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RFID

Change up your inventory with VMI

Most flexo shops are managing inventories of supplies and materials pretty much the way they did back in the Last Century: manually. And it’s costing money every day. Meanwhile, customers are seeking faster turnarounds, shorter runs, and looking for ways to make their labels and packages stand out at retail. They’re putting the pressure on print providers to advise, anticipate and deliver what they need, on time and on budget. Does any of this sound familiar?

Dodging a bullet

So you’ve amped up your game and are delivering the goods, but are still looking for ways to do better. And you’re thinking about the bullet you dodged last month when your production manager somehow came up with the extra 5,000 feet of label stock you were certain was on hand but was nowhere to be found. “There must be a way to keep better track of what’s on hand,” you said to your COO. Who agreed, but offered no solutions.

Welcome to 2019

Now though, worrying about inventory levels can be as obsolete as flip phones. Everything you need to run your business, from inks to plate materials to chemicals to substrates and more can be monitored, tracked and accounted for from the moment it arrives until it is used up or shipped to a customer. Every item can be automatically replenished so you never have to wonder whether the necessary materials will be on hand for the big job that starts on Monday afternoon. In 2019 this pointy end of your supply chain is one less thing to worry about as you work to leverage your people, equipment and other resources to keep your business moving forward.

Inventory Management

VMI to the rescue

Driving this level of control is Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI), a smart and powerful means of optimizing usage and ordering of supplies and materials. The process relies on RFID tags, which look a bit like 2-D bar codes, placed on every item. When an item—a packet of plate material for instance—is taken from a specific location, the RFID tag is automatically read and the change noted in a company’s inventory management system. The system can then alert an employee of the change in inventory level and be configured to automatically place an order with a vendor when supplies reach a pre-determined quantity. This ensures a shop’s supplies never fall below a pre-set level, ensuring needed materials will always be on hand.

In its simplest form, a “cabinet-based” VMI system can help track a host of many smaller items stored in a cabinet or closet. A VMI system can also be “room-based,” in which RFID tags can be read by large readers placed in doorways so items such as rolls of substrates can be accurately accounted for.

Each Vendor Managed Inventory system can be configured to match a printer’s specific needs.

  • It can connect only to a company’s internal network, alerting designated personnel as inventory levels change so ordering can be handled internally.
  • It can notify a vendor of supply levels, triggering automatic replenishment of a product
  • The system can also reach out to a designated employee via email for verification and authorization. This can help control order volumes and is especially important for items that were only needed for one-time or short-term use and do not require replacement.
  • Smart and sophisticated, the system will gang together needed items to minimize shipping costs whenever possible.

Made to fit

RFID CabinetAs offered by Anderson & Vreeland in partnership with an enterprise-class inventory solutions provider, Intelligent VMI can be set up to monitor levels of an agreed-upon range of products and materials, perform check-sum calculations to compare those levels with established usage patterns, notify a customer’s employee when orders are in process, and more, all with the goal of simplifying inventory control and management.

Moreover, the Anderson & Vreeland VMI is not a one-size-fits-all program. Each installation is tailored and tested to meet a customer’s individual needs. The process begins by making sure there is no electrical or electronic interference in a facility that would interfere with the signals of the RFID tags used to monitor products in the room or cabinet. The system is fully tested and adapted to its location before going “live,” and your staff is fully trained on how the system works and what to expect. And, each installation is fully documented to ensure all employees have an immediate resource to draw on as they begin using their new VMI system. And of course, the technical support of Anderson & Vreeland is only a phone call away.

Anderson & Vreeland has been developing its state-of-the-art VMI for over a year and tested it in a variety of locations. It is ready to be installed and implemented in your shop as soon as you are ready. Call your AV Account Manager today for more detail on how you can take full control your inventory and management system.