With the ever increasing speed of the marketplace, it’s more important than ever to find ways in which your business can automate and systematize to save both time and money. One cost saving strategy to consider is the implementation of an electronic inventory tracking system that will allow your business to monitor tank levels, minimize unnecessary deliveries, the convenience of Just in Time delivery (JIT) and the peace of mind in knowing that you won’t be running out of products critical to your operation.
What is Electronic Inventory Tracking
Electronic inventory tracking uses the science of telemotry, a process of automated communication whereby measurements and various forms of data are collected off-site and are transmitted through a wireless network to a centralized monitoring location for assessment. The word “telemotry” is derrived from Greek and can be loosely translated as “remote measuring,” which is in essence what electronic inventory tracking provides. With this technology, a low profile hydrostatic pressure sensor is installed within the vent tube of a tank and measures the weight of the liquid product sitting at the bottom.
The weight measurement is then translated into volume and each monitoring device has a wireless cellular motor that transmits data to a centralized web portal, giving you a clear picture of your remote inventory status. It sounds like science fiction, but really, it’s quite simple. Think of the little wireless clamp placed on your finger at the doctor’s office – the pulse oximeter that checks your heart rate. Electronic tank and inventory monitoring is essentially the same, closely monitoring your fluid levels and communicating inventory status to your dispatcher or purchasing agent.
How Can Electronic Inventory Tracking Benefit Your Business
There’s nothing worse than running out of a critical product that’s necessary for the primary operations of your business. Not having the appropriate volume of a specific product in your inventory can can temporarily shut down your entire fleet for days or even weeks, potentially costing you thousands of dollars. Locating, purchasing and having a necessary product delivered at the last minute takes time and generally comes at a higher price. Such emergency deliveries are cost prohibitive not only for your bottom line, but they also put unnecessary wear and tear on your fleet and can affect the allocation of your driver’s time.
As a lubricant distributor we’re constantly working to better understand our customer’s inventory needs in an effort to synchronize them with a maximized delivery schedule. We’re always looking for solutions that automate, expedite and save time and money. Tank monitoring and electronic inventory tracking allows us to do both so that we can pass those savings in dollars and time along to our customers.
Skybitz – Fleet and Tank Monitoring
One of the tank monitoring services we currently partner with at SCL is Skybitz, a fleet and tank monitoring company based out of Chicago, IL. We reached out to Skybitz Regional Sales Director, Mike Green, to highlight how electronic inventory tracking and tank monitoring can benefit your business:
- Save Time – In the past, we relied entirely on our customers to call us when they needed a specific product. This required them to manually check their inventory levels and based on their past orders we would do our best to meet their needs in as timely a manner as possible. From time to time, however, an important product would run out and they would be scrambling for an emergency delivery, which puts all hands on deck with what might be a small to moderate-sized bobtail delivery. Not the best use of our fleet or driver resources. With the introduction of electronic inventory monitoring we are now able to stay one step ahead of our customer’s needs, not just anticipating them but knowing their actual product volume. The fewer times we have to visit a business, the more efficient we can be when it comes to systematizing deliveries and the less wear and tear on our fleet. In the past we may have made deliveries to a certain customer once a week, but with electronic inventory monitoring, monthly deliveries are now possible. This allows us to schedule deliveries based on who needs what in a particular region, almost like building a comprehensive and efficiently designed milk route in a particular area.
- Save Money – Implementing electronic inventory monitoring will save you money in many ways. The less times you have to travel to a destination, the more efficient and cost effective deliveries become. By maximizing deliveries in one geographical region we can pass along those cost savings to our customers and maintain competitive pricing. Electronic inventory monitoring will allow you to set up deliveries days in advance to receive enough product in one trip versus multiple. If we can cut your deliveries down from 10 a month to 5, that’s a significant amount of savings.
- Rapid ROI – The standard cost per unit of a Skybitz tank monitoring system is roughly $400 USD. With the elimination of 1-2 costly emergency deliveries per month, you’ll begin to see a return on investment in a relatively short period of time. Assessing the cost benefit analysis of a Skybitz unit based on how many sites, tanks and trucks you have, as well as how many deliveries you need and your potential for emergency deliveries, the money you’ll save by maintaining inventory that’s just the right amount for your fleet will quickly make your investment worthwhile.
- System Longevity – A Skybitz tank monitoring system can last between 7 to 9 years, depending on tank conditions and the life of the battery. The current 3G wireless system that it operates under is dependent upon the continued evolution of wireless technology, and with network obsolescence, units will need to be upgraded every 4-5 years on average. Skybitz upgrades and repairs their units at no charge, and when you’re done with a unit you simply return it to them, as you would with returning an outdated cellphone to your wireless service provider.
- Organization and Labeling – Whether you’re manually monitoring 2 tanks or 1,000, the value of an electronic monitoring system lies in the ease with which you can manage and label your inventory. With your initial setup, SCL will assist you in organizing your portals and routes with an intuitive labeling system that allows you to automate deliveries in a cost effective, intelligent manner. Labeling will allow your company to zero in on your immediate inventory needs with a clear understanding of where your other products stand.
- Peace of Mind – Get a clear picture of your current inventory and projected inventory needs with electronic tank monitoring. When you know what you have and what you’ll need you can scale your purchases and deliveries up and down accordingly. With SCL and the Skybitz tank monitoring system you’ll receive primary and secondary notifications in the form of forecasting and low-level alerts that will give you peace of mind when it comes to knowing how much of a certain product you have on hand. Don’t rely on manual inventory monitoring. Monitoring your tanks electronically takes the guesswork out of deliveries and you will always know the status of your inventories.
Stay Ahead of the Game
According to Mike Green at Skybitz, “We help dispatchers automate and forecast their deliveries to make their job easier and to eliminate mistakes. Our tank monitoring systems help customers manage their businesses and inventory in a proactive way, allowing them to stay one step ahead of the game. Being reactive can be costly and inefficient. Proactive is time and cost saving. A tank monitoring system gives you eyes on the ground, allowing you to schedule your deliveries in a more efficient manner.”
In a wide range of industrial sectors, if there’s metal touching metal, we’re involved. At SCL, we’re here to protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving and we pride ourselves on providing superior logistics and solutions, extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. In a world trending more and more toward technological integration, electronic tank monitoring as an excellent time and cost saving solution. Click here to learn more about Skybitz tank monitoring solutions or contact an SCL consultant today for more information.