Transitioning to a barcode inventory management system is a lengthy, involved process that intimidates many. However, the value of barcoding is undoubtedly worth the planning, research and testing such a system requires. Here’s how to bring barcodes to your business in four palatable steps:
1. Plan extensively
Barcoding benefits any business, but it’s important to determine what way the system will help yours. Do you need a new way of tracking inventory or costs? How is your business currently achieving that, and what steps will barcoding reduce or eliminate? Modern Machine Shop suggested creating a flowchart detailing the best way your new system should run.
It’s also important to consider the time and energy barcodes save. Managers should figure out how their employees can use this time effectively and increase productivity.
2. Choose the right type of barcode
Quality is key when it comes to barcodes. An illegible code causes more problems than it solves. It’s more worthwhile in the long run to buy an expensive barcode printer of higher quality than it is to buy a cheaper, low-quality one.
Of course, printing and applying labels may not be the best method for your manufacturing business. Standard barcode stickers degrade and have to be reapplied over time, so it may be best to choose a sturdier option for items that sit on shelves for months. Sticker codes don’t hold up well in harsh, industrial environments either. There are several options available should your business operate under such conditions, such as metal tags, stamps, high-temperature barcodes and coated barcodes.
3. Perform a test run
It’s great if you’re ready to get started, but running a trial run is crucial when implementing a new system of any kind, not just barcoding. Testing allows manufacturers to find and fix mistakes before the changes go live. Modern Machine Shop suggested running weekly trials, but there’s no harm in testing more often. It’s better to be overprepared and rest easy than to take the system online and run into glitches one after the other.
Manufacturers should use the test run to make sure each barcodes contains all the necessary information to operate efficiently. You may find you need the ability to see the quantity of one item by scanning it, or to see when the object was last moved. Your organization should remain in the testing phase long enough to ensure barcodes contain all the data employees need.
4) Go live with the system
After you’ve determined what sort of system you need, tested your barcodes and made sure of their durability and use, it’s time to go live. It may be difficult to integrate this inventory management system with your existing warehouse software, so businesses should keep in contact with their barcoding vendors. Organizations using Microsoft Dynamics NAV can easily implement NAV barcode scanning into their processes.
Interested in using barcodes within your manufacturing business? Download the “Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync” white paper.