Effective inventory management is the cornerstone of any manufacturer or chemical distributor’s business. Keeping on top of all their transactions and being able to track and manage product is essential to meet demand, manage customer expectations, and deliver on time and in full.
The barcode inventory system remains the most common of the asset tracking technologies. Today, some 70 years since its invention, over 90% of companies still rely on the humble barcode because of its low cost, accuracy, and versatility.
The ubiquitous barcode consists of a series of numbers and vertical lines of varying thicknesses to create a machine-readable code. A more modern version called a QR code is also becoming far more commonplace. Data is accessed using a scanner, tablet, or smartphone and allows users to quickly and easily access information about a product and keep track of inventories and deliveries.
What are the benefits?
- Improved accuracy. While it’s all too easy to make mistakes with manual data entry, scanning a barcode ensures you get the right data, every time. When used with good quality labeling, barcodes are durable, reliable, and easy to scan.
- Time savings. A quick scan of a barcode is far quicker than typing in lengthy serial numbers – and even more so if you’re dealing with multiple products or larger stocks. Not only is it quicker to access product information, but less time is wasted remedying any problems or discrepancies due to mis-typed data. That means your team can spend time on other more important tasks.
- Customer satisfaction. Improved accuracy and fewer mistakes means happier customers and more repeat business. Better managing inventories also makes it easier to respond to customer queries and keep an eye on how much product is in stock and when more needs to be ordered.
- Cost savings: Barcodes are a low-cost solution compared with other asset tracking technologies. There are no expensive chips or electronics needed – simply generate a code, print the barcode onto a label, and attach it to an asset. Barcode inventory systems allow businesses to operate more efficiently and hold lower stocks – improving cash flow and significantly reducing storage costs.
- Gain insight. Capturing inventory data provides valuable insight into performance, trends, and buying patterns. This information can be integrated with Datacor ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to offer real-time visibility, optimize inventory levels, reduce waste, and quickly adapt to customer demand. Datacor’s integrated MRP (Material Requirement Planning) module also provides more timely and accurate suggestions with real-time inventory status.
Preparation is Key
Introducing a barcode inventory system into your workflow not only requires investment in terms of the hardware and software, it also needs full buy-in from everyone involved.
First and foremost, executive alignment and sponsorship is essential as implementing a barcode inventory system requires a lot of change management. Your team should be fully onboard and be prepared to trust the system. They will, of course, also need to be properly trained to understand the scanning process and how to manage the data.
From a practical point of view, the setup process is simple – although it does pay to prep and plan everything well in advance.
You’ll need to print the barcodes, label existing stocks, and barcode inventory at time of receipt. This will allow you to scan product and move it throughout your warehouse.
Remember, not only are you going to be scanning and validating a specific product or lot, but you're also going to be scanning the bin or area where you’re going to be putting it. You’ll therefore need to identify where you’ll be moving product to and mark the various locations accordingly, giving them their own unique barcode as well.
Wireless connectivity throughout the warehouse is a must. Find out where there is weak signal, dead spots, or interference and think about boosting your wireless network to give you greater coverage.
Certainly, the largest investment when implementing a barcode inventory system is the industrial enterprise-grade barcode scanners, although a cheaper option is to use modern tablets and iPhone/Android phones. There are occasionally long lead times when purchasing hardware, so don’t forget to factor this in and order well in advance of your go-live date.
To lay the groundwork and properly integrate it with existing systems, the entire process typically takes anywhere between 6-9 months.
A Sound Investment
A well-employed barcode inventory system can significantly improve workflows, save time, and help you make better informed decisions. Any initial investment can quickly be offset by the associated cost savings and efficiency gains.
Managing stocks more effectively and keeping track of product, makes a business safer and more efficient – both critical to success in today’s marketplace.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are barcodes?
Barcodes are machine-readable codes consisting of vertical bars and spaces that contains information about a product and its attributes. There are several different types of barcodes, including the standard UPC (Universal Product Code) and QR (Quick Response) codes, which can be used to track and monitor stock levels and shipments.
What is a barcode inventory system?
A barcode inventory system allows you to tracking inventories by scanning a barcode. It can help businesses keep better control of their product and improves their efficiency and productivity by saving time and reducing errors. In turn, this helps to improve customer service and optimize workflows.
What are the steps for implementing a barcode inventory system?
Planning is essential for a barcode inventory system to work effectively. It’s important to train staff and get full buy-in from the team, decide what – and where – you’re going to display a barcode, and source the required handheld scanners or tablets well in advance.
What are some of the key features of Datacor WMS (Warehouse Management System)?
Datacor WMS allows warehouse workers to record and track inventory transactions in real-time via a mobile device. Intuitive and easy to use, it can be used for common transactions such as purchase receipt, label print, order picking, location transfer, inventory repack, batch staging, batch receipt, cycle count, physical inventory, and inventory lookups.
To learn how Datacor can help your company streamline operations and increase efficiency, sign up for a personalized demo today.