How Do Barcodes Reduce Costs in a Warehouse?
Every introduction of technology to your warehouse or distribution center ultimately focuses on reducing operational costs. Introducing barcodes and advanced barcode scanners can reduce your warehouses’ costs and improve daily operations by:
- Increasing per-hour speed and productivity. Barcodes speed up order fulfillment by tracking the placement of goods within a warehouse and helping workers find and identify specific products. This allows your team to fulfill more orders faster.
- Improving mobility. Today’s wireless barcode scanners (and the barcodes themselves) enable workers to move freely throughout a large warehouse space with the portable instructions they need to fulfill orders accurately. Employees don’t have to return to a centralized station to pick up their next order.
- Improved accuracy. Human errors and missing information can create significant delays and costly errors for any warehouse system. With barcode systems, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of the wrong objects being selected for an order or large shipments of inventory being misidentified and stored in the wrong location.
- Reduction of manual processes. Manual tasks are slow and have significant clerical or labor costs associated with them. Digitally connected barcode reading systems can automatically update inventory numbers, trigger alerts for upcoming shortages, and even monitor related costs. Because technology can handle administrative and manual tasks behind the scenes, your company can reduce costs.
Applications of Warehouse Barcode Scanners
Warehouse barcode scanners can be used in many applications, including:
- Receiving. Scanners can read barcodes on arriving shipments and transmit the information to centralized inventory systems for tracking and storage details. This is an essential step for recordkeeping, and barcode scanners significantly reduce errors compared to manual data entry.
- Replenishment. Wireless scanners can identify pallets of goods and the pallet’s location or stage of processing within a warehouse. It can direct workers to the next steps of properly storing and organizing the goods.
- Order Picking. As employees fulfill orders by selecting individual units or pallets of goods, they can scan the items’ bar codes. This doesn’t just ensure they’re picking the correct object. The reader also informs the centralized data system that available inventory is decreasing and that a currently open order is being fulfilled.
- Shipping. By scanning the barcode of an object, workers can receive specific instructions about how to efficiently pack and ship the object. This ensures excellent consistency and quality control.
- Inventory Control. At every stage of use, barcode scanning systems are updating inventory records to show the individual movement of products so your company’s system has real-time data about the objects available for sale or transport.
- Reverse Logistics. Barcodes can be used to organize returns, send excess seasonal inventory back to long-term holding warehouses, and more.
Types of Barcodes Used in Warehouse Systems
There are multiple different types of barcode systems available. They include:
- UPC. These numeric codes are most commonly used for retail products.
- EAN. These codes are similar to UPCs but are meant to handle information transfer at the point of sale.
- Plessey. Retail locations and libraries commonly use these codes. They include letters and numbers.
- Code 39. This barcoding system is commonly used in automotive, defense, and other non-retail applications.
- QR Code. QR codes are more complex than most barcodes and can hold and transmit much more information.