Barcodes are powerful little tools for businesses. Do not be deceived by their size. These small little black and white squares and rectangles are able to really speed up many of your business processes and help you avoid all sorts of problems that would otherwise plague your inventory data. It is time for the truth about barcodes to be laid out in plain and simple terms so that there is absolutely no confusion about what they are and what they can do for your business.
What a barcode scanner can do
Reading a barcode with a barcode scanner allows you to gain access to detailed information about a product, including its cost, proportions, specifications, sales history, order history, number in stock, locations it is located at, and much, much more.
You can use barcodes, barcode scanners, and the inventory app Fishbowl Go to do the following tasks:
- Pick Inventory – Get inventory items from off your warehouse shelves in preparation for shipping them to the customers who have ordered them.
- Pack Inventory – Select the appropriate number and size of cartons to contain the items that are going to be shipped to fulfill a sales order or transfer order.
- Ship Inventory – You can either scan a ship number or select it on a mobile device’s screen and then schedule it to be shipped via the appropriate carrier.
- Receive Inventory – Scan items that are coming into your warehouse to verify that their quantities, status, and part types match up with what is listed on the purchase order you sent to your vendor for those parts and products. You can reconcile any discrepancies between received and ordered items.
- Move Inventory – Transfer inventory from one location to another within a single warehouse or between two warehouses without requiring a transaction or any exchange of money to facilitate the transfer. This can be done for any number of reasons to eliminate shortages at one location or to restructure the layout of your warehouse, among other reasons.
- Add Inventory – Increase the quantity of inventory you are storing at a specific location and even a specific area within that location. You may have a number of copies of the same inventory items stored in different parts of a warehouse, so this helps you keep them all organized.
- Scrap Inventory – Junk inventory items that are no longer usable. They may have become damaged, gone past their expiration date, or become obsolete. Whatever the reason, it has become necessary to get rid of it from your warehouse and your inventory records.
- Cycle Count Inventory – Walk through your warehouse and physically check the quantities that are actually on the shelves and make sure they match up with the records you have on file. If those quantities are not the same as what you believe they should be, you can instantly update your inventory records to reflect the reality of the situation.
- Check Part Information – As mentioned above, you can simply scan a part or product’s barcode and get detailed information on it. This includes its unit of measure, locations, UPC, description, on hand inventory, available inventory, committed inventory, and more. You can also print an item’s barcode using this feature.
- Finish Work Orders – If manufacturing is a part of your job, you can check the status of open work orders and make sure all of the necessary parts and materials have been picked to finish each work order. If they have not been picked, then you can open the work order and pick those parts yourself.
- Deliver Orders – Once an order has been shipped and delivered to your customer, you can request that a signature be obtained to make sure the right person obtained the right package at the right time.
How Barcodes Work
Do you know how barcodes are able to hold all sorts of data in just a few vertical lines? That is actually a trick question because most barcodes do not contain detailed data – they only contain a reference number that can be used to find the appropriate data on file. A barcode scanner reads that number, looks it up in a computer database, and then displays the product information found in that central location on the barcode scanner for you to see. It does not come from the barcode itself. The barcode is still an important tool because it facilitates the process of gathering information, but it is not generally the source of that information.
Barcodes are often mistakenly assumed to contain product information. Very few barcodes do contain it, though. Those special exceptions are called two-dimensional barcodes or matrix codes. Two-dimensional barcodes (such as PDF 417, QR Code, Aztec, MaxiCode, and Data Matrix) look different than regular 1D barcodes. They kind of look like black-and-white Rorschach tests. PDF 417 barcodes are mostly used in the shipping industry by such companies as UPS and FedEx. QR Codes are often used in magazines and other places that are focused on consumers to get them to scan them and go to a website.
One-dimensional barcodes, also known as linear barcodes, are much more common than 2D barcodes. When you look at most products on store shelves, you can usually find a 1D barcode on them because they have been around far longer than 2D barcodes and they are quite ubiquitous. There are many different types of linear barcodes, such as UPC, RSS, EAN, Interleaved, Code 39, and IMB. You will find IMBs on the bottom of envelopes that you send through the United States Postal Service. They help the USPS track mail as it is sent across far distances so that important items rarely, if ever, get misplaced.
Inventory Barcode Software
Barcodes are important for businesses because they help them instantly update their inventory barcode software and stay up to date on their inventory levels and needs. See how barcodes can help your business increase efficiency by trying a free trial of Fishbowl Manufacturing or Fishbowl Warehouse. Fishbowl Go integrates with these manufacturing and warehouse management solutions to facilitate barcode scanning and inventory tracking within a single warehouse or in multiple warehouses.
Need an easy way to create barcodes? Click here to access Fishbowl's Free Barcode Generator.
The truth about barcodes is that they are a big help to business. They let companies:
- Pick, pack, and ship orders
- Receive items
- Move inventory
- Add and scrap inventory
- Cycle count
- Check part information
- Finish work orders
- Deliver goods