Urban Spring provides eco-friendly drinking water solutions on a rental model to consumers and corporate clients in Hong Kong. Their business grew rapidly as demand increased for the awareness to reduce single use plastics.
The Inventory Challenge
Urban Springs rental business model means tracking thousands of water dispensers as they are shipped between warehouses and customer locations. Their inventory must match supply with demand across a dispersed customer base. Accurate real-time tracking of each asset is critical.
Additionally, Urban Spring maintains an inventory of consumable parts like water filters and spare parts to service their rental assets. With 100+ SKUs sourced globally, monitoring availability and timing reorders is imperative.
The Pains of Choosing the Mr.Right (Inventory System)
Initially, Urban spring tracked inventory via spreadsheets. But with 100+ SKUs from multiple vendors, inaccurate manual counts made it hard to forecast demand.
To improve, they implemented EZ Office Inventory, an SAAS solution. However, being designed for generic use cases, it wasn’t optimized for Urbanspring’s specific rental model:
- Tracking each dispenser’s location as it moved was tedious using generic product inventory features.
- The desktop-oriented interface delivered a clumsy mobile experience.
- Dedicated check-in/out computers were time-consuming workarounds.
- Irrelevant features cluttered the system, reducing intuitiveness.
EZ Office Inventory couldn’t deliver the tailored workflows and mobility Urban Spring needed to scale efficiently. A custom solution was required, but months of traditional software development were simply cost-prohibitive.
To tackle this, Urban Spring partnered with AIRO, Hong Kong’s leading no-code agency. With expertise in platforms like Airtable,N8n and Retool, AIRO was positioned to deliver the automated, mobile solution Urbanspring required in weeks instead of months using the modern low code solutions and at 1/4 of the cost.
The inventory system consists of two key workflows:
Consumable Parts Check in/Check Out Workflow
This workflow focuses on high-volume consumable parts like water filters and spare parts. The workflow was built in Airtable using:
- A Parts table containing metadata like part number, description, etc.
- A Check-in table to record receipts from suppliers into inventory.
- A Check-out table recording issues of parts for production, service, etc.
The Parts table has a rollup field summing check-ins and check-outs to track real-time inventory. The simple workflow provides visibility into consumable parts stock levels.
Asset Tracking Workflow
The second workflow tracks location status of high-value assets like water dispensers with unique serial numbers. It utilizes:
- An Assets table containing device metadata like serial number, model, etc.
- An Asset Transactions table to record asset transfers between locations like warehouses or customer sites.
When a transaction is entered, an airtable automation updates the Assets table with the new location. This provides real-time visibility into where specific high-value assets are situated across the supply chain.
Combining these workflows delivers a comprehensive inventory monitoring system tailored to Urbanspring’s needs, with the flexibility to adapt as those needs evolve.
Results & Benefits
The customized inventory management system delivered:
- Saving staff time spent on manual inventory tracking and administration
- Optimized workflows for managing rental assets and consumable parts
- Real-time visibility into dispenser locations and consumable stock levels
- Enhanced asset history with tracking of each dispenser’s movement
- Custom analytics on rental utilization rates, part consumption, and other KPIs
- Mobile access for on-the-go inventory management
By leveraging no-code customization, Urbanspring x AIRO gained an agile inventory system tailored to their unique workflows. This provided the accuracy, efficiency and insights needed to scale their innovative rental model.