Barcode Solution: Boring, Basic, But Brilliant?

Every week, these issues come up with companies we meet who are looking to implement a barcode solution for the first time.

1. Your people keep picking the wrong things.

Your warehouse operation is getting faster and pressure is on to get things out the door on time. When people are rushed they make more mistakes and picking the wrong things is a common one to make.

To the human eye two things that are not the same can appear so. In some warehouses it can be a case of trying to distinguish between different 9 digit product codes for a whole 8 hour shift. This invariably leads to mistakes.

With a barcode solution, aim for 99.99% inventory accuracy.

• A figure to benchmark against is one mis-pick (picking the wrong item) in every 10,000 where the barcode solution can improve picking accuracy to this 99.99% or more.

• By removing the margin for human error, mis-picks can be almost completely eliminated. When picking from an electronic pick list using a mobile barcode scanner the user will be alerted if they try to pick the wrong thing.

• Quality checks can be reduced in frequency and resource reallocated.

2. The receipt and reconciliation of deliveries is too slow.

Until products have been received and reconciled against their purchase orders or accepted as a blind receipt (did not expect the delivery as you did not raise a purchase order for the items) they can not make you any money as they are not available to sell. One e-commerce business that I visited recently was shipping 300-500 orders per day, but taking up to two days to fully process and reconcile new deliveries. Result: lost sales.

With a barcode solution, you can speed up receipt (goods in) and reconciliation of deliveries.

• Automating the receipt and reconciliation with a barcode solution speeds up the whole process by removing manual data entry and process duplication.

• Getting new deliveries showing as available to purchase more quickly avoids missed sales opportunities due to stock-outs.

3. Stock taking, compliance and auditor inspections are costing you hours of labour.

At some point, every warehouse needs to be able to say exactly what stock they have got where and give an accurate report.

For one company, Intercontinental Brands, that we recently put in a warehouse management system for, compliance with bonded warehouse requirements meant being able to show exactly what stock is where and being able to find them quickly on request. For other companies it can for the inventory planning or end of year financials.

With a barcode solution, you can speed up stock taking and ensure compliance

• It gives you reporting on exactly what inventory you have where at any time, in real-time (live) available at the click of a button.

• InterContinental Brands were spending hours every day ensuring that the paper records were kept in order for when inspections take place. A barcode solution can remove this process as the inventory date is ‘live’ and reliable.

• The reduction in stock take time can be the single biggest win for warehouses putting in a barcode solution, one example being Island Steel who reduced the time that theirs took by 70%. The manual data-entry and administration time and costs can be completely removed.

In conclusion, a simple barcode solution can tackle some of the core issues as listed above. After overcoming these, you can then chip away at other inefficiencies by adding functionality to your barcode solution.