In-depth: Cycle Counts

Utilizing a real-time WMS like AWLview can provide substantial increases to inventory accuracy in the warehouse, especially for operations that might have previously used paper based tracking solutions.  In addition to the accuracy benefits of system-directed transactions in a paperless environment, a comprehensive cycle count program can provide another level of inventory accuracy often times demanded by third party auditors and corporate compliance personnel.  Establishing a regular cycle count regiment is a critical part of maintaining the coveted five 9’s with regards to inventory accuracy, allowing an operation to keep less stock on hand, have a lower loss to shrinkage and scrap and ultimately provide a better customer experience.

For the uninitiated, the term cycle count refers to the counting of inventory levels, at the discrete location level, in a systemic fashion to insure accuracy.  The systemic fashion is often referred to as ABC cycle counts, where inventory is given an inventory class – based on transaction volume or dollar value – and counted on a certain frequency unique for each class.  “A” parts are typically your fast movers or high value parts, followed in decreasing transaction velocity or value by “B,” “C” and “D.”

AWLview has a robust standard ABC cycle count program, allowing system administrators to define inventory class by part based on transaction volume or part value and the frequency that each class must be counted – typically 30 days for A parts, 60 for B, 90 for C and 120 or longer for D.  ABC counts are generated on a regular interval and placed in the queue.  All counts are blind, meaning the operator performing the count does not know the expected quantity.  If the operator inputs an unexpected quantity, AWLview will prompt for a second count that must match the first count, before allowing the operator to continue.  As an additional check, system administrators may set a cycle count tolerance at the SKU level, which requires a supervisor to approve the operator’s cycle count if the quantity is out of tolerance.

AWLview evens allows your operators to perform the best opportunistic counts, such as a bin empty count.  If the location is empty as the result of a pick transaction, AWLview simply asks the operator if the location is empty.  You’ve paid for their travel time to the location and the count is least distracting from the current focus: picking.  The operator is given credit for the count for labor reporting and it counts toward the ABC count frequency criteria.

Given AWLview’s modular architecture, Minerva has also provided custom solutions for customers’ cycle count requirements.  Do you deal with serialized inventory that must be counted at the serial level?  We have you covered.  Are you working with highly regulated product, such as pharmaceuticals, that require additional count parameters or frequencies?  Not a problem.  Do you have inventory class and cycle count parameters setup and managed in a host system?  AWLview can receive that data and assign parameters based on the host system data.  Do you require a segregated corporate cycle count process, visible and accessible only to controllers and staff?  You might be pleasantly surprised to see smiling accountants in the warehouse with mobile RF devices.  And it goes without saying that cycle count transaction history is logged and available for reporting like all other transactions performed in AWLview.

For select industries and corporate requirements, we have seen some customers completely move away from yearly wall-to-wall physicals due to accuracy improvements from real-time, system-directed processes and implementing an easy to administer cycle count program.  Contact us today to discuss how AWLview WMS can improve your accuracy numbers and decrease warehouse costs today!