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Radio Frequency Identification RFID allows a business to identify individual products and components, and to track them throughout the supply chain from production to point-of-sale. An RFID tag is a tiny microchip, plus a small aerial, which can contain a range of digital information about the particular item. Tags are encapsulated in plastic, paper or similar material, and fixed to the product or its packaging, to a pallet or container, or even to a van or delivery truck.

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The tag is interrogated by an RFID reader which transmits and receives radio signals to and from the tag. Readers can range in size from a hand-held device to a "portal" through which several tagged devices can be passed at once, e. The information that the reader collects is collated and processed using special computer software. Readers can be placed at different positions within a factory or warehouse to show when goods are moved, providing continuous inventory control.

Using RFID tagging for stock control offers several advantages over other methods such as barcodes:. The costs associated with RFID tagging have fallen over recent years, and continue to do so, to bring the process within the reach of more and more businesses. The benefits of more efficient stock control and improved security make it particularly attractive to retailers, wholesalers or distributors who stock a wide range of items, and to manufacturers who produce volume runs of products for different customers.

Keeping stock secure depends on knowing what you have, where it is located and how much it is worth - so good records are essential. Stock that is portable, does not feature the business' logo, or is easy to sell on, is at particular risk. A thief coming in from outside is an obvious threat. Check the security around your premises to keep the risk to a minimum. In a store, thieves may steal in groups - some providing a distraction while others take goods. Teach your staff to be alert and to recognise behaviour like this.

Set up a clear policy and make sure staff are trained in dealing with thieves. Offering to help a customer if you are suspicious will often prevent a theft. Avoid using confrontational words like "steal" if you do have to approach a suspected thief, and avoid getting into a dangerous situation. Quality control is a vital aspect of stock control - especially as it may affect the safety of customers or the quality of the finished product.

Efficient stock control should incorporate stock tracking and batch tracking. This means being able to trace a particular item backwards or forwards from source to finished product, and identifying the other items in the batch. Goods should be checked systematically for quality, faults identified and the affected batch weeded out. This will allow you to raise any problems with your supplier and at the same time demonstrate the safety and quality of your product. With a good computerised stock control system, this kind of tracking is relatively straightforward.

Manual stock control methods can also use codes to systematise tracking and make it easier to trace particular batches. Radio Frequency Identification RFID can be used to store information about a product or component's manufacturing date, to ensure that it is sold or processed in time.

The system can also be used to trace faulty products quickly and efficiently. There are many administrative tasks associated with stock control. Depending on the size and complexity of your business, they may be done as part of an administrator's duties, or by a dedicated stock controller. For security reasons, it's good practice to have different staff responsible for finance and stock. Stock can tie up a large slice of your business capital, so accurate information about stock levels and values is essential for your company's accounting.

Figures should be checked systematically, either through a regular audit of stock - stocktaking - or an ongoing program of checking stock - rolling inventory. If the figures don't add up, you need to investigate as there could be stock security problems or a failure in the system.


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Health and safety aspects of stock control are related to the nature of the stock itself. Issues such as where and how items are stored, how they are moved and who moves them might be significant - depending on what they are. You might have hazardous materials on your premises, goods that deteriorate with time or items that are very heavy or awkward to move.

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The address of this page is: Click on one of the two buttons to access the content you wish to view. Guide Stock control and inventory Share on: Types of stocks How much stock should you keep? Stock control methods Stock control systems - keeping track manually Stock control systems - keeping track using computer software Using RFID for inventory control, stock security and quality management Stock security Control the quality of your stock Stock control administration. Advantages Disadvantages Efficient and flexible - you only have what you need, when you need it Meeting stock needs can become complicated and expensive Lower storage costs You might run out of stock if there's a hitch in the system You can keep up to date and develop new products without wasting stock You are dependent on the efficiency of your suppliers.

Advantages Disadvantages Easy to manage Higher storage and insurance costs Low management costs Certain goods might perish You never run out Stock may become obsolete before it is used Buying in bulk may be cheaper Your capital is tied up. How reliable is the supply and are alternative sources available? Are the components produced or delivered in batches? Can you predict demand? Is the price steady? Are there discounts if you buy in bulk? Minimum stock level - you identify a minimum stock level, and re-order when stock reaches that level. This is known as the Re-order Level. Stock review - you have regular reviews of stock.

At every review you place an order to return stocks to a predetermined level. Stock and pricing data integrating with accounting and invoicing systems. All the systems draw on the same set of data, so you only have to input the data once. Sales Order Processing and Purchase Order Processing can be integrated in the system so that stock balances and statistics are automatically updated as orders are processed.

Automatic stock monitoring, triggering orders when the re-order level is reached. Automatic batch control if you produce goods in batches. Identifying the cheapest and fastest suppliers. Bar coding systems which speed up processing and recording. The software will print and read bar codes from your computer. Radio Frequency Identification RFID which enables individual products or components to be tracked throughout the supply chain. Yet in many companies, senior managers rarely visit plants except during periodic business reviews, and they appear on the shop floor only when a major new capital improvement is to be inspected.

Management interactions with frontline personnel are an extremely powerful performance-management tool. They send a message that employees are respected as experts in their part of the business, give managers an opportunity to act as role models, and can be a quick way to solve problems and identify improvements.

When a senior manager was persuaded to visit the workshop, he was appalled at the dirty, cluttered, and poorly maintained environment. Employees reported chronic underfunding for replacement parts and tools, and asked the manager what it would take to save their jobs. The best companies build performance-management systems that actively help them avoid these pitfalls.


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  6. Such systems share a number of characteristics. Too often, companies measure and manage performance through lagging indicators, such as compliance with monthly output or quality targets. By the time the results are known, it is too late to influence the consequences. The best companies track the same metrics—but also integrate their performance-management systems into critical process inputs. Supervisory control and data acquisition.

    That lets people react long before the variation undercuts output or quality. Some changes require almost no investment in technology. At the end of each workday, for example, production and functional teams can complete a checkout form assessing how it went. As performance-management systems evolve, the metrics they use will become more complex, incorporating continuous rather than discrete variables: Regardless of changes to metrics and targets, the best companies keep the cadence of meetings and reviews constant, so they become an intrinsic part of the rhythm of everyday operations Exhibit 2.

    Standard work, for example, is based on three simple rules.

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    First, there should be a standard for all activities. Second, everyone must have the knowledge and ability to meet that standard. Finally, compliance with it must be monitored and measured. In many functions, the business cycle forces a regular rhythm or cadence: Good companies take advantage of these requirements to define a few central metrics, such as cycle times and accuracy, thus driving continuous improvement across every function.

    Supervisors collect the information on index cards and post them on a lean-idea board. Representatives of each function meet with the plant manager every morning and accept or reject the cards or return them for more information. Every accepted card gets an owner and timeline for completion.

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    A checklist or standard operating procedure that defines the steps and sequences for every key process usually enforces standard work. In employee onboarding, for example, one company noted that small details—assigning email addresses, telephone numbers, and software and hardware access—were especially important for retaining employees early in their tenures. The performance reviews of supervisors now assess how well they handled the onboarding of new employees, and everyone who resigns completes a mandatory exit interview. Standard work is essential at all levels of an organization, including the C-suite and senior management in general.

    Standard work for leaders forces a routine that, while uncomfortable at first, develops expectations throughout an organization. It is those expectations, along with specific metrics, that ultimately drive predictable, sustainable performance. One global resources company now requires managers to demonstrate that they spend 50 percent of their time on a combination of coaching their people and attending safety briefings, shift huddles, improvement reviews, and production meetings.

    To free up time, other meetings are scheduled only on one day a week— and conference rooms no longer have chairs. Taking this approach even further, every autumn a field-services organization commits itself to a comprehensive, enterprise-wide calendar for the entire following year. The calendar sets dates for all conferences, monthly and quarterly management meetings, formal performance reviews, and succession-plan meetings, as well as training and development opportunities.

    All agendas are fixed, and all meetings are subject to strict time limits.

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    There is little need for additional leeway because internal reporting follows tight guidelines for transparency and timeliness: Most industrial companies have access to rich data on the performance of their operations. The technological advances associated with increasing use of automation, advanced analytics, and connected devices mean that this resource constantly improves. But how can organizations best use their data? A crucial part of the answer is instant feedback loops, daily performance dialogues, and routine performance reviews.

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    Stock control and inventory

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