By Travis Smith, founder and CTO, WithoutWire Inventory Sciences
A typical process to move parts from a warehouse to a field technician generates a 77 percent reduction in barcode scans using automated optimization
Field technicians are paid to do their job, not to study software manuals. Many field techs are under 40 and have spent their lives using Android and iOS apps. These solutions are easy to install; with a minimal learning curve, automating, tracking, and replenishing truck inventory in real-time is now possible.
Insight into techs, warehouses, and neighboring sources have a direct correlation to customer satisfaction. Automating this process by using mobile devices, field service technicians keep inventory updated, allowing everyone in the eco-system to review part inventories.
When a part is needed, warehouse operators are notified on their device immediately for fast delivery or pick up.
Once a part is in the possession of the tech, inventory is automatically tracked to that tech location. This automation ensures that techs can perform part requisition lookups from the main screen of the app, searching an item description, item number, or scanning an item.
Automated technology solutions must support single scan receipt of parts using intelligent license plates, which arguably can constitute the largest reduction in scans, especially when working with serialized collections of parts.
Similarly, technology must automate and support full receiving with scanning in the field for critical part tracking, so that field replenishments can be triggered by external API calls, requests by techs, or auto-replenishment levels managed through MIN/MAX settings.
Techs report consumed and damaged parts, track returns and transfers, and improve overall visibility on the job. Customer satisfaction improves because they receive accurate visibility of serial/lot numbers using built-in validation. Using a mobile device, improves accuracy, tracking, and real-time visibility.
Consumption for planned jobs and service calls
Every type of consumption within a field service supply chain must be automated with optimal efficiency considered. Automated collection of information about part consumption has a variety of important applications. Often there are planned jobs in the field with occasional needs for additional parts. Automated user interfaces (UX) have been created to suit this process.
Break/Fix scenarios can involve large quantities of various parts. The part selection process can be automated quickly. Instant access to visibility across the enterprise, ensures that users can check for good parts and request transfers from the warehouse or other techs.
Returns provide the ability to collect a group of good and bad parts and return them to a processing site. When these parts are combined with return license plates, it makes receiving very simple.
Automated movement of parts
Transfer of parts is a complex aspect to handling various customer requirements. Field techs get inventory from many places; warehouses, deliveries, closet stock locations, customer staging locations, and even other techs.
Using tech lockers, staged by warehouse staff for easy and secure pick up with single scan tracking, shows exactly who and when the parts were picked up.
Author profile: Travis Smith is the CTO and Founder of WithoutWire Inventory Sciences. He is a graduate of NDSU school of Electrical Engineering and resides in Maple Grove, MN with his wife and eight children. In 1998, he co-founded Inetium, a software development consulting firm and branched off to form Appolis in 2001.
He provides supply chain-based consulting and product strategy for a variety of industries with a unique combination of software architecture and business process experience. To connect with Travis and his team at WithoutWire Inventory Sciences, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.