January 23, 2012

"Inventory nightmares" highlight importance of good asset tracking

The consequences of failing to keep track of inventory can be dire, as these tales of woe demonstrate.

By DC Velocity Staff

Every warehouse operator, stockroom manager, or transportation company can tell a tale or two about lost inventory or missing assets. Sometimes, the consequences are relatively minor. But in other cases, they're nothing less than dire, as these real-life examples offered by Wasp Barcode Technologies attest:

  • The Case of the Missing Radioactive Container. Back in 2010, FedEx was charged with delivering three packages containing radioactive rods used in computerized tomography (CT) scans to a hospital. When one of the packages failed to arrive at its destination, FedEx initiated a nationwide search and alerted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Fortunately, the package was recovered and no one was exposed to the container's low-level radiation.
  • The Case of the Vanishing Weapons. In late 2010, tens of thousands of machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers that were to be provided by the U.S. military to the Afghan National Police went missing. According to an article in **ital{Stars and Stripes,} a breakdown in communications and the Afghans' own logistical shortcomings were to blame for the disappearance. Despite a search by coalition forces and the Afghan police, the whereabouts of the missing weapons remain unknown.
  • The Case of the Forgotten Medical Supply. Surgical items can blend into their surroundings during medical procedures and may be overlooked. The most common such mistake: accidentally leaving surgical sponges inside a patient, which can lead to serious infections and even death. Without some method of tracking the items, nobody knows they're missing.

Bar-code technologies can help prevent such asset-tracking nightmares, said Wasp's executives. Ultimately, they said, stories like these serve as a reminder of the importance of having a solid inventory control or asset tracking system in place—whether you're tracking AK-47s in the field or surgical supplies in the operating room.

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