Modern Inventory Management: QR Codes + NFC + Mobile Technology


Mobile Inventory Management & Mobile Asset Tracking With Smartphones


Mobile inventory management management software allows you to track out of office assets and inventory using mobile devices. Now you can use regular smartphones and tablets in place of traditional barcode scanners / mobile computers for barcode / qr code scanning, data entry and look up. Mobile inventory management application linked to a cloud software creates a powerful inventory and asset management system that allows you to track assets and inventory on site in real time, and provdes centralized access to up to the minute accurate asset and inventory information for all authorized employees.

 

mobile inventory and asset tracking

Using Mobile Devices For Assets And Inventory Management

In many situations companies' inventory and assets are spread around multiple locations and are not staying in one place. They are moving between storage locations, employees, clients, service vans or job sites. You need to have mobile devices to track assets movements and inventory stock changes. That's where mobile asset and inventory management software comes into play. It allows you to track assets and inventory using barcode scanning and mobile data collection / look up. You can use mobile computers specifically created for inventory management in the field, or you can use regular smartphones or tablets and save money on purchasing expensive hardware.
There are different kinds of inventory management software systems that have mobile functionality built into them. Here is a summary of what they are: hopefully this overview will help you decide what type of software might work best for your situation.

Mobile-Optimized Online Inventory & Asset Tracking Software

If you are subscribed to a web based inventory and asset tracking software, you can likely use it on a tablet without any special changes. However, if you want to use it on a smartphone and the web pages are not mobile-optimized, the software will be very hard or impossible to work with.

Some software vendors solve this problem by providing mobile-optimized version of their online inventory management software. If this is the case, you will get an exact or very close copy of the functionality you have in a desktop version. You will need to use mobile browser to access the application, type in a web address or use a bookmark. Importantly, you will not be able to take advantage of the hardware options that are useful for asset tracking and inventory stocktaking, such as barcode and qr code scanning, taking photos, determining GPS location of an asset or capturing a signature.

Native Mobile Applications For Asset Tracking or Inventory Management

Native mobile applications are written for a specific platform (android, iOS, windows phones). You download them from the respective application stores (Apple App Store, Google Play). Once the application is downloaded on your mobile device, you can open it by clicking on its icon. Native mobile applications tend to be faster and more responsive than mobile-optimized web sites. There are several types of inventory management mobile applications and / or asset tracking mobile applications that you can encounter:

  1. Hybrid Inventory Management Mobile Application
    Hybrid mobile applications generally mix native functionality with mobile-optimized web pages embedded in the application frame. Some inventory management applications will simply include mobile-optimized web site into the framework of a native application without including any native functionality. In essence such applications work as mobile-optimized web site. The only difference is that you will download application from the respective application store and open it by clicking on the application icon.
    You may encounter quite a few applications like this from inventory management software vendors. It is simply much easier and cheaper to produce one mobile-optimized version of what they already have, and embed it in a native application "frame" on all platforms. As with mobile-optimized web sites, these applications will usually lack useful native platform capabilities.

  2. Stand Alone Native Mobile Applications For Inventory Management
    Stand alone applications are the ones that you can download and use by themselves. They are not connected to a cloud software and do not have any centralized database / data storage. Due to the absence of the server-based capabilities these applications are very basic, and cannot cover the requirements of an average small business. They can suit a single person company that needs very limited inventory options, such as entering inventory items and updating inventory count.
    It is also important to understand that although it is convenient to be able to enter and lookup inventory and assets on a mobile device, some functions of the asset tracking system or inventory management system are simply not suitable for the mobile application. Reports, setup that requires large data entries, import and export of data, etc. are the functions that belong to the office computer with a big screen and a keyboard. Standalone inventory management applications also have the same drawback as desktop applications: data are entered and accessed by a single person and are not easily shareable.

  3. Native Mobile Applications That Extend Functionality Of The Cloud Asset And Inventory Software
    These applications do not simply copy existing inventory management software to the mobile device. Instead, they extend cloud inventory software to include functionality that makes tracking assets and inventory faster and easier, especially in the field and other out-of-the-office locations.
    Employees in the field who deal with assets and inventory usually need to process inventory and assets transactions, check inventory stock, access and collect data on an asset. These functions naturally belong to the smartphones / mobile application. Smartphones' capabilities of QR code or barcode scanning, taking photos, capturing GPS location, capturing signature, sending data to the cloud and availability of mobile forms for data collection are all used to enable real time efficient asset and inventory tracking.
    Functions that are usually done in the office - setting up the system, importing / exporting data, reviewing reports - are done using web based dashboard.
    For most businesses this type of applications provide the most value, since they allow centralized real time access to the data from any device and location by all authorized users, and enable fast and efficient asset and inventory tracking in the field, warehouse or in the office.

Takeaways

Mobile asset tracking and online asset management are not mutually exclusive. The same is true for mobile inventory management vs online inventory management. Instead, a good inventory system will combine web based dashboard with mobile application, so that each task is performed on the most suitable platform.

Tasks that are performed outside of the office (in the field, in the warehouse, on the factory floor) are better suited for the smartphones, which can be easily carried along. These tasks may include processing asset or inventory transactions (stocktaking, sale, assets check in and check out, recording assert or inventory transfer), checking inventory stock, checking asset specifications, documenting production process, etc. Native mobile applications that use platform capabilities (qr code / barcode scanning, taking photos, recording GPS location, capturing signature) are preferable to the mobile optimized web sites without such capabilities.

On the other hand, tasks that are performed by administrative staff in the office (setting system up, entering / importing / exporting assets and inventory / reviewing reports) belong to the web dashboard. These tasks are not well suited for mobile phones due to their small screens and processing power.

Having cloud software with centrilized database to which mobile application connects is required for the real time inventory management system, where collected information, changes in the inventory stock or asset location become immediatelly available to all autorized users of the system.


Taking Assets And Inventory Under Control: Next Steps

  Track Assets & Inventory

Use QR Inventory to track mobile assets and inventory on site in real time by scanning barcode or QR code label with a smartphone. Access up to the minute inventory stock, locations and transactions history from anywhere.
  Use Mobile Forms To Collect Data In The Field

Use QR Mobile Data to collect data in the field using mobile forms, barcode scanning and a smartphone. Manage workflows and processes. Access real time information from anywhere.
  Take Stock Fast & Error Free

Use QR Audit to do stocktaking, physical inventory count or asset audits fast and error free. Scan in items with a smartphone, submit collected information to a secure cloud.