Product flow

 

No matter how big your warehouse or how much you have to store, there’s always a few small items that can fall through the cracks. Literally, in some cases.

If you deal in small components like electronics parts or hardware, it can be much harder to get an accurate number of how many products you have on-hand and make inventory adjustments as needed. Starting to sound familiar? Here’s a few tips we think might help you stop losing those tiny items:

 

Barcode vs. no barcode

For starters, making a change in how you track these items might have a big impact on things. Most small items—electrical transistors, nuts and bolts, batteries, etc—can be tracked in bulk if they’re not being individually sold. If you absolutely need to have a barcode on every individual item, you may need to consider bagging them with a barcode printed on the bag for easier access. It might be a little more of an upfront cost but the savings in labor and time will make it more than worth it.

 

Track the entire bin

Let’s say you don’t need to barcode each item individually but you still need an easy place to keep and track them. A common solution that works for a number of inventory tracking products is to take plastic storage bins with a large, easily scanned barcode on the front to help with tracking, and then inputting the current on-hand number of items manually. (Of course, counting these items is a whole separate issue…)

 

Keep it in transition

For small items that don’t need individual tags but are a total hassle to individually manage, some warehouses use ‘transition bags’ to help with the counting, if not the long-term storage. After retrieving the individual items from whatever wire shelving or metal shelves they’re stored on, it may be useful to keep them in a temporary bag with a barcode so you can piece out the items one-by-one and scan the barcode when the counting is done.

 

Snap a picture

For the ultimate in time-saving tip, several phone apps and computer programs exist that may speed along the counting process. By taking the highest-resolution picture you can, these apps can help count each individual item in a given picture and present you with a total. This is a good solution for any warehouse that has access to decent phones or mobile devices (such as Android devices or iPhones/iPads) and can save a lot of time in the long run by mitigating the need to count each item on its own.

 

Use QR codes

Finally, if barcodes aren’t a viable option due to size and space concerns, QR codes can be printed more legibly at small sizes and can be easily tagged where needed. Make sure your inventory scanners can work with both QR codes and traditional barcodes and find what solution works best for the items your team specializes in.

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