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Inventory Management Systems: Equipment & Workflow Research Paper


Introduction

For the past several decades, due to the development of computers and other electronic systems, doing business has become much easier than before. Information technologies have allowed making important business calculations much faster and more accurate. Particularly, inventory management systems are special software and hardware used for tracking orders, deliveries and sales, inventory levels, and other documents related to production. They also allow companies to organize data that was previously stored in the form of spreadsheets. Thus, to make this system work, the special electronic equipment and people who will operate it are needed.

The Required Equipment

The main purpose of inventory systems is to control inventory levels, thereby reducing the possibility of overstock or understock situations. To increase efficiency and accuracy in handling inventories, most businesses use barcode technology. The barcode reads at the cash register, while the data of inventory sales transmit the information to a wider system that calculates the statistics.

Companies use this information when they are going to buy a certain product taking into account inventory levels and sales. Additionally, barcode technologies are capable of handling inventory at the warehouses level. Warehouses usually utilize radio frequency identification (RFID) to scan newly come inventory and add it to the warehouse system software (Emerson, 2017). Thus, the basic hardware equipment that uses barcode technologies and is required for successful inventory management includes a desktop PC, laptop, router, barcode scanner, barcode printer, fax, and mobile devices.

Thus, the first device my sister would need in her business is a desktop PC or a laptop. Nowadays, it is more common to use laptops rather than desktop PCs, as they are more mobile. However, in inventory management, it will not likely to be moved frequently, that is why it does not matter what to choose. This device will allow my sister to control her sales and inventory levels (“Hardware inventory,” 2016). Also, this device should have wireless access.

The second important device, which will improve my sister’s inventory management, is a wireless router. It can create a private computer network and connect it to the internet. Thus, having all devices connected to one network will allow the fast and accurate transfer of information concerning inventory management, which, in turn, will increase the company’s performance by several times.

The third device required for successful inventory management is a barcode scanner. A barcode scanner is an electronic device that reads and transfers printed barcodes to a laptop or PC. This device will allow my sister to significantly reduce the time needed for organizing inventory. Without this device, employees have to spend too much time organizing the inventory, which considerably decreases the overall efficiency of a company. The next device required for managing inventory levels is a barcode printer (“Hardware inventory,” 2016). It is a device used for printing barcode tags and labels that can be attached either on different objects directly or on items made of special materials that are stuck to various inventory devices.

Another device needed for handling inventory levels is fax. Despite being relatively outdated and ousted by Internet devices, fax continues to be widely used in the majority of companies. The main reason for this is that faxed contracts with a signed copy are recognized by law, whereas electronic signatures are not. Fax is a device that uses telephonic transmission to send and receive printed material at a large distance (“Hardware inventory,” 2016). Thus, sending and receiving receipts, orders, reports, contracts, and so on, is an indispensable part of any business.

One more important device that can help in managing inventory is a mobile device. Nowadays, due to the active development of mobile devices, they have many functions including those that help in business, particularly, in inventory management. In this respect, the main advantage of mobile devices is that they are almost always connected to the Internet and support many applications that are designed specifically for inventory management (“Hardware inventory,” 2016). Although they will neither accelerate the process nor increase efficiency, they will provide convenience, as my sister, as well as other members of the staff, will be able to access the information about inventory and sales from anywhere they like.

The Overall Cost for the Required Equipment

Even though the price for all the mentioned devices separately is not very high, the total amount of money will be significant, as there will be several devices needed. Maintenance costs can also be rather high. Additionally, the software that is needed for inventory management and is installed on a laptop, PC, and mobile phone will cost a considerable sum of money.

Thus, the average price for a desktop PC is around $500. The average price for a laptop is a little higher and equals $700. The average price for the Apple laptop is $1,500, which is twice as much (Emerson, 2017). However, the performance of an average PC or laptop should be enough for the program of managing sales and inventory to function without errors.

In terms of a barcode scanner and a barcode printer, the average price is $180 and $70 respectively. The average price for a wireless router is around $50. As for the fax, the average price is nearly $500. However, in business, people usually use high-quality fax machines to ensure successful transmission of important documents (Emerson, 2017). Therefore, the price of such a fax can reach $1,000. Finally, the average price for a smartphone is $300.

In terms of software, the price is even higher. For example, the price for one of the most well-known programs used for inventory management called Fishbowl is nearly $5,000, which is quite expensive. Additionally, an application for the smartphone that allows connecting it to the barcode scanner or perform other inventory-related operations can cost approximately $1,000 (Emerson, 2017). Thus, taking into account the prices for all the equipment mentioned above and, besides, maintenance expenses that can reach $500 per year, the total amount of money needed for a successful start of this kind of business will be approximately $8500 excluding the additional expenses in case of unpredictable circumstances.

Maintenance

Maintenance is also a crucial part of any business, as the equipment needed for the successful performance of any company can be easily broken down. There are many reasons for this to happen, such as overheat, factory defects, mechanical damage, and others. Newly bought items are usually under warranty but this is not always the case. Therefore, it is necessary to be ready for such unfortunate events and have additional money for repair or complete substitution of the broken device.

Additionally, because the most expensive device can break, the amount of money needed to buy a new one will be significant. Moreover, it can also take quite a lot of time to buy a substitute (Emerson, 2017). However, in general, it is quite rare that a device is completely broken. In most cases, they simply need repairing which is not so costly.

Workflow System

The principle of the workflow with the devices analyzed above is quite simple. A person uses a barcode scanner to scan the item. The scanner is connected to the Internet with the help of a wireless router. The wireless router creates a local network, to which a desktop PC or a laptop is connected. If there is a mobile device available, it will be also connected to the router. In their turn, a barcode printer and fax are connected to the laptop or PC and are ready to print and send any information concerning the inventory. Thus, picture 1 below shows the basic principle of the workflow involving the devices needed for inventory management:

Workflow system.
Picture 1. Workflow system.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be stated that the automated system that helps manage inventory makes any company much more efficient, as it saves much time and improves accuracy. Most importantly, it is possible to use a fully automated system that even has a small budget. Certainly, the prices for some of the equipment are rather high, but there are always cheaper alternatives that can be used at the beginning and then be substituted by their high-quality more expensive equivalents. The price for the maintenance is usually not very high except for those cases, in which the only option is to buy a new device. However, such cases are rare.

References

Emerson, M. (2017). . Huffington Post. Web.

. (2016). Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, November 10). Inventory Management Systems: Equipment & Workflow. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/inventory-management-systems-equipment-amp-workflow/

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IvyPanda. "Inventory Management Systems: Equipment & Workflow." November 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/inventory-management-systems-equipment-amp-workflow/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Inventory Management Systems: Equipment & Workflow." November 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/inventory-management-systems-equipment-amp-workflow/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Inventory Management Systems: Equipment & Workflow'. 10 November.

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