The barcode is the unsung hero of the modern industry. It’s not often thought about, but it’s a foundational tool in many of today’s emerging technologies. Barcodes are a gateway to the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI-driven automation in supply chain logistics.
Barcodes have long been used in grocery and retail stores to help with identifying, pricing, and selling merchandise. Today’s barcodes can be found in nearly every industry, and they advanced to include QR codes in addition to traditional linear barcodes. They’re being used to streamline processes while increasing productivity and scalability.
Shipping companies like FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service use barcodes to track packages. Amazon employs a barcode system for warehouse and delivery logistics to cover its entire supply chain. It’s time for everyone to learn how to implement a barcode system in warehouse operations.
Benefits of a Barcode System for Warehouse
Although barcoding is becoming more prolific, some organizations are hesitant to implement it. This is typically due to a lack of understanding of the technology. Modern barcode printers are customizable and mobile to make implementation in any business seamless.
Implementing a barcode system for a warehouse has four notable benefits.
1. Cuts Labor Costs
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows warehouse workers are consistently working over 40 hours per week. September 2019’s average was 41.3, up from 40.7 three months prior. This is happening while the cost of barcode printers is going down, making it cheaper than ever to start using in your company’s warehouse.
Modern smartphones have barcode scanning apps, and free barcode fonts can be found all over the internet. Many barcode printers also have these (and other) fonts and image libraries built-in. When combined with proprietary software and templates, any size business can learn how to implement a barcode system for warehouse operations.
2. Increases Speed, Efficiency, and Accuracy in All Aspects of the Warehouse
Without barcodes, warehouse clerks must manually enter coded information on shipments that come through their office. It’s necessary to inspect each individual package within a shipment to register everything as received. This leads to data entry errors and lost inventory, as items can be skipped, characters mistyped, etc.
A barcode system for warehouse operations provides a reliable method of scanning information into an inventory management system. Human error is reduced, as is the amount of time necessary to process shipments received and sent. This is the only feasible way to scale warehouse operations without substantially increasing the paid employee hours needed.
3. Better for Tracking
Having every package barcoded allows a warehouse to track their movements throughout the supply chain in real-time. This barcode system maintains a living inventory of everything stored in the warehouse. As items leave, they’re scanned to document the transfer to the transportation company. These records can then be archived for compliance down the road.
Using a disciplined barcode system in warehouse processes creates an audit trail of valuable data. Inventory cycles, physical counts, returns, and other clerical costs can easily bottleneck a warehouse if not proactively managed through barcodes. Integrating barcodes into existing systems enables real-time and historical data tracking.
4. Increases Mobility
There was a time when barcode printers were stationary, which reduced efficiency since workers were forced to continue walking back and forth to the printer. Modern barcode printers have intuitive mobile options that make the process significantly easier. It’s done through proprietary software that runs on Windows, Linux, and other platforms to streamline operations across all devices.
From there, print templates and customizable data entry forms combine with a rich image library to enable easy editing on the fly. Warehouse workers use wireless scanners to capture data on the docks and send the information to the clerical offices automatically, through encrypted wireless channels.
How to Implement a Barcode System in Warehouse
Barcodes are among the most critical technologies businesses use to optimize supply chain operations. They increase the visibility of inventory while enabling more data-driven processes. Warehouses that move toward automation are doing so using barcodes, among other IoT technologies.
A barcode system for warehouses streamlines processes to remove manual steps that lead to costly mistakes. It connects shipping and receiving to clerical operations seamlessly, while upper management is kept in the loop with real-time reporting.
These improvements reduce labor costs and increase productivity, allowing warehouses to scale to meet the increasing challenges of today’s on-demand economy.
Contact DME today to learn how to revolutionize your warehouse operations using our barcode systems.