Inventory Management

Sortly’s Guide to Easy PPE Inventory Management

June 18, 2020 • 11 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has changed almost everything about daily life, including how businesses operate. Perhaps your pharmacy suddenly needs to provide all employees with masks, gloves and plastic shields. Or your sporting goods store has turned its jersey-making business into a mask-creating operation. Or you’re a local government that’s providing PPE to other organizations, like your sanitation and parks departments. 

Whether your business uses PPE to provide to employees, manufactures that PPE or supplies it to other organizations, you’ll need to maintain an accurate inventory of your organization’s personal protective equipment. While you could do this by hand, inventory management software can automate the process, making it faster, easier and far less error-prone. 

You don’t need to invest in fancy, exorbitantly-priced software to get organized, either. You can use intuitive and inexpensive inventory management software that works like an app on your phone to audit, track and manage your stock. 

Businesses That Track PPE For Their Employees

PPE Inventory is managed on an inventory app.

Whether your organization was shuttered, reconfigured, or continued to provide essential services throughout the shutdown, your business almost certainly now requires employees and visitors alike to utilize personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

Now, as more and more local and state governments are lifting shelter-in-place orders, businesses of all shapes and sizes are facing similar challenges. What was at first a challenge only for essential businesses like first responders, grocery stores and pharmacies is now something that all businesses—from hair salons to hobby stores—must tackle. This can be especially challenging for businesses that only sell services and have no inventory experience. 

Here are some features of inventory management apps like Sortly that can make PPE tracking way easier for all types of businesses. 

1. Barcode and QR Code Scanning—With a Phone, Tablet, or External Scanner

More and more businesses are opening up and preparing for a “new normal” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. For a lot of organizations, that means maintaining social distance between workers and encouraging less contact between people and objects, like water coolers, break areas and even items in stockrooms. 

An automated inventory management app can reduce the amount of people you need on-site counting inventory and reduce the amount of inventory your employees must touch. 

Barcodes and QR codes, which usually come right on the packaging of products like masks and gloves, can make creating and maintaining an inventory list way less stressful and time consuming. Simply use a smartphone or a compatible Bluetooth scanner to scan an item, then add in any relevant details. 

Use the scanner to check items in and out, or to quickly access information about the product. If you are using items that come without a barcode or QR code, don’t worry. Use the customer QR code generator to create labels, then affix them onto the packaging. 

2. Custom Reports for Everything

Both governments and corporate compliance committees will require businesses to prove they are properly protecting employees. If you use a modern, intuitive inventory management system to manage your inventory, these reports can be customized and generated in seconds.

You’ll be able to show supervisors, health department officials and stakeholders exactly what you have in stock to keep employees safe at any given time. 

3. Customized Low Stock and Expiring Product Alerts

For a grocery store in 2020, it’s one thing to run out of blueberry bagels… but it’s another thing entirely to run out of disposable masks. The right inventory management software can ensure this doesn’t happen to your business by alerting you when your stock of a given item falls below a user-specified threshold. 

One New Jersey-based emergency medical services provider put it this way: “If we run out of gowns, then we can’t treat any patients. So setting that minimum level and getting that alert is pretty important.”

Same goes for expiration dates. If you’re using products to protect your team that are only good for a certain amount of time, logging the expiration dates in your inventory app is essential. That way, if you choose the right app, you’ll get alerts as that date approaches, so you can prioritize using it up ASAP. 

4. Customizable Tracking by Category and Location

A top-notch inventory app like Sortly will also allow you to create hyper-customizable folders to keep track of where items are.

Some customers, usually those that inventory all sorts of items, create a specific folder named “PPE” for all their protective supplies. 

Others use folders as locations, like the previously mentioned New Jersey-based EMS, which created a folder for a stockroom and then a folder for each ambulance. This organization uses the barcode scanner to check items in and out to different folders. 

You could also use folders for different storage locations, or for different offices or storage facilities altogether. 

5. Instant Anytime, Anywhere Access

Another reality of doing business in a post-coronavirus world is the lack of day-to-day certainty. Perhaps somebody in your workplace will fall ill, and your jobsite will be closed for cleaning while other employees are tested. Perhaps an outbreak will spread in your community and local officials will reinstate shelter-in-place orders. 

If, unfortunately, this or any other scenario unfolds, an app like Sortly will still offer you instant and accurate remote access to your inventory. You’ll know exactly what you’ve got, what’s running low, what’s set to expire, and what you may need to order… without having to send anyone onsite to take a physical inventory. 

That means that when it’s time to get back to your place of business, you’ll be prepared to keep your team safe on day one. 

Businesses That Manufacture PPE

Products used to manufacture PPE are inventoried in an inventory app.

Whether your business has been making masks and gloves for years or has transformed its shop into a supplier of personal protective equipment in the past few months, keeping track of what you make is essential. 

After all, you don’t want to sell stock you haven’t got, can’t find, or won’t be able to make. Sortly can help you track the materials and finished products you need to fulfill and ship out orders—-and keep your customers safe and satisfied. 

These are just some of the many features that a top-rated inventory management app like Sortly can offer PPE manufacturers looking to stay organized: 

1. Simple Barcode and QR Code Scanning 

Barcode and QR code scanning is inventory automation at its finest. Forget sending an employee (or dozens of employees!) into every little nook and cranny of your factories, warehouses and stockrooms to take daily physical inventory of items like fabric and elastic. 

All your inventory manager needs to update inventory is a smartphone, tablet or compatible Bluetooth scanner. In seconds, the scanner can read a barcode to reveal details about a product or be used to check an item in or out. 

What’s more, If any product you’re using to create PPE doesn’t have an existing barcode or QR code, you can use Sortly’s custom QR code generator to create and print one. Same goes for your manufactured products. If you’ve just made 10,000 masks out of last year’s unsold sundresses, you can quickly create a QR code to inventory and track those items. 

Barcode and QR code scanning also reduces costly human errors because so many serial numbers or abbreviated product names look alike to tired eyes. What’s more, inventory automation can help you reduce the number of employees in one space at any given time. 

2. Customized, Revealing Reports

Sortly can instantly provide you with customized, beautiful CSV and PDF reports… whether you need to provide local, state or federal governments with information about your business’s PPE production or you simply need to know what you’ve got on hand for your next morning meeting.

You can use custom filters, tags and more to zero in on exactly what you’ve got and where it is in your supply chain… all wrapped up in a report full of revealing, insightful information and pictures. 

3. Ultra-Helpful Low Stock and Expiring Product Alerts

You can’t make masks if you run out of fabric, filters or elastic. Fortunately, Sortly allows you to customize alerts so you’ll know you the second you start running low on every and any product your organization needs. 

You can also set alerts for expiration dates (for cleaning supplies, etc.) and warranty ends (for expensive manufacturing equipment, etc.) 

4. Intuitive Tracking by Category and Location

Sortly allows users to create folders that help organize your inventory intuitively. How you set up your folders is entirely up to you, but many users find that creating folders for either categories or locations is most helpful.

It’s super easy to drag items from one folder to the next, so you could also create a system where you move inventory that’s “available” to “sold”, if that’s what your business wants. 

5. Access to Your Inventory—Wherever and Whenever

It’s 2020, and virtually no workplace is running “business as usual.” Perhaps half your team is on-site, trying to manufacture and fulfil orders, while the rest of your employees are working from home, marketing your new products, taking orders and handling customer service. 

If that’s the case, Sortly can function as a virtual stockroom that can show remote workers exactly what’s in a factory, storeroom or fulfillment center anywhere in the world. That’s great for everyday business operations, and also for peace of mind. You can triple-check your team has what you need to keep manufacturing needed supplies, even if you can’t be with them everyday. 

Businesses That Supply Others With PPE

Different organizations that are supplied PPE by one institution are shown in an inventory management app as folders.

If your business is an organization that’s been tasked with providing other organizations with personal protective equipment, things have probably gotten a lot more complicated at your workplace in the past few months. 

Fortunately, Sortly can help you streamline and simplify your PPE inventory in minutes. It’s all about creating a system that clarifies what you’ve got, where it is, and whether it’s been spoken for. 

Here are some of the best features Sortly can offer an organization that’s distributing PPE:

1. Time- and Stress-Saving Barcode and QR Code Scanning

Barcode and QR code scanning are two key components of inventory automation software. For starters, they take an incredible amount of work off your employees’ hands. 

Your team can use a smartphone, tablet or compatible Bluetooth scanner to instantly learn details about an item in a stockroom, including customized details like what department or organization the product has been promised to. 

Barcode and QR code scanning also makes inventory management easier by allowing you to  instantly access an item so you can recategorize it as it moves through your organization’s fulfillment system. Using inventory automation features like barcode scanning also drastically reduces the risk of human error, since the human eye can easily mix up numbers and similar product names. 

If you are managing inventory that does not have a barcode or QR code, Sortly allows you to create and print custom QR codes in seconds. 

2. Custom Reports For Every Kind of Request

Whether you need to share how you’re distributing PPE with your local, state or federal government, or simply need to review reports at internal meetings, Sortly has you covered.

Our inventory management software generates beautiful, totally customizable reports as both spreadsheets and PDFs. You can choose what and how information is shared and displayed on them, from extremely detailed, visual reports with pictures and tons of data to simple summaries. 

3. Helpful Alerts for Low Stock, Expiration and More

Sortly allows users to create customized alerts that are triggered when a given product’s stock dwindles or approaches expiration or warranty end. 

This is especially important for organizations like yours, since you are handling the logistics of procuring PPE on behalf of other groups. If you’re a local government, and you run out of masks, then it’s only a matter of time until your parks department, your sanitation department, your health and human services department run out of these items, too. 

4. Easy-to-Use Tracking by Category and Location

For governments that have used Sortly’s inventory app to take control of their PPE inventory management, no feature has been complimented more than our super-customizable folders.

Sortly allows you to create folders in a way that works for your organization. For some businesses, they create folders for categories of inventory. For other companies, folders are used to represent different storage areas or office locations. And for many organizations, folders are used to clarify the status of PPE inventory, like X, Y and Z. 

5. On-Demand Access to All Your Data

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, no organization has run according to its standard operating procedure. But Sortly was designed to help you adapt! 

If your offices close for a day or a week or even a month, you’ll still be able to find out exactly what you’ve got stocked insite its storerooms. You can also give customized access to different team members, so they can review information that’s important to them without accidentally messing with your inventory. 

About Sortly

Sortly’s mission has always been to help businesses manage their inventory in a way that’s smart and simple, even if they stock items in multiple locations or burn through stock at a very high rate. Features like low stock alerts, expiring item alerts, customized reports and QR code/barcode scanning make managing inventory faster and less stressful than ever before, even for users who aren’t so tech-savvy. 

While COVID-19 has changed almost everything in our world, Sortly’s goal remains the same: to make inventorying easy, so our customers can focus on what really matters: their business. 

Interested? Try Sortly free today!