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5 ways implementing a barcode data capture system improves warehouse management

Warehouse management is a critical process in the supply chain. Failure to have the right technology in place to do this properly can lead to poor visibility, high costs and problems with fulfilment and customer satisfaction. Moving towards a warehouse logistics automation approach and adopting a barcoding solution will help your company take control of your inventory and track it throughout every stage of the warehouse process – from goods-in to inspection, packing and shipping. Not only will day-to-day operations improve dramatically, you can make huge savings, in terms of both time and money.

“Research has shown that keyboard data entry usually results in 1 error every 300 keystrokes. …. “

Here are the top 5 reasons why your company should consider a barcode data capture solution in your warehouse:

1. It removes manual processes

Tracking inventory manually, by keying in SKU numbers in to a spreadsheet for example, is not only a very time consuming process, the chance of human error occurring somewhere along the line is high. Barcodes give instant data transfer. Each item has a unique barcode which is captured using a hand held scanner, and on scanning, all information about that particular item is captured instantly and immediately fed back in to the system. Barcoding gives a real time view, there’s no need to wait until someone updates a spreadsheet.

2. It saves money

The bottom line is, failing to keep track of inventory will cost your company money. If you don’t know exactly what you have and where you have it, you will re-order parts which you believe are out of stock, only to then discover you already have thousands of them hiding somewhere in another part of the warehouse. Or, on the other extreme, you could be missing or not have enough of just one key part required for an assembly process, leading to delayed shipments, fines from your customer and them potentially them going elsewhere.

Stock rotation, expiry dates for example, is also of paramount importance. Having a manual system in place relies heavily on warehouse operators knowing when certain stock is due to expire or making sure that particular stock is carefully stored within specific locations in the warehouse, for example temperature controlled stock will be directed to a different area. Getting this wrong could add a heavy cost, as failure to rotate and identify stock could result in it being scrapped or recalled.

Adopting a barcode system gives compete visibility in to your inventory so you only order what you need and when you need it. A much more cost effective way operate your warehouse. Furthermore, it ensures quality control. Add to this the fact that barcodes are inexpensive to design and print, typically costing only a few pence.

3. It’s accurate

As mentioned above, another issue with manually inputting numbers is the likelihood of error. No matter how carefully a person treats the task, or checks their work, errors can sneak through. Research has shown that keyboard data entry usually results in 1 error every 300 keystrokes. Data entry via barcodes on the other hand, has an error rate of just 1 in 3 million, making it about 10,000 times more accurate. That’s a ROI that is difficult to dispute. Spreadsheets come with other issues too. What if it is not updated quickly enough before someone uses it to check the availability of certain items, believing what they see there to be correct? A spreadsheet can also only be updated by one person at a time which, if you have a number of people all working from the same document, can cause frustrations.

4. It saves time

Tracking inventory manually is also a very time consuming process. If your warehouse is not operating using an automated solution, employees can spend hours wandering around aisles searching for products to complete an inventory, only to find the product they require is not in the right place or there’s not the quantity they need, or even worse, the item is out of stock completely. All because records have not been properly updated. Once they do find the items they are looking for, they then need to spend time filling in paperwork or keying in to a spreadsheet. Scanning a barcode takes seconds and stock levels are updated instantly. It is altogether a much more efficient process.

5. It’s offers traceability and security

If your company is operating in an industry where security is paramount, for instance the defence, pharmaceutical or health care industries, it is vital that you are able to safeguard your stock, customers and suppliers.

A key differentiator for many supply chains is being able to have very granular traceability. That is, knowing exactly what materials were used to make what orders and how those orders were shipped. In regulated industries, such as those identified above, this can prove very costly as companies will have to manually record batch / serial numbers as well as often double keying freight forwarding details in to both their system and the carrier’s system. Barcoding technology can make traceability much easier as barcodes are fully traceable and auditable, which in turn, leads to a reduction in loss and liability.

Warehouse inventory management is expensive and full of risk to your business. Implementing a barcode inventory management system to automate your warehouse will ultimately ensure you are operating more efficiently leading to significant cost savings.

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