Have you been putting off using barcodes in your warehouse?
While barcodes may seem like a heavy lift, they are not as difficult as one would think. You can start small, by focusing on one area of the warehouse, a customer or process, and measure effectiveness from there.
Using barcode technology and a WMS can provide greater quality control over your warehouse operations, reduced costs, and many more efficiencies.
Implement barcode technology within the four walls of your warehouse
Barcodes are used to label a variety of elements in a warehouse such as products (including cartons and skids), locations, packing materials, and picking totes. These labels dramatically speed up transactions, replacing manual, physical or handwritten methods with a quick scan of a wireless device.
By implementing barcode technology, managers can capture data in real-time and oversee warehouse activities with more speed and accuracy. This increased efficiency and visibility can have a major impact on the bottom line.
Key transactions you can accelerate
Barcodes can be used to perform a multitude of wireless warehouse transactions. Our customers are using barcodes and wireless processing for:
- Receive Inventory
- Confirm Put-Aways
- Confirm Automatic Kit Builds
- Move Inventory
- Merge Inventory
- Transfer Inventory
- Record Physical Inventory Counts
- Pick to Cart
- Confirm Inventory Picked
- Confirm Inventory Picks by Line Item
- Confirm Inventory Replenishment by Line Item
- Product Verification
- Package Contents Tracking
Benefits of using barcode technology
The implementation of barcodes can help streamline your warehouse operations in the following ways:
Improve accuracy all around
Often, warehouse employees work from handwritten notes to capture key information that is then manually entered into a computer. This form of data entry can be prone to human errors from illegible or misinterpreted data.
Barcode scanning eliminates the need for manual data entry for functions like inventory receiving, transfers, and cycle counts. Performing transactions via barcodes instead of manually keying data at a computer results in minimized mistakes across your operation.
Keeping up with a high volume of orders, especially orders with expedited or same-day shipping, while maintaining accuracy can be one of your biggest headaches. By incorporating scanning into your order processing, you can reduce the time it takes to get orders out the door.
For example, when barcodes are used along with a pick-to-cart workflow, a worker can quickly pick inventory and let the system validate that the correct item was picked. This is especially effective for a batch of multiple orders. A picker can follow an efficient system-directed walk sequence through the warehouse, eliminating retraced steps.
Using wireless devices in the warehouse maximizes productivity by allowing material handlers to complete their work remotely instead of at a computer. By doing so, workers are more agile; they can quickly move on to the next task at hand, saving on labor time. Scanning devices also allow workers to be more mobile; they can go wherever the inventory is whether it be a loading dock or bulk zone.
Receive real-time updates
Once a barcode transaction has posted, data is updated and visible in the WMS immediately. If you’re using barcode scanning for inventory management, inventory levels can be updated on the fly once transactions have posted via a wireless device.
Another benefit is that barcode technology allows the team in the warehouse to track more granular steps in the fulfillment process without affecting throughput. It is quick to record the date, time, and the user who performed each step, including pick, pack, and ship. Without barcode scanning, it is most likely not cost-effective to record each detailed step.
Track employee performance
By using barcode technology to track more granular steps in the fulfillment process, managers can benefit from:
- Increased accountability by tracking material handling activity by user, date and time
- Access to additional data to analyze and evaluate employee performance
Keep customers happy
Your customers will reap the rewards of barcode technology. Meeting SLA’s, getting accurate orders to customers and keeping inventory levels up-to-date will ensure your customers stay with you.
Things to consider before using barcode technology
Before you implement a barcode scanning system for your warehouse, there are a few things to keep in mind:
It can be time-consuming
Depending on your warehouse size, labeling each rack bay location with barcode labels can take a fair amount of time. Don’t assume that the process will happen quickly.
Features and capabilities
Are there any hardware limitations that affect connections to input devices like printers? Is the system fast and reliable with no downtime throughout the day? Can it recognize various types of barcodes?
Requirements and costs
Using barcode technology can reduce cost, but if your business receives a relatively low number of orders, the cost and training time spent to implement it may not be justified. Make sure to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine the ROI.
Business goals and objectives
Make sure that the barcode scanning system will contribute to achieving your business’ growth targets. Identify both short- and long-term goals and requirements, including the system’s impact on daily business operations.
The bottom line
While implementing barcode technology requires some upfront work, the return on investment is worth it. Your employees will be happier and more efficient. Happy and efficient employees lead to better accuracy rates with lower operating costs.
Not only will barcode technology help your bottom line today, but it will also help you get ready for new technologies like robotics and AI that continue to mature.
Interested in learning how you implement barcode technology with VeraCore’s WMS? Schedule a demo with one of our fulfillment experts today!
Ready to manage your growth the smart way?
Brian Parrillo is Vice President of Sales at VeraCore.
He has over 19 years of experience in the fulfillment industry and has helped hundreds of 3PLs reduce operating costs, improve customer experience, and optimize their overall business processes.