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Bar Codes for Business

It is quite surprising to us that many companies, even some with very high volumes of product movement have not switched to barcode labeling. Having the ability to scan as many items as necessary will:

1) insure accuracy of product picked

2) maintain dynamic inventory control

3) automatically generate shipping labels, corrected packing lists and manifests. This can take a company that is fighting shipping deadlines, to one that can keep pace with today’s customers’ expectations.

Accuracy assurance

One of the primary expectations is accuracy. Often, a customer only has to receive the wrong product or quantity once before he decides to switch to the competition – even if he has to pay more for the service than he believes he should.

We were reminded of this fact when we recently visited the distribution center of a very large, highly visible, international sporting goods company. We were surprised to see the very large floor space between 2 receiving doors (now rendered unusable) and product aisles, overflowing with randomly stuffed boxes and piles of returned products. Our embarrassed tour guide explained that many of their shipments to customers were late and/or inaccurate.

Eliminate the errors

Most picking errors occur when the picker incorrectly selects product from the wrong slot, especially easy to do when dealing with large numbers of small and/or similar items. The ideal fulfillment system has scannable labels on each carton, item and slot. However, even without carton and item labels, the scanning of slot barcodes alone, using completely automatic laser or radio-frequency (RF) scanners with each pick, will provide almost 100% assurance against errors. Note: slots that are high in the air can have coded positions keyed to labels that are reachable from floor level.

The picker scans the slot (and the product or carton if labeled), picks the number of items in that line for this order, scans the labeled receptacle into which they are placed, and manually enters the quantity, or scans one item as many times as necessary for correct count. (Ideally, this is done as a blind count.) If any of these scans does not match the order information, the error message is given, and the picker is immediately aware that a mistake has been made. Note: this complete verification eliminates the need for checkers except for the occasional QC checking dictated by company policy.  


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