Points to consider when you are investigating a bar coding project and implementation.
Timely – Scanning a barcode is very fast. A barcode scanner allows a user with limited data entry skills to read and record huge volumes on a sub-second time scale. Imagine buying a dozen items at the store. Which register line would you queue into; one with a cashier hand typing the UPC codes or one where the cashier was scanning the barcodes? Which receipt would you trust to be more accurate?
Accurate – Scanning a barcode is faster and more reliable than having to manually input the required inventory data. The average trained typist is estimated to make between 5 and 8 mistakes per 100 words. That estimate goes up dramatically for people that are not trained in touch typing techniques or are not proficient with a keyboard. Barcoded transactions contain a scanning error on the order of 1 mistake per million scans.
Time to knowledge – One goal is to push the capture of data down to the point where it is first known in your enterprise. That detail is then resident in the system for all user to see and act accordingly. By using a bar code, you then have gained access to this critical data as soon as possible and that data has been accurately captured by a user that most likely is not a data entry expert.
Paperwork reduction – Any paper based data collection system is subject to transcription errors, legibility issues and significant time delays. A barcoded system removes all of these issues and produces timely and accurate data in real time for all users to see. The real time nature of those transactions also includes second order benefits like all system users understanding the quantity counts of inventory at any point in the process. A barcoded system yields advantage to departments like customer service and accounting.
Language / Literacy – Barcoded data is universally presented. Users that speak a foreign language or those that have literacy issues all are capable of interacting with a bar code easily.
Consistency - A process of inventory control that is based on a bar code is by definition consistent. The series of programs deployed dictates the flow of transactions in a predictable manner. This consistency leads to uniformity of action which leads to efficiency. Consistency also leads to a simplified process of tracking down errors and omissions.
Reducing labor costs – It usually only takes a few minutes for an employee to learn how to use a barcode reader. Any user regardless of language skills or computer literacy can be easily trained. Trained users are then capable of generating timely and accurate data in real-time and sharing that information with all of their fellow users.
Versatility – Barcodes can be used for any type of data collection and include up to 2000 characters of information depending on the type of barcode and can usually be attached to any surface. (For reference, this bullet point is 198 characters including spaces.)