Software innovations will affect every aspect of an equipment rental business in the years to come, but none perhaps more profoundly than in the area of inventory management. We asked leaders of some of the most prominent software suppliers in the rental industry what we can expect to see in this area. Here's what they said:
Clark Haley, BCS ProSoft: There are two main areas where we see opportunity for advancement in inventory management: 1) Data Collection Methods - the adoption rate for bar code scanning continues to rise. It's anticipated that this will shift towards RFID technologies as the hardware and tags become more economical and readers improve accuracy; and 2) Analytics - an area of anticipated change or growth in inventory management systems involves analytical systems. It won't be good enough to know on-hand quantities or prices. Instead, the system will need to have a combination of tools and intelligence needed to evaluate past and future inventory transactions to help right size your inventories.
Rob Ross, Alert Management Systems: We feel mobility is key. Alert has been growing its portfolio of mobile apps, now including Mobile Inventory Manager which offers the ability to conduct a (paperless) physical inventory of assets using smart phones or tablets.
Michael Saint, Corporate Services: Software will take advantage of technologies such as RFID and GPS-based information gathering. Processes will rely less on human intervention and interpretation, resulting in more accurate and timely assimilation of meaningful data.
J.J Shea, Solutions by Computer: Software development will drive better workflow management throughout the rental process. For example, there's a lot to be gained by further integrating the connections between a rental store and its manufacturers, to automate the logistics of purchasing and reordering. Another area where we believe technology will play an increasing role is in managing the balance of rates and utilization. This will come through a mix of software development and integration with third-party analytics.
Rod Theoret, Texada Software: Technological advancements could impact how we manage parts, inventory and tools by leveraging processes such as bar coding, geo-fencing and RFID. Another potential area of change could be the increased implementation of VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory). With VMI, a rental company's vendor would take care of the replenishment process automatically and ideally, in a paperless fashion. Rental companies would no longer have to worry about not having stock on hand and ordering more product on time.
Wayne Harris, Point-of-Rental: Software continues to evolve. With advances in increased hardware speed and additional resources such as hard drive space and memory, it has allowed software to handle much more complex analysis than programs in the past. Things that used to just be "gut feelings" pertaining to purchasing, selling and returns are now automatic and easily handled by the software.
Patrice Boivin, Orion Software: In rental operations, new solutions will provide better tools to manage availability of equipment. They will offer a complete solution to manage branch availability, including maintenance, sub-rental and inter-branch transfer. New technology offers a great competitive advantage when it comes to managing multi-branch operations with a large fleet.
Ray Bonestroo, Genisys Software: Rental companies will operate more like distribution companies. They'll be better able to track their inventory with minimum and maximum stocking levels, reorder points, multiple warehouse locations with their own bin locations and quantities, transfers to and from as needed, etc.There's a continuing movement for rental companies to become more paperless. Today we provide the ability to easily find, store and retrieve electronic documents within our application which has a major impact on the administration effort and cost. We also see rental management software will also need to support the back office with more focus on managing the business operations via KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) so customers can see the health of their business with reporting and analytics.