate bad product.

Certain transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS are able to integrate directly with ERPs like NetSuite or Microsoft Dynamics. When integrated, these technologies offer logistics professionals increased shipment accuracy by eliminating the need for manual entry, significant time savings, and access to meaningful analytics for SKU-level cost allocation.  Integrations between a TMS and an ERP can help bridge the gap between inventory management and transportation management by sharing data between systems to make sure all parties involved have accurate, real-time information on inventory.

robots shaping the future of warehouse operations

Robots are Shaping the Future of Warehouse Operations

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics have all become hot topics when it comes to the future of the supply chain. Advanced robotics are already being utilized in warehouses around the world. As robots continue to prove themselves through real-life applications, this field of technology is on course to solidify its presence in warehousing. Here are some examples of companies changing the landscape of supply chain focused robotics.

Companies Shaping the Future of Robotics in Supply Chain

Amazon Robotics

One of the biggest examples of success with robotics in the supply chains is e-commerce leader Amazon. Their Amazon Robotics program utilizes two different forms of robotics that specialize in picking and packing: collaborative systems and non-collaborative systems. Non-collaborative is more prominent within warehouses because it allows employees to stay in place while robots move goods around the warehouse. This method doesn’t require physical interaction between warehouse workers and advanced technology. 

Amazon’s robots carry shelves of products around a chain-link cage using QR codes on the floor for navigation. The shelves are then loaded and unloaded based on order demand by warehouse employees. Amazon’s robots increase fulfillment speed, picking accuracy and make employee tasks less repetitive and sedentary. 

Fetch Robotics

Fetch Robotics has come up with a more independent application of robotics in the warehouse to replace forklifts. They have created freight robots including the automated version of Freight 1,500 (coming later in 2020) and CartConnect500 that can pick up items from one place and move them to another without any human interaction. 

Both of these models have attachable, industrial-grade carts that can carry a variety of containers to improve efficiency and organization. CartConnect500 can transport up to 1,100 pounds while the fully autonomous version of Freight 1,500 will be able to hold 3,300 pounds. The CartConnect500 and other freight-focused robots aim to automate repetitive processes and enable warehouses to operate efficiently with fewer employees doing manual tasks. 


Robots promise to provide increased productivity in warehouses around the world. As new models of non-collaborative and collaborative robotics are integrated into the workplace, it will be interesting to see how they join forces with humans!