What is a Warehouse Inventory Tracking System?

monitoring inventory levels

Below is a guide to warehouse inventory and asset tracking systems that companies use to manage their inventory efficiently. Companies with the right warehouse systems or inventory management systems can build the very best warehouse imaginable. The guide will help you define the need for your business, how you can organize, and how you can track inventory.

A Warehouse Inventory Tracking System allows for inventory control, which is a critical business process for any company dealing with physical products. The production and customer fulfillment processes depend on it, and so does the revenue generation. Inventory control is often part of the warehouse operations and is in the hands of the warehouse manager.

The Warehouse Inventory Tracking System is part of the Warehouse Management System (or Warehouse Inventory Management System) and is used to refer to the combination of business processes, procedures, warehouse inventory management software, and human resources used for performing the inventory tracking. The Warehouse Management System in itself is part of the larger supply chain management process.

Keeping Track of Inventory in a Warehouse

Inventory management is the process of knowing how much of each stock-keeping unit the warehouse contains at any time, and where the items are.

To track inventory in a warehouse, solid processes need to be combined with good warehouse management software, usually part of a larger ERP software solution. Real-time Inventory Tracking enables real-time inventory management and is usually a prerequisite to be able to support state-of-the-art warehouse inventory management processes. Real-time Inventory Tracking requires an RTLS system in addition to the Warehouse Management System, see below.

Forklift tracking is not required to track inventory. It is actually another of the warehouse management features and part of the larger warehouse management system where one wishes to optimize forklift driving routes or assign tasks to forklifts more efficiently, such as the forklift that is near the location of the task being assigned to it.

warehouse inventory tracking system

What Is a Warehouse Inventory Tracking System Also Known as Warehouse Management System (WMS)?

The most basic function of a WMS is to manage inventory stored in the warehouse. It provides inventory count, tracks inventory items that are available, those that are out of stock, and those that have to be replenished. Warehouse tracking will also keep track of the location of the goods within the warehouse space and help the warehouse operator pinpoint the location within the warehouse layout.

Some WMSs’ have a built-in order management system and support various inventory management strategies, creating purchase orders, etc. They often allow for centralized inventory management, keep track of best-selling items, can be operated from any device and can work for you exactly how you want. Some WMSs support picking and packing as well as packing and shipping across multiple sales channels, as well as this some WMSs directly interface with the manufacturing process. They transfer stock between warehouse locations and help you to grow your business.

Which Is the Most Popular Inventory Tracker Software?

The most popular inventory tracking softwares are those that support the best practices for warehouse inventory. The software integrates with your supply chain. Most notably, the most popular softwares are those that integrate with RTLS systems, see below.
warehouse management system

How Can a WMS Increase Productivity in a Company

A WMS will typically aid you to optimize your warehouse. As an inventory management solution it provides warehouse stock management and helps you in running an efficient warehouse.

A WMS can also keep track of the value of your inventory based on the quantity of items and their individual value.

By augmenting warehouse management and inventory software with a Real-Time Location System aka Indoor Location Tracking system (see below), the combined solution will improve your warehouse inventory management

monitoring inventory levels

Inventory Tracking Use Cases With an RTLS Solution

A Real-Time Location System (RTLS) complements WMS software. Whenever an item enters, exits, or is moved within the warehouse, the software depends on updating the location so it can accurately track these movements. An RTLS automates this process by physically tracking where the items are and sending the change to the WMS software in real time. An RTLS is often called an Indoor Location Tracking system. The RTLS and the WMS software together form a Digital Twin system, where the physical item is always accurately represented by the virtual item in the software. They update inventory location of the goods automatically.

RTLS systems use several technologies to track the items, such as Ultra-Wideband (UWB), WIREPAS, and Bluetooth. A little device called a Tag is attached to the items being tracked, such as a UWB tag or Bluetooth beacons. The difference between a UWB tag and a WIREPAS tag or Bluetooth beacons tag is primarily in the degree of position accuracy it can achieve, with the UWB tag providing the best-in-class accuracy. 

An RTLS needs to know the physical layout of your warehouse. You typically upload the layout of your warehouse to the RTLS system.

Monitoring Inventory Levels

An RTLS provides true warehouse automation. It automates the warehouse processes by providing real-time visibility into inventory levels, keeps track of inventory records, displaying the inventory in real-time within a warehouse, and it can even do warehouse employee tracking.
workspace inventory

Monitoring Workspace Inventory

The RTLS monitors the workspace inventory by providing real-time visibility into inventory. To monitor your warehouse and keep track of inventory across multiple sites the WMS management software can help you to achieve effective inventory management by monitoring inventory levels in real-time.
pallet tracking

Differences Between Tracking Pallets Indoor and GPS Pallet Tracking

The difference between the technology for indoor (pallet) tracking and GPS (pallet) tracking is substantial. GPS tracking uses the satellites overhead to determine the position on the face of the earth. It only works if there is an unobstructed line between the tracking device and the satellite, or at most a single reflection. So a GPS device does not work in a warehouse due to the obstruction of the building itself.

For indoor tracking, a network of ‘Anchor’ devices needs to be spread out over the warehouse, to serve as the ‘local satellites’.

steel tracking system

Steel Tracking System and Other Metals

An example where an RTLS system provides significant value is in the tracking of steel coils in a steel manufacturing plant. A steel coil is basically a roll of steel plate wound onto itself to form a large and heavy unit that can easily be handled and transported. 

Steel coils are an example of high-value items that your workflow should address.