Inventory management is not an easy task. It can be hard to keep a track of where any particular part is at any given time. Indeed inventory management has always had a reputation for being a logistical nightmare, which is why when barcoding was introduced it helped to actually revolutionise the process!

Storeroom workers and supervisors can use barcoding systems to ensure that work orders are linked, that purchase orders also tie in to the amount of stock that is replenished and that all spare parts and equipment is tracked.

As soon as an item leaves the stockroom, it is immediately fed into the system and it becomes easier to know what stock is running low, what needs to be replaced and whether stocklimits are within acceptable margins.

Whereas previously inventory management had to rely on lots of paperwork and staff who could ‘keep an eye on’ stock levels (through perpetual stock reconciliations), these ways of managing inventory were not efficient and this is why the barcoding technique can be viewed as being the most logical way of addressing problems within inventory management.

Importance Of The Database

In order to ensure that the information that is processed by the barcode is useful, the ERP system used as the backbone of the barcoding system has to be accurate at the time of roll-out, so that the information is relevant and easily analysed. Without relevant information and the ability to effectively track and account for stock, the use of barcodes is not effective – so it’s important to consider how barcoding will sit with the ERP. But with the back up of a good database, the whole system can be transformed.

Speed!

The main benefit of the barcoding system is the speed with which information can be fed into the database and then analysed. When dealing with high levels of stock, it can be almost impossible for a person to gather this information and then process and analyse it, within a timeframe that is acceptable.

However, with the barcoding system, this is all done in a matter of minutes, so the whole process of inventory management is dramatically changed.

Security

The problem of inventory going adrift is a perennial problem in inventory management. Although in some instances there may be problems with regard to items being stolen, there are also products or items which may not have any re-sell value, but which will still go adrift. Historically this has been the result of poor record keeping, where items are simply not accounted for as they leave the stockroom.

When items are barcoded, then the risk of them going awol is far less, because the barcode enables items to be tracked at any given time.

Lack Of Mistakes

The computer technology that processes the information on the barcode simply processes that information. This means that it is far less likely for mistakes to occur. After all, when the system is managed by personnel, no matter how efficient they are, there is always the risk of ‘human error’ creeping in, so barcoding makes the system more robust and error free.

Demand Trends

Using a barcoding system helps to analyse the demand trends in terms of inventory being used or leaving the stockroom/storage facility. Without a barcoding system it is difficult to assess the demand spikes or troughs in a timely fashion. By the time the information has been processed, it may no longer be pertinent. So the barcoding system can be an analytical tool as well, which is actually quite a different role for inventory management, which historically has been viewed as very much a ‘back room’ function.

So there are a number of benefits to be derived from barcoding in inventory management and indeed in the future, it is likely to become ever more sophisticated and efficient; it is certainly the way forward!

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