These days, most manufacturing executives at least have a passing familiarity with the ways ERP can help them to improve their ongoing operations. However, one aspect of this kind of software that many have yet to adopt is barcoding. While this may sound a little complicated, the fact is that once it's implemented, it can significantly improve a manufacturer's bottom line in a number of ways, including giving them a better idea of forward-looking concerns like the supply chain. Moreover, it can do so on an ongoing basis that allows companies to spot trends well in advance.

In fact, when manufacturers start NAV barcoding everything coming into a facility and then going back out, it creates a sort of virtual bird's eye view of operations that were previously difficult or even impossible for manufacturers to get, according to a report from Modern Materials Handling. With this kind of technology – which has been around for years but only became part of the big picture for ERP more recently – companies will be able to monitor everything they have on hand on an ongoing basis. That, in turn, allows them to predict when they will need more of a given product, or when some materials build up due to relatively low demand.

What does that mean for companies?
With this kind of information at the fingertips of decision-makers throughout a company's overall manufacturing process, everyone has a better idea of what they do and don't need as time goes on, the report said. That can help them identify seasonal trends in demand, among other things. And while it may not always be easy to make those kinds of decisions in the shorter term, the fact is that even marginal increases in success can have massive impacts on businesses' bottom lines, potentially trimming expenditures significantly when areas of inefficiency are discovered.

How to maximize success
The reason why ERP can be so important in this regard is that when things are tracked more manually, such as with a physical inventory count being conducted on a regular basis, the patterns in question are far more difficult to recognize, according to a report from Quality Assurance Magazine. But ERP software is designed specifically to flag inconsistencies and other issues when they crop up, allowing for real-time problems to be discovered, and real-time decisions to be made. In addition, automating the inventory process is a big money-saver because it boosts productivity and trims man-hours that need to be devoted to such tasks.

The more that can be done to streamline every aspect of the manufacturing process, the better off those companies will be when it comes to maximizing profits. More efficiency typically means lower costs, and that can be a boon to businesses large and small.

For more information on improving efficiency with barcode technology, download the free white paper entitled "Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync" from Insight Works.