4 Components of a Well-Designed Barcode System (1 of 4)

What is required? What are the steps? And in what order?

A well-designed barcode system will benefit a company in increased efficiencies and productivity, increased data accuracy and a better bottom line.  As you can imagine, there are several components that make up the full barcode system, and they need to be evaluated and selected in the most effective order.  For example, It doesn’t make sense to choose barcode equipment before you are clear on the application software, and you can’t select a barcode printer without knowing the label you will need to print.  The following is a discussion of the components of a barcode system and how to evaluate your choices.

The Starting Point – Do Your Homework

A barcode system by nature tracks the location of an item, provides an accurate count of items or provides traceability information for regulatory requirements.  Track, Trace, or Count – That is the first question.  You may have a need to perform more accurate and faster inventory counts.  Or you want to know at all times exactly where your tools are.  You might need to keep track of your capital assets for accounting purposes.  Or your manufacturing facility wants to cost jobs (labor and parts) against work orders.  The government may be asking you to trace your fresh food for safety and recall purposes.

Make a list of all the reasons you believe you need a barcode system.  Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself:

  • What business am I in?
  • Do I have inventory I need to manage better?
  • Are my shipments accurate or could a pack/shipment verification system help?
  • What items seem to get lost?  Could I track who has them with barcodes? (This could include engineering drawings, important documents, tools, capital equipment.)
  • What, if any, government regulations do I need to comply with?  Could barcode traceability help?
  • Are my customers asking me to label products or shipments for them?

If you are a manufacturer, typical barcode uses are inventory control, work-in-process, job costing, labeling shipments for customer compliance, packing and/or shipment verification.  If your company is a fabricator, there will also be custom tooling that will need to be tracked and maintained.  A seafood processor will need traceability of fresh products from receipt to shipment, product labeling for customer requirements, inventory tracking and packing/shipment verification.  Police departments use barcode to track evidence and equipment (such as vests, guns, car keys).  Be creative and you’ll be surprised how many applications there could be in your company.

Do a Flow Chart:


Automating a “bad” system doesn’t make any sense.  Producing a flow chart of your current process will uncover flaws and help you revamp how you do things to make it more efficient.  Your barcode provider can help with this too.  They have seen many processes in many industries and their expertise can prove invaluable.  If they don’t have ideas that can help you or if what they say doesn’t make sense you may want to consider changing vendors.

Once these steps are completed and you’re clear what type of system you want, start evaluating software providers.