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How Barcodes can Make your Supply Chain Management Simple and Efficient

ram@justransact.com 2015-12-08 06:34:00

Supply chain management is a complex business process under multi-store environment where one has to keep an eye on the movement of raw materials from suppliers till they became finished goods. Some time, one need to import raw materials and the complexities involved may delay the production which in turn will impact the turnover. With the invention of barcode technology, more businesses across the globe are using it for tracking purpose to make the supply chain efficient, organized and simplified.
 
For many years since the invention of barcodes, they were hardly used outside the retail point of sale (POS) systems. However, now-a-days barcode technology has become ubiquitous to any type of industry along the supply chains.
 
The vital business details stored on 1D (linear) or 2D (such as QR codes) barcodes immensely aids business establishments to identify/track inventory in an efficient and timely manner with errors going down considerably (about one error in every 3 million impressions) compared to manual system. Since all the businesses along the supply chain have access to barcode technology, details about products can be seamlessly monitored, checked passed-on and integrated throughout its passage till they reach the end users.
 
Though supply chain varies from company to company, there are certain stages which are common to most of the businesses. They are suppliers, production and distribution, in-house purchasing and delivery. Barcodes are present in every step, which help passing data seamlessly into the database with the help of cloud-based or other reliable technology.
 
Printing Barcodes on the Go
 
If raw materials or products arrive at your facility without bearing barcodes, you can create them and apply on each product quickly to begin tracking their movement. Barcodes can be created and pasted on the products anytime, even on the go. Seeing its vast advantages, businesses possess various types of barcode printers depending upon their applications. Basically, there are three types of barcode printers that are used for various business needs.
 
Industrial barcode printer: Ideal for warehouse applications, these printers can generate high quality details or graphic barcode impressions en masse.
 
Desktop barcode printer: Ideal for printing two and four-inch width labels using both thermal transfer and thermal technology.
 
Mobile barcode printer: Can be used to create barcodes anywhere and anytime, even outside your business area. These are hand-held devices that can be used to create proof of delivery or last mile scanning of products till they reach customer base.
 
Scanning options
 
Whether you store a product at your warehouse or remove it from a truck to deliver to your customer, barcode can be used in number of ways to read the data, translate them and send back to your database for future use. These are barcode scanners which are of different models - from gun type to rugged mobile models that can be in sync to your database too. With improve in technology, barcode scanners are made to recognize even torn, ripped or damaged barcodes. Some of the widely used barcode scanners are:
 
Hand-held scanners: Both cordless and corded, these scanners have linear, laser or 2D area imager scan engines. Widely used wireless scanners often connect the system through Bluetooth.
 
Fixed-mount scanners: They can read barcodes using laser scan engine when items are passed in front of it either manually or automatically using a conveyor belt.
 
Pocket sized or mini scanners: They provide the convenience of on-the-go scanning and transmitting data to a nearby tablet or smart phone.
 
Mobile computers: A combination of scanner and computer, they are the rugged and powerful devices which can run on traditional Operating Systems, enable real-time information transmission, have internal memory to store data and offer easy use and mobility, as anyone, from warehouse staff to field workers, can use them.
Barcode technology
 
Barcode technology continues to evolve with 2D becoming more common among businesses which need scanners that can scan and recognize both types of barcodes - 1D and 2D.
 
1D barcodes: These are linear barcodes having vertical lines and spaces of different thickness. Though barcodes are easy to print and scan, it has limited space of just 23 characters.
 
2D barcodes: They are also known as QR codes, which can store information horizontally as well as vertically and can hold more than 4000 characters. But the disadvantage is, it takes slightly more time to scan and read 2D barcodes than 1D barcodes.
 
As 2D scanner can read both types of barcodes, businesses that want to strengthen supply chain management should have 2D barcode scanners.
 
Instead of trying to combine different labels, records and reports across various businesses in your supply chain manually (where everyone has to have different system to store inventory), integrating a barcode system is an intelligent and smart way to manage goods movement across various warehouses or countries.
 
Harvard Business Review has underlined the importance of using barcode technology for effective and simplified supply chain management system. By utilizing the technology, where barcodes can be scanned, printed and scaled on demand, businesses of various sizes can update the status report in real-time, either via mobile or wired devices from anywhere along the supply chain. This allows complete transparency for the company, customers and suppliers.
 
So, if you want to simplify your supply chain network and keep track of records in real time to avoid possible business losses, barcode tracking is the best option which can make you move closer to automate your business for sustainable growth.

- K. Ramanathan   ram@justransact.com

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