Barcodes have revolutionized inventory management practices, from monitoring small purchases in stores to sophisticated NAV barcoding technologies. The technology has significantly reduced human error by digitizing organizational processes. The history of the barcode proves it has changed much from its initial purpose.

History

Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland came up with the idea of the barcode in 1948. They created a system to identify ink patterns under ultraviolet light. The duo made many changes to their design over the years and eventually built a machine that electronically read printed material. The technology was later patented in 1952, but barcode machines were not implemented in stores for a few years because early machines were too large.

According to the Chicago Tribune, barcodes did not make it to stores until June 1974. The first barcode item scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. The barcode soon found its way into more grocery stores in the coming years, and people started using the systems for more than just monitoring chewing gum purchases. In the ’80s, hospitals began using barcodes for ID bracelets, and warehouses utilized barcode systems when organizing shelves and tracking shipments.

Current applications

NAV barcoding systems include improved mobile connectivity and better inventory tracking. The systems improve inventory tracking because once a barcode label is placed on an item, it can be quickly scanned for the next location and easily monitored with NAV barcoding software. This allows for accuracy, speed and efficiency. The efficiency of NAV barcodes lets managers track shipments closely reducing the risk of over- or under-ordering products.

When a NAV barcode system is integrated within a company, mobile connectivity improves because workers can easily use smartphones and tablets to check vital shipping and delivery information.

Barcode technology also improves processes like mobile warehouse management and shop floor data. Barcode systems make mobile warehouse management simple because data is digitized and easily sent to any location. Managers can track shipments to know expected arrival times, and a properly implemented barcode system helps workers find shelf locations and shipping dates for items simply by checking a computer.

Shop floor data collection lets managers have real-time updates and production numbers. Barcode systems monitoring labor, productivity and materials help businesses save money because they leave little room for warehouse errors. Barcodes digitally input data, reducing the risk of error by cutting out slower manual data entry methods.

Future uses

2-D barcode technology, or QR codes, are becoming more popular in inventory management systems. The 2-D technology is the same size as traditional barcodes but holds much more information. Manufacturers are also looking at more mobile systems that will help increase efficiency and productivity. Workers hope to create wireless functions with programs for easier tracking, shipping and management practices. These wireless systems will give workers the ability to manage multiple warehouses at once from any location.

Companies who want to learn more about NAV barcode technologies can download the Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync white paper today.