How can dairy producers better streamline their animal health inventory management?

By Micro Technologies

Reduce costs, increase security and efficiency, and track how products are used
Dairy producer with tablet

As a dairy producer, you work hard to take good care of your animals and produce quality products. Your business isn't about tracking your inventory, nor should it be.

An automated animal health inventory management system takes the stress out of dealing with inventory and lets producers focus on the big picture. Systems identify inventory discrepancies and automatically reorder animal health products and supplies at predeterminate levels. That way, they are always on hand when you need them.

Animal health inventory solutions

One inventory management option is a digital system that tracks your inventory from the time you receive it to the time it's used. When you've decided the minimum and maximum amount of each animal health product you want to have on hand, automated reordering ensures you're always stocked with what you need. You'll never have to make an emergency run to the vet's office or wait for delivery of an expensive overnight shipment.

You also select who can use your products. The system tracks each individual treatment so you can see who accessed the product, as well as who administered it. This boosts employee accountability and ensures that staff follows protocols.

Another inventory management option is a wireless solution that dairy producers either use by itself or with an existing inventory management system. This solution is applicable for feed and/or other animal health products.

A compact bud — smaller than a credit card — sits on the shelf underneath each product type. When users take a product, they press the bud's Take button. When they put it back, they press the Return button.

The bud sends the information wirelessly, along with a date and time stamp, to the main system to track the inventory. The user then verifies the information on the main system and presses Exit. When your product gets down to the designated minimum level, the system automatically orders more.

Inventory management benefits

Using an automated inventory management system has many benefits:

  • Ensures product is available when needed
  • Enhances inventory accuracy
  • Cuts down product loss
  • Identifies inventory that isn't used often so it's not overstocked
  • Increases security and protocol compliance
  • Keeps employees accountable
  • Tracks product use
  • Boosts organization
  • Utilizes detailed reports
  • Saves time and money

Cost savings and efficiency are some of the biggest benefits of these systems, says Zach Beutler, animal health inventory product owner at Micro Technologies. You may not know the indirect costs of managing your inventory. When products come in at various times, you spend a lot of time ordering, verifying the received items, and restocking. Eventually, this extra time can take a toll on your profits.

But when you only receive an automated order once or twice a week, you save time on those administrative processes. When new product shows up, you simply verify what you received compared to the matching purchase order in the system.

Automated orders increase cost savings for both sides. "We have a healthy business when our producers have a healthy business. Long term, that's what we want — our producers to have viable businesses," Beutler says.

Simplicity and organization

Automated inventory management solutions are quick and easy for workers to use too. After installation, staff put products in designated locations. Everything has its place," Beutler says. "There's no rummaging around through boxes or through the shelves trying to find what you need."

Having an effective inventory management system also reduces product loss because you can rotate your products easily, notes Beutler. As you restock, you can pull older products to the front of the shelf and put the new ones in the back. You can also get detailed, user-friendly inventory reports at any time.

Animal safety

It's crucial that the person who will be administering treatment has available product that's not expired. You can set up an inventory management system to notify you when a product has been recalled or it's getting close to its expiration. This is especially beneficial when it comes to pharmaceuticals or vaccines because administering expired products might not result in the desired benefit. Using products at the right time ensures they are the most effective for your animals.

"We work with customers to provide climate control in the room or building the medicine is being stored in," Beutler says. Along with that, these systems offer temperature monitoring for both coolers and ambient temperatures. With this, you will receive automatic digital reporting on temperatures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the temperature goes above or below the desired range, you will be alerted by text and email.

Software integration

These inventory management systems can be integrated with herd management software, offering ease of use and even more detailed information on inventory.  This can be set up so that pulling a product from inventory automatically transfers it to the herd management software. 

For example, an employee takes two bottles of vaccine from inventory, which are then transferred to an integration that links treatment with inventory. The employee administers one and one-half, so there should be half a bottle left. "It can get right down to the nitty-gritty on inventory discrepancies and making sure people are accountable for what they've pulled," Beutler says. "This provides a seamless accounting for those products — where they came from, when they got there, who brought them, and then who administered them and how much they administered."

Digital animal health inventory management 

An automated solution can improve your dairy's efficiency, safety, and profitability