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How Fast Can You Count Warehouse Inventory?

Ian Smith

Introduction

In this article, we examine the speed and cost for a typical warehouse inventory counting process and look at the speeds of both manual and automated inventory cycle counting methods. We'll learn just how much faster, and more accurate an automated inventory counting method can be.

You don’t want to sacrifice accuracy for speed. It makes no sense to implement a faster counting method if that method provides less accurate results. The goal is to optimize speed, accuracy and cost of your inventory counting methods.

Inventory Counting Methods

In a previous article: What is warehouse inventory counting?, we examined the various methods of counting inventory. In that article we learned that there are manual and automated methods of performing both a physical inventory count or an ongoing cycle count. The article suggests that a cycle count is a best practice for optimizing your resources, while providing the necessary feedback on current inventory levels.

Improving Accuracy

The most accurate inventory counting methods make use of tools like bar code readers to validate SKU numbers. Automating the identification and processing of barcodes, SKUs and labels is a critical quality check in the process. This helps avoid mistakes in mis-identification of inventory items. Human inventory counters can deploy handheld barcode scanners, while Ware drones use vision cameras (onboard the drones) and artificial intelligence to process the images.

What’s An Average Inventory Counting Speed?

If we look first at a manual inventory counting example, one of our customers demonstrated that they typically counted 2,160 bins (pallet locations) in an average month using three human cycle counters for the task. In the same facility, Ware deployed inventory counting drones and demonstrated that the drones could count 31,000 bins in the same time period. This is a 15x increase in the cycle counting capacity. The task was performed with 1 human and 2 drones.

Sample Comparison Of The Two Counting Methods

Human Labor Cost for this example: $45K / year / person


Manual Method: 

3 Human Cycle Counters

3 x $45K = $135K / year


Ware Autonomous Drone Method: 

Human Operator: 1 x $45K = $45K / year

2 Ware Drones = $56K / year

Total: $100K / year


The result is a net savings of $35K per year for the autonomous method and an increase of 15x in inventory counting capability, plus the addition of images of every single piece of inventory in the facility available in Ware’s software.

Conclusion

By making use of Ware drones for warehouse inventory cycle counting you can increase your counting capability and accuracy, while decreasing your costs. This enables you to better manage your inventory and optimize your inventory levels, with a beneficial effect on your bottom line.