History of Inventory Management Technology

Posted on: July 16th, 2018 by Writing Intern | No Comments

Inventory management has always been, and will continue to be, an unwavering concern for businesses.


Throughout history, inventory management was incredibly basic and provided very little in terms of accuracy. Oftentimes, inventory decisions were based on a hunch.

Ancient Methods

Long before the industrial age, keeping track of things consisted of manually counting and tallying items. The earliest form of inventory management dates back over 50,000 years in which people used “tally sticks” to count.


Archaeologists have also discovered the use of clay tokens dating back approximately 4,000 years ago. These tokens included symbols that were baked into clay and were used to record things such as sheep and other livestock.


Over time, inventory management developed into slightly more accurate systems of accounting and record keeping, particularly in ancient Greek and Egyptian societies.


Industrial Age

The start of the second industrial revolution brought incredible breakthroughs for inventory management. Herman Hollerith, an American inventor, developed the first modern automatic computation machine. Replacing pen and paper and saving countless hours of time, the tabulator and sorter machine was specially designed to record information using punch cards. These punch cards allowed people to record many types of data, including inventory.


Hollerith later went on to found the company that was to become the computer manufacturing company known as IBM.


Into the Future

Since the mid-1970’s, the barcode has predominately been many industries’ primary inventory management tool. In the late 1940’s, Norman Woodland invented the barcode due to a request from a distraught grocery store owner who needed help keeping track of inventory.


The first to take advantage of the technology included the National Association of Food Chains, which used them to decrease check out times. The first barcode ever scanned in a supermarket was a ten-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.


Further Advancements

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, similar to barcodes in terms of data collection, was first patented in the 1970s and uses radio waves for the identification of items. A microchip with an antenna contains a series of identification numbers, and together, the microchip and the antenna (the RFID tag) are passed through a chip-reader, which reads the information and places it onto a computer.


Benefits of RFID

Today, RFID technology is more efficient and accurate than the bar code system. For example, with bar codes, the device that scans the bar code has to be able to directly pass over the bar code itself. This usually means that people have to physically orient the bar code within accurate range of the scanner. Furthermore, bar codes can rip or become dirty, making it difficult for the scanner to identify the object.


The Ultimate Inventory Management Tool

At CITY, we invested in the ultimate inventory management tool. We use ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID technology, the most sensitive tracking system available, to track garments throughout the laundering process. As part of our CITY Quality Management (CQM) System, our UHF technology enables us to provide accurate uniform inventories, as well as clean and compliant uniforms.


CITY’s application of UHF technology shows both our commitment to using the most innovative solutions at our disposal as well as our commitment to serving our clients by the most efficient means possible.




Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.