More companies are considering the use of bar code scanning in their warehouse and inventory management areas. Initially, there is usually great enthusiasm for the initiative until the analysis is done and it becomes “more expensive than we thought”.
Bar code transaction processing has been around for decades – in fact, it is just celebrating its 40th anniversary. Just think….when was the last time you bought something at the grocery store that wasn’t scanned? In fact, scanning has becoming pervasive in our daily lives –our rental cars are scanned when we return them, our sports tickets are scanned when we enter the stadium, we are checked out in real-time at the Apple Store, and we even have our Redbox Movie Rentals processed by unattended scanners.
It seems so easy and so efficient – rather than type into the computer, we just want to scan the label and automate the transaction from there. Why can’t I just hook a wedge scanner to the PC and have it work? Shouldn’t I be able to buy a $125 scanner and just plug it in? Seems logical, doesn’t it? Let’s take a deeper look at some of the issues.
Applications that are written for large screens, and keyboard entries that aren’t necessarily ready for input from a scanner.
Applications, like the SAP Goods Receipt PO, are written to accept input in a way that builds upon the previous entry. It requires the use of multiple keyboard actions like the shift, tab and enter buttons, to call the program to action. Simply scanning a barcode doesn’t duplicate the human intervention needed to process a transaction. This is why there is usually some software that works in unison with the scanner to help process the transaction … it takes the place of the keyboarding and screen use knowledge that the end user is required to have.
There may be more on the barcode label than it appears.
Increasingly suppliers are embedding more and more data into a single barcode. This technique is very popular where lot/batch tracking and/or serialized tracking of products is required. Processing these types of barcodes require software that can interpret the codes and then place the data in the right field on a transaction. Think of what would happen if you scanned a barcode that contained the product number (UPC code), the lot number and an expiration date – all of that entered into the Item Number field on an ERP data entry screen. In this case, the use of barcode scanning without a proper software solution is counterproductive.
I can’t see the benefit of spending money on the wireless equipment for the warehouse
There are always multiple parts of your business competing for the limited pool of dollars available for investment. Unfortunately, when people think of the warehouse they think of spending money there as a “cost”.
Turn that thinking from a “cost” to an “investment” and look at the benefits that are created.
- Barcode Scanning at the point of receiving increases inventory accuracy by 60%
- Barcode Scanning is 9 times faster than manual data entry.
- Sales Order Picking using bar code scanners virtually eliminates picking errors
- Introducing barcode scanning and location tracking into your warehouse can increase operational efficiency by up to 20 percent.
Those are very real figures and significant returns on an “investment” in wireless barcode scanning in the warehouse.