End of Year Inventory
Traditionally, companies close down to count stock at the end of a fiscal year. Employees dress down and get on their hands and knees to begin a one or two day or even week long task of physically counting the entire inventory. Teams of individuals armed with pen and paper are responsible for counting specific sections of the warehouse.
In comparison to using a pen and paper, the amount of time required for the yearly inventory could considerably be reduced by simply using Portable Data Terminals (PDT). Fewer people could even be employed to prevent the company from having to shut down for a few days. In addition, the inventory accuracy would substantially increase because handwriting would not have to be "interpreted", flipping through scores of pages and marking the wrong item would be eliminated, and the steps and procedures required to manually log the data would be practically reduced to a single step. Inventory would not have to be recorded twice, once during physical count and subsequently keyed into a host computer.
Since the end of the year inventory is generally performed once or twice a year, users will generally not need to access the host computer during real-time during physical inventory. If it is necessary, a Radio Frequency Data Collection (RFDC) system can be implemented. If the user must view the current stock, the host inventory can be loaded onto most portables to simulate inventory database access.
Most PDTs have resident operating applications (programs) that can be easily programmed to count inventory. Applications can be written to prompt the user to input certain fields such as the item number and quantity. Additional fields can prompt for the warehouse number, aisle, bin and shelf. When the operator has completed a set of tasks, the PDT is connected to a host terminal so that the inventory file can be uploaded. The PDT is typically connected to the serial port on a host terminal (such as a PC) using a null modem cable. An inventory application running on the PC or host computer in turn processes the file to store the appropriate information.