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What is inventory control?

What is inventory control? Inventory control refers to the process of effectively managing consumable stock items, parts or supplies. Inventory control helps streamline stockroom, supply depot, and small warehouse operations, and it provides item-level visibility so that you know what you have, where it is, and when to order more.

Sound inventory control processes enable stockroom and supply managers to:

  • Reduce time spent looking for inventory items.
  • Prevent overstock and out-of-stock situations.
  • Monitor item consumption.
  • Increase accountability and prevent shrinkage.

Failure to properly manage inventory can result in poor visibility, as well as wasted time and money.

The Inventory Control Process

To control inventory effectively, you need item-level visibility. The easiest way to do this is to conduct periodic inventories or cycle counts of all inventory by location. These physical inventories provide an accurate count of inventory levels by part number or SKU and location. But because items are constantly added and removed from stock, the accuracy of this information is limited by the frequency with which you conduct your inventories. To address this, you can also track all transactions as they occur. The most common transactions are: receipts and issues, and moving inventory from one location to another.

Typically, a receipt or issue transaction includes the part number, quantity, date/time and location the transaction took place. For example: you receive 10 units of part 1234 to shelf 12 at 10:00 AM on January 16th. That’s a lot of information to manually record each and every time a transaction occurs. And it doesn’t include additional information commonly captured, such as the purchase order number of the item being received, or the person, customer or job the items you’re issuing them to. This is why, when organizations monitor inventory at the transaction level, they use a barcode-based system to help streamline the process.