Monday, 30 November 2015

Warehouse Location and Rack Labelling - Tips and Best Practise

When companies undertake a WMS project, the initial focus is always on the software, its functionality and whether it's a good fit and delivers the benefits for the business, which is of course the right place to start. Second comes the selection of the equipment including label printers and hand-held scanning terminals. Often forgotten or definitely an afterthought is the labelling of the locations in the warehouse: Racks, Overheads, Floor, etc. In fact this should be given as much consideration as the selection of the equipment as the type of barcode scanner in the terminal will need to be capable of scanning the barcodes on the locations. Lets take a look at some of the important considerations:
 
Location Label Types

For Warehouse Racking you will need to consider "Shelf Edge" labels that contain a barcode and human readable that identify the location it is assigned to in the WMS system. Depending on the type of equipment you are using in the warehouse will determine whether you will need to label the high bay levels.
Shelf Edge Labelling on racking

For example, if you are using man-up trucks you will need ID labels on every level as they will need to be scanned by the worker at eye level. If you are using reach trucks then you will need a scan chart or index at the lower levels as the worker will not be at the same level as the goods or pallet. Note the use of arrows to indicate the level the ID refers to. The use of colour codes also helps identify the higher level bays (these will have a corresponding colour label attached).


Index and Shelf Edge Labelling on racking
Of course not all stock will be stored in nice neat racking, there could well be floor stacked areas which can be would need either overhead suspended location ID's or Floor Mounted plates.

Overhead Suspended
Rugged Barcode Floor Plates
The overhead plates can be suspended from wires or attached to overhead beams or trunking. These are very large barcodes so they can be seen and scanned from ground level and often need high performance barcode scanners such as the Datalogic PowerScan or Falcon x3+ with long range scanner. Floor Plates are sometimes popular, but can be expensive due the the need for very rugged construction and installation to cope with fork truck traffic.



Barcode Type, Size and Readability

Before you crack on and order all the locations ID's and get them fitted, take some time to test and verify that they can be read by the equipment you will be using in the warehouse. For example, don't expect to be able to read small barcodes from a distance just because you will use long range scanning devices. The scanning device and the barcode type and size need to be matched up for perfect scanning. Frustration soon sets in when operators have difficulties reading the barcodes.
Use the right scanner for the task.

As a general rule, the larger and the bigger the barcode the easier it is to scan. Also consider the distances you will need to scan from, e.g. from sitting in the fork truck, on foot, etc. The material used can also have a bearing on readability. Reflective material will provide better "scanability" and distance for example and is often used for Overhead Suspended barcodes.

Take all these points into account and you won't go far wrong, or simply ask us to advise.

We have a wealth of experience in implementing our specialist Dexterity WMS Systems to help clients realise the benefits of a smart Warehouse Management System. Get in touch for a no obligation and no pressure discussion on how Dexterity WMS could help your business.

Written by Jim Southern, specialist in warehouse management at Barcode-IT.  To ask questions about this article or find out how barcodes with a Dexterity Smart Warehouse can transform your business, call 01200 441977 or email Jim @ Barcode-IT today.  Or do some research at www.warehouse-it.co.uk



I Just want to Scan Barcodes in the Warehouse - It's simple, isnt it?

"All I want to do is scan barcodes in the warehouse to speed up the operation and make it more accurate"

Its a statement that we hear all the time from companies enquiring about our services. More companies are looking to use barcode scanning in the warehouse to get a more accurate view of inventory and reduce picking and delivery errors.

There is frequently a great enthusiasm for the subject until the analysis and investigation is done and it all becomes "more expensive than we thought".

The use of barcodes to speed up transaction processing has been around for decades, over 40 years would you believe. When did you last buy something at a store that wasn't simply scanned at the checkout? Actually, barcode scanning is now used in pretty much all transactional processes from your football tickets to renting a car or buying your lottery ticket.

It seems so easy, quick and efficient - rather than typing the details into a computer, we just scan the barcode label and the transaction becomes automated, right! So why can't I just buy a simple scanner for the warehouse and away I go? They are only cheap and I just scan the barcodes, collect the data and everything is updated automatically without error. It seems logical doesn't it? Lets take a deeper look at the realities and why its not that simple.


The barcode is simply a means of data input, its a quick alternative  to keying in the data. Simply scanning a barcode achieves nothing without a software system to verify that the barcode you are scanning is correct and represents the item you are supposed to be scanning for the transaction you are performing, be it a product code or location code for example. In the warehouse these transactions are not performed at a PC in an office so you also need a mobile scanning device. You need real time feedback to the operator to confirm or otherwise that the transaction has been accepted and verified, so you need a wireless network to make the system "live".

Traditional ERP systems are designed to operate on large PC screens not smaller handheld devices and generally won't handle inputs from scanners. These ERP applications are written in a way to accept inputs in a way that builds from the previous entry by the operator requiring multiple keyboard actions like TAB, ENTER, etc. Simply scanning a barcode doesn't duplicate the human intervention required to process the transaction. This is why you need specific warehouse management software like Dexterity WMS that works with the scanning technology to interpret and process the transaction in real time.

ERP software is designed for keyed in human input whereas a smart warehouse system like Dexterity WMS is all about the automation of the warehouse processes using smart technology and software to streamline every aspect of warehouse operations from Goods In to Pick, Pack & Ship.

What if the barcode contains more than one item of information?
Not all barcodes are as simple as you may first imagine. You will have multiple suppliers and more than likely they will provide different barcodes on their products. Some may embed more than a single item of data in a single barcode. This can be quite common where lots, batches and serial numbers are involved. Scanning and processing of these "complex" barcodes requires software that can interpret the barcode data and then intelligently verify and update the correct fields in the system. What would happen if you scanned a barcode that contained the product number, the lot number and an expiration date into the Item Number field on an ERP data entry screen - it wouldn't work and in this example, the use of barcode scanning without a proper software solution is counter-productive.

"I can’t see the benefit of spending money on a system for the warehouse" 

Another well worn statement we hear all the time, but there are always different parts of your business competing for the limited budget available for investment. Unfortunately when people think of the warehouse they think of spending money there as a “cost”



Turn that thinking from a “cost” to an “investment” and look at the benefits that are created:
  • Barcode Scanning at the point of receiving increases inventory accuracy by 35%.
  • Barcode Scanning is 10 times faster than manual data entry.
  • Order Picking using bar code scanning and a smart WMS system virtually eliminates picking errors.
  • Introducing barcode scanning and location tracking into your warehouse can increase operational efficiency by up to 25 percent.
These are very real figures and significant returns on an “investment” in a WMS system using wireless barcode scanning in the warehouse. We have a wealth of experience in implementing Warehouse Management Systems to help clients realise the benefits of a smart WMS.

Written by Jim Southern, specialist in warehouse management at Barcode-IT.  To ask questions about this article or find out how barcodes with a Dexterity Smart Warehouse can transform your business, call 01200 441977 or email Jim @ Barcode-IT today.  Or do some research at www.warehouse-it.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

2D or not 2D - the Two Dimensional barcode revolution

Two Dimensional Barcodes have never been easier or cheaper to read with more and more barcode readers including a 2D reading option.  Even many Smart Phones will read 2D codes.  But the real revolution is taking place in product identification, manufacturing and logistics, where 2D barcodes like QR and Datamatrix
Manufacturers are using 2D codes to individually identify products to prevent counterfeiting, with the code acting like a serial number.  But these are not products that would normally have a serial number, instead the 2D code carries information about when and where the item was made, what its distribution area is and if the individual code has been properly registered.

Companies like CODIKETT® are offering clients a security service where 2D barcodes are embedded into the product and its packaging, with every code being unique and fully traceable, so that throughout the supply chain the items can be tracked, plus the customer can check the products authenticity and ensure its being sold in the geographical area it was intended for.  See out earlier BLOG on Tangle Teezer for more details.

2D barcodes are also used within logistics and can contain the full routing information as well as the final destination address.  This allows a parcel carrier to read the 2D code anywhere along the route and without having to refer back to a central database, the full routing can be read.  This is important if the consignment has become "orphaned" from rest of the shipment, so that its full delivery routing can be read and the parcel can rapidly rejoin the correct shipment.  Common 2D codes used in shipping include Maxicode, PDF 417 and Aztec.However its the ability to be able to read these 2D codes that is driving their use.  Gone are the days when a 2D scanner was so expensive it could not be deployed in the workplace.
Datalogic Gryphon GD4400 and PowerScan 9500 - Scan any 2D or 1D barcodes
Today manufacturers of barcode readers like Datalogic are bringing 2D reading to almost all barcode scanners and are building advanced readers that will read 1D and 2D barcodes and even scan damaged or partially covered codes, such as when they are covered with shrink-wrap.  These readers are using advanced imaging techniques to read the codes, rather than older laser scanners.  Laser still has its place, but for reading barcodes in any orientation, any symbology, near and far reading, Area Imagers such as the Datalogic PowerScan 9500 and Gryphon GD4400 are leading the way.  Particularly as the 1D barcode reading is even better than older laser readers and if 2D comes along later, the technology is already in place.

For more information on how 2D barcodes could enhance your business, call Nigel Holloway or the sales team at Barcode-IT for more information.  01200 441977  www.barcode-it.co.uk

Written by David Parkinson - partner at Dash Computer Products, who specialises in barcode driven WMS, hand held and fork truck mounted computers and data capture solutions.
contact David on 01200 441977 or email here:  Sales@Dash Computer



Monday, 23 November 2015

PowerScan by Datalogic. Rugged barcode scanners for Any Industry - Any Environment - Any Barcode

In business, barcodes are used everywhere; in manufacturing, the warehouse and logistics operations. They have become an essential tool of industry, so your barcode scanner had better perform. First time! Every time!

Meet the PowerScan from Datalogic

This truly industrial barcode scanner will meet every challenge in every industry where barcode scanning is needed.

  • Small barcode close to the user
  • Larger barcodes far away
  • Reads QR and all 2D barcodes
  • Reads damaged barcodes
  • Reads barcodes in any direction

In the rain, in the heat, in the cold, in the freezer, PowerScans keep on working.

Watch the video below to see how the PowerScan from Datalogic is helping other businesses scan problem barcodes.


Does your business need a barcode scanner that never stops?
Call the team at Barcode-IT now to start reaping the benefits of superior scanning
01200 441977

Written by David Parkinson - partner at Dash Computer Products, who specialises in barcode driven WMS, hand held and fork truck mounted computers and data capture solutions.contact David on 01200 441977 or email here:  Sales@Dash Computer