Using Barcodes in a Low-cost Stock Control System
Implementing a barcode system does not have to be expensive as long as you define your objectives and decide which parts of it will be most cost effective. We will try and define some of these now.
In a warehouse for example the activities can generally be defined as Receive, Put away, Move ,Pick and Despatch, With the ancillary activities of Loan, repair, Quarantine etc. Each of these activities can be logged electronically using a PDA (portable data assistant) to scan the barcode on the item and record its new location.
Of course in a warehouse system you need portable scanners and these can be quite expensive. A typical price for a portable PDA would be around £600 rising to over £1000 depending on features. If you need three pdas in a relatively small warehouse this is a major expense. An app sits on the PDA and the data is collected as described above . The data is then transferred in batch mode via a docking cradle connected to the PC or wirelessly if the wifi is robust in the warehouse. There is another solution: It is now possible to use your phone to connect to a cheap scanner using the bluetooth connection on the phone and an app to collect the data. Its not so practical maybe as having the all in one PDA solution but its a lots less expensive.
But what should you get from the system and what benefits does it offer? The first benefit of barcodes is that the data is accurate. There can be no transcription errors from paper to pc because the data feeds straight into the software. Secondly its a lot faster than manual system so the tedious jobs like stocktaking are done in a fraction of the time. Lastly it pays for itself in a very short space of time by enabling close control of the stockholding and cash flow.
There are many systems out there. Our own Windows based system has been optimised for all PDA platforms – android, IOS, windows, blackberry etc. Many PDAs are Windows only and others Android only so care need to be taken when selecting the hardware. Ideally find a reseller that has a complete solution otherwise there will be additional costs in programming the PDA.