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Blog | Oct 13, 2023

Do I Need Inventory Management Automation?

Inventory Management Automation
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Why You Should Use Automation in Inventory Management

Manufacturers are facing supply chain bottlenecks. They’re challenged with high demand, leaving little time for planning and forecasting, much less growth. To reduce waste and repetitive manual work, manufacturers should consider optimizing their inventory management with intelligent automation (IA).

IA deploys digital workers to perform step-by-step tasks and reduces workflow complexity. It does this by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with robotic process automation (RPA) and business process management (BPM). Think of your IA digital workers as assistants, helping streamline your business processes.

Let’s see how we can directly apply this digital technology to inventory management.

What Is Automated Inventory Management?

People say, ‘less is more’, and that’s especially true for inventory management. IA enables manufacturers to reduce their focus on inventory management so they can apply their resources to R&D and demand generation.

Before automation, employees would need to manually execute transactions in their ERP system. By applying IA, digital workers now turn off old products and execute new product transactions without requiring human intervention.

Even if you have legacy systems and vast inventory data, IA can help. It deploys digital workers to track inventory and identify appropriate stock levels by combining standard factors, such as warehousing trends and historical demand, with less obvious markers, such as weather forecasts.

Digital workers can also make supply decisions by examining inventory turnover, latency and costs, then calculating the optimal lead time for individual components – while accounting for warehouse space.

What are the challenges with manual inventory management?

Tracking inventory manually requires employees to spend a lot of time analyzing reams of data, and that time-consuming, tedious work can often lead to unwanted errors and rework. Pen and paper spreadsheets are a thing of the past. Employees need a better way to work, lest you have inaccurate inventory counts, lost sales and wasted time and effort.

How do I plan my automation?

It’s good to incorporate best practices in the initial planning stages and development of your automated processes. Identify which processes are the best first candidates for automation. Automated process discovery methods such as task and process mining can help you analyze your as-is processes and determine if there are any bottlenecks or areas of improvement.

SS&C Blue Prism and WonderBotz Inventory Management Case Study

Global confectionery saves over $7M by catching product labeling exceptions

High volume at distribution centers caused labeling errors that caused undelivered products to be deeply discounted or destroyed. Digital workers were able to catch product labeling exceptions faster saving $7M in lost profits annually.

"I challenge everybody, if you are looking at processes to develop, keep an open mind, be creative and use your imagination.” 

Martin Rupert, Head of Business Process Automation, The Hershey Company

Read case study here 

How Does Automation Help With Inventory Management?

Each step of the inventory management process, when done manually, is prone to human errors, slowdowns and inefficiencies. Here’s how IA digital workers can help in each step:

  1. Demand and supply planning: Digital workers review forecast orders versus real-time inventory to identify any material shortages.
  2. Sourcing: Digital workers orchestrate re-sourcing via alternate routes and suppliers.
  3. Work-in-progress (WIP): Digital workers correlate available materials with existing WIP to minimize disruptions.
  4. Manufacturing operations: Digital workers restructure production orders based on resource availability and location.
  5. Manufacturing quality assurance: Digital workers ensure zero defect regulatory compliance by design.
  6. Delivery: Digital workers keep customers informed automatically, instantly and continuously.

With IA, manufacturers can be assured their shipments are on time, and they can improve governance and end-to-end visibility, optimizing their customer’s journey even through periods of disruption.

What Automation Can Be Used to Manage Inventory?

Choosing the right management system is just as important as deciding which processes you’ll automate. Let’s look at some examples of automated inventory management:

Transportation and logistics

Keeping up with customers and maintaining operational efficiency is an ongoing challenge for transportation and logistics providers. Luckily, IA can help them transform customer journeys, optimize freight management and convert data into insights. Here’s how IA works:

  • For customers: IA allows organizations to respond to customer queries and compliance more quickly. It also gives customers real-time visibility of their shipment status and delivery. IA can handle price monitoring, status updates, quote management and complaints resolution.
  • For freight management: IA integrates seamlessly with partner systems to streamline freight management across air, land and sea. It also offers real-time insights so you can react to changing prices and market conditions.
  • For insights: IA turns data into comprehensible information to help with decision-making. It can also improve supply and demand forecasting to help you remain agile. Finally, IA enables predictive maintenance for minimized downtime, improved performance and increased throughput.

Read the case study to find out how intelligent automation helped Waitrose meet and exceed store inventory demands.


Manufacturing automation helps address shifting market dynamics, skills shortages and new competitors. With rapidly changing tax regimes, evolving government policies, international trade wars and raw material scarcities, it’s imperative manufacturers embrace RPA, IA and AI as the foundation of their digital transformation efforts. Here’s how IA works:

  • For customers: IA helps manufacturers meet customer demand with a seamless digital experience that offers personalized products and services.
  • For supply chain management: With supply chain automation, manufacturers can handle complex supply chains that require global sourcing, production and distribution. Digital workers can automatically check inventory levels against actual stock, generate purchase orders for supplies and provide on-demand quotes to minimize delays.
  • For regulations: IA allows manufacturers to adapt to regulatory changes by automatically staying up to date with the most recent regulations.

Read the case study to find out how one manufacturer reduced inventory management efforts by 35% with RPA.

What should I look for in an automated inventory management system?

There is a lot of IA software out there, so make sure you select one that fits your business goals, infrastructure requirements and scalability efforts. Here are some features you may want to automate:

  • Reordering and order fulfillment: As backend operations go, order fulfillment and reordering are a critical – and often error-prone – process. They ensure your products are available for your customers to buy. Running out of stock can send your customers looking to other suppliers.
  • Inventory alerts: Find a tool that gives you real-time updates on every step of the inventory journey. It should alert you of low inventory levels, overstocks and any shipping delays.
  • Warehouse management: If you have inventory spread across multiple warehouse locations, you’ll want to ensure your stock is in the right place to fulfill demand. Find an automated solution with transfer controls.
  • Order management: Automate your dispatch processes to help retailers and wholesalers sort packages for where they need to be delivered. IA can help with barcode scanning, label printing and optimizing delivery channels.
  • Multiple sales channels: Choose an inventory management tool that integrates with other e-commerce management tools like point of sale (POS) systems so you can effectively interoperate between your channels. This will also help you avoid accidentally selling the same product twice.
  • Inventory forecasting: Some automated inventory control systems allow you to integrate with demand forecasting tools, which is useful if you need to know how much of each product to order based on past sales data.
  • Reporting: It might not seem so, but reporting is critical to the success and optimization of automated inventory management. Find a system that lets you track your processes with real-time data analytics for more informed decision-making.

What Are the Benefits of Automation in Inventory Management?

Once initial parameters are defined, digital workers become self-sustaining, managing the stock flow for you automatically. And since they work 24/7 with 100% accuracy, they can optimize the entire process: creating orders, alerting team members of shortages and finding alternative suppliers when fulfillment is poor.

Here's what you get with automated inventory management:

Optimized inventory to mitigate volatility

IA realizes inventory savings by:

  • Reducing production lead times for faster responses.
  • Eliminating the need for ‘buffer’ inventory by employing supply-side scalability.
  • Scheduling in real-time to ensure the right order processes every time.

Real-time counter disruption

IA can eliminate in-process waste by:

  • Monitoring and flagging shortages immediately.
  • Responding and taking action to priority tasks.
  • Optimizing new supplier processes to reduce delays.

No buffer stocks

IA reduces landfill waste by:

  • Monitoring inventory stock counts in real time.
  • Reducing and replenishing inventory regularly and as needed.
  • Eliminating over-production costs.

Supply scalability

IA increases total cost savings by:

  • Building to order and eliminating the finished goods stock.
  • Minimizing the time to detect quality defects.
  • Maximizing the field of life.
  • Simplifying the supply chain.

Now What?

Inventory management doesn’t have to be complicated – or wasteful. By integrating intelligent automation into your inventory processes, you can optimize your supply chain and see direct, cost-saving results. Inventory automation increases accuracy, reduces waste and connects systems for easier scalability.

Automation is the path forward for manufacturers. It helps you maintain robust operations and extend your capabilities by freeing up human and cash resources. Reduce the time-consuming, repetitive tasks and find out how intelligent automation is the future.

Contact SS&C Blue Prism to learn more and read our e-book on how to optimize your supply chain.

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