As a software integrator and systems specialist, I’ve helped implement scores of ERP and business software systems over my career. One day I thought – “could I bar code my children?”. I have six children, and I felt there had to be a better way to know when they left (sales), when they got back (receipts), and who was physically at home at any one time (inventory count).
And because many clients are unsure of exactly what they want from a bar coding system, I decided my plan would also give clients a more human illustration of the options and the capabilities of the technology. Yes, bar coding my children would give them that first hand view.
Kidding aside, owners, inventory managers, or whomever is tasked with product flow within the business know that they want something. They see that many successful businesses have deployed a bar coding solution. But what exactly does it mean – what’s involved in deploying and maintaining it.
Now it’s a must that you integrate your bar code system with your ERP system. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting your time and money. Bar coding means productivity and integration enhances it, non-integration negates it.
There are two scanning methods – wireless and tethered.
The wireless device: Symbol and Intermec are two of the more popular brand names. Bar codes are separated into various functions such as receiving off of a purchase order, shipping off of a sales order picking sheet or packing list, or performing a physical count. The logic is that a purchasing agent buys something and places a P/O. When the product arrives at the warehouse door, the receiving person scans the product, but must first scan the P/O, so that the product can be allocated to the correct receiver. The process of receiving, or shipping, or doing physical counts, saves time, money, and results in fewer errors. Depending on your ERP system, the data will either go into a batch for auditing before posting, or directly into inventory, increasing the quantity received on the specific P/O.
The tethered option: This functions quite differently than the wireless. Literally, it replaces typing on a keyboard. The operator of the scanner may be at a shipping screen, or a physical count screen, or a receiving screen. Instead of having to type the item number or perform a query, they scan the item code, efficiently replacing the keyboard and producing fewer errors. The main disadvantage is that the operator is tied to the location of the computer. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen the implementation of a computer and a tethered bar code gun atop a wheeled table.
Now to print: Eventually, someone, somewhere will have to print bar codes. Ideally, the bar code printing will be integrated with your Enterprise Resource Planning system. Ultimately, this is the goal and increases efficiency. Zebra printers have a large marketshare for label printers and can be an excellent choice. Quality labels are also a must, Test for the elements that exist where the labels will have to stick, such as a cold, humid or hot environment).
Bar coding saves time, money, and reduces errors. It can even make a tedious job more interesting resulting in less staff turnover. Now if I could just get my children to stay still long enough for an accurate physical count I’d have it made.
If you need help with barcoding systems, email me at solutions@ACIconsulting.com and I’ll put our team to work on it.
-Douglas Luchansky, CEO