Countback is a great tool and process to increase inventory accuracy in a proactive and cost effective manner. Countback is most effective when it is integrated with RF guns/scanners and where countback is directly linked to the WMS (warehouse management system).
Countback essentially becomes part of the pick process. After an order picker completes a line item to be picked, the system requests a countback on the remaining quantity of product at that current pick location. If the countback quantity does not match the system inventory expectation then a flag is raised. Where countback is used, any problem typically becomes isolated to either the current order being picked or the immediately preceding order.
Depending on the level of sophistication of the WMS, different protocols can be established with regards to countback. For example, countback can be set up globally to countback all skus or it can be set up on specific skus. The latter case can be of benefit where there are high value products mixed with low value products; cycle counting may be sufficient for the lower valued goods.
Other protocols include what happens when a discrepancy occurs. Some systems allow for different levels of intervention. At the lowest level of intervention would be some type of alert to floor supervision or inventory control that a discrepancy exists. The next higher level would include an inability to complete the shipping of the order in question prior to addressing the discrepancy, through to the highest level where the picker cannot proceed to the next line item until the discrepancy is addressed.
ASL Distribution Services utilizes a world class WMS system provided by Accellos. The Accellos system has a fully integrated countback protocol that allows for all of the above mentioned protocols. A case study in one facility led to an improvement of inventory accuracy to 99.97% all while improving overall productivity.
If you have any further questions feel free to reach out to our logistics team at ASL.