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Rugged Tablet PCs: Intelligence for Inventory

Managing inventory in the food and beverage industry is a task that is riddled with complexities. In addition to calculating the quantities of the different products that you need to maintain as well as deciding where to store those products, the inventory management process involves figuring out when, where and how to store and source necessary supplies, such as packaging materials. As a strategy for improving operational efficiency and reducing errors associated with inventory management, many companies in the food and beverage industry are turning to automated software solutions, which they can access using rugged tablet PCs.

Rugged Tablet PC for Food and Beverage DistributionThe need for more technologically advanced inventory management systems in the food and beverage industry arose -- in part -- as a result of the Stock Keeping Unit or SKU “explosion.” New SKUs, which are numbers (or strings of alpha/numeric characters) that uniquely identify specific products, have been popping up more and more frequently. This SKU explosion has put added pressure on the food and beverage product supply chain, making managing inventory a considerably more complex process. Suppliers use SKUs to track the amounts of products in their inventories as well as the amounts of products that have been sold. But as food and beverage companies expand their product lines and SKUs grow by the hundreds, managing inventories with traditional, paper-based systems is becoming increasingly inefficient and impractical.

Rugged Tablet PC for Food and Beverage DistributionSo how can distributors in the food and beverage industry cope with the growing complexities associated with modern inventory management? The answer: equip workers with rugged tablet PCs that run automated warehouse management system (WMS) software programs. WMS software records every case and pallet of product from the time it arrives on a receiving dock right up until the time it is loaded on a delivery truck. Furthermore, the software can automatically direct the movements of these cases and pallets, which reduces risk of error. By utilizing a WMS on a rugged tablet PC (combined with date coding), warehouse staff can know where to store each case or pallet of product to ensure the most efficient retrieval. A WMS can then instruct workers which specific cases or pallets to pull according to the deliveries that need to be made each day.

Rugged Tablet PC for Food and Beverage DistributionWith the help of rugged tablet PCs, food and beverage distributors can also increase the bulk deliveries they make to chains, which is a growing industry trend. While it is not a new practice, integrating normal sales operations with bulk deliveries is made simpler by WMS software. Workers can use the software to access sales and operational efficiency data to determine where and when it makes the most sense to use bulk or normal delivery approaches. In this way, rugged tablet PCs allow you to optimize routes and loads on the fly when orders come pouring in early in the day. As a result, you can plan out bulk routes in waves and significantly increase bulk deliveries.

In the future, rugged tablet PCs could take an even more prominent role in improving inventory management in the food and beverage industry. Instead of simply planning out storage, loading and delivery procedures with WMS software, a tablet PC could serve as a direct line to controlling mechanized warehouse equipment. Some soft drink bottling plants, for example, already have automated inventory retrieval and guided storage systems; systems that you could conveniently manage with a rugged tablet PC.

As the food and beverage industry becomes increasingly more complex, companies need to adapt in order to meet inventory needs. By deploying rugged tablet PCs, your company can take advantage of the latest inventory software and optimize both profitability and operational efficiency.

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