Managing their warehouses is one of the several business priorities of managers around the world. To avoid stockouts, many managers use barcode scanning systems. A barcode scanning system for a warehouse not just helps avoid stockouts, but also assists the warehouse management team to maintain assets over time. Users do not require any special training to handle a simple barcode inventory system, which helps save time. Other benefits of using barcodes include rapid availability of data, and price and time-saving.
Components of a barcode scanning system
Usually, a barcode scanning system for inventory management comprises of three components:
Barcodes include black and white zebra stripes that store important information related to the item barcoded. Traditional systems used one-dimensional barcodes that represent data by varying the widths and space between the parallel lines. Two-dimensional barcodes, on the other hand, do not use bars. Instead, they include different geometric patterns such as hexagons, dots and rectangles.
Barcoding and mobile hardware
Every system includes a scanner that is used to scan items. Earlier, special optical scanners were used for the purpose. Conventional scanners are bulky, which makes it difficult for teams to carry them everywhere. Thanks to advancement in technology, mobile devices are fast replacing handheld scanners in warehouses. Over the years, the quality of cameras used in smartphones has improved drastically, making them fit to be used in warehouses.
Inventory management software
Inventory management software is a repository of information. They store data related to the items stocked in a warehouse. Top management uses this information for various purposes such as scheduling maintenance activities, deciding the reorder level for a particular item and forecasting future patterns.
How to set up a barcode system
To set up your barcode system, you need to follow these steps:
- Generate a barcode using a free barcode generator.
- After deciding the information that you want to be displayed, add fields (Tip: start by adding fewer fields).
- Use specialized printers and software to create labels.
- Integrate your barcoding system with the inventory software of your choice.
How does a barcode scanner work?
When the user points the scanning head of the scanner onto the barcode, light reflects back into a photoelectric cell. While white areas reflect the most light, the black ones reflect the least. When the user moves the scanner past the barcode, a pattern of on-off pulses is generated. An electronic circuit converts these pulses into binary digits (a pattern that could be understood by humans) after which they are sent to a system attached to the scanner.
Selecting a barcode scanning system
Not all barcode scanning system are made equal. To achieve your ROI goals, you need to select a system with features that are aligned with your business objectives. To help you make an informed decision, we have created a list of things to consider when selecting a barcode scanning system.
1. Barcode symbology
The type of scanner that you need will depend on the barcode symbology you plan to use. If you want to use 1-D barcodes, you don’t have to look for a specific type, as almost any type of scanner can read them. If, however, you plan to use two-dimensional barcodes such as QR codes, look for a scanner that is specially designed to read them. Steer clear of laser scanners for 1D barcodes as they cannot scan their 2D counterparts.
2. Your business goals
When choosing a barcode scanning system, think about your business goals and objectives. Seek answers to questions such as how the system will help you achieve these objectives. Determine the purpose that you want the system to serve. Determine the level of scalability that you need. Think about the inventory management issues you are facing and how the system can help address these problems.
3. Scanning environment
When choosing barcoding & mobile hardware, remember to consider your scanning environment. For factory settings, use rugged or ultra-rugged scanners. Remember to check the IP rating for each device. The IP rating of a device denotes its degree of protection against the elements such as dust and dirt particles, and moisture.
If you work in extreme temperature, remember to check the device’s operating and recharging temperature. Devices that are not designed to function in cold conditions can develop operational issues. Exposure to low temperature can alter the shape of the scanner’s screen. Repeated condensation, on the other hand, can cause the internal components of the device to corrode and short circuit.
4. Wired vs wireless connection
When opting for a barcode scanner, determine the type of connection that is best suited to meet your needs. If you collect data in real-time and use a cloud-based inventory system, look for a wireless scanner. When selecting a wireless scanner, you will have two options; you can either opt for a scanner that transmits data through Wi-Fi or look for a device that transmits data through a mobile broadband connection.
For field teams, opting for a scanner that uses a mobile broadband connection makes more sense. Devices that use Wi-Fi to transmit data, on the other hand, are more suited for teams that scan within a central location. If you are not transmitting data in real-time with a cloud-based system, using a wired device should do the trick.
Last but not least, make sure the device is compatible with the software you are using.
Don’t forget to see How to Choose the Best Barcoding and Mobile Hardware Vendor!