The digital inventory opportunity

Dec 07 | 2021

The golden prize of digital inventories seems tantalisingly close right now. But is it really, or are the challenges beyond us? Steve Jordan finds out more.

The digital inventory opportunity

The good old handwritten inventories, with their carbonless multi parts, have been ubiquitous in the moving industry for decades, and they have served it well. But they do have their limitations:  they require a neat hand to be legible, can easily be misunderstood especially when it comes to recording exceptions, they require manual input to computer systems, and they are hard to translate. They really have no place in a digital age.

Digital inventories, by comparison, are much more flexible. They do away with the limitations of their analogue predecessors and provide the opportunity to create valuable efficiencies for the entire moving industry worldwide. 

ISO Standard 17451:2016
Some companies are already using them, they have been around for some time, but the adoption of digital inventories has been slow. Then recently their use received a massive potential boost.  A couple of years ago the International Association of Movers (IAM) led the publication of the ISO Standard 17451:2016 parts 1 and 2 entitled Packaging — Codification of Contents for Inventories for Shipments of Household Goods and Personal Effects. 

Part 1 established a common numeric coding for inventories.  This is important because it allowed software companies to design their systems to meet the Standard and make it possible to compile digital inventories on any device.  That was a big leap forward.

Bigger still, perhaps, is Part 2 which establishes the structure for transmitting the data, allowing it to be shared between interested parties, such as, for example, an origin and destination agent.

The difficulties
Great, you might say.  So why are we not all using them now? Well, it’s not that simple.  Nothing ever is ...

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