Webcast: Bar code technology for better warehouse management

In part two of a three-part series on automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technology, industry expert Dylan Persaud explains how bar code technology fits into -- and improves -- manufacturing warehouse management practices. Viewers will learn how bar codes work and how they can promote efficiency throughout the organization.

SearchManufacturingERP: Hello, and welcome to the SearchManufacturingERP.com webcast. I'm Brenda Cole, site editor. In part two of our three-part series on AIDC [automatic identification and data capture] technologies, we're discussing how bar codes can optimize warehouse management. Our expert speaker today is Dylan Persaud, managing director at Eval-source. Welcome, Dylan.

Dylan Persaud: Thank you, Brenda. Today's media stream will be how bar codes can optimize warehouse management systems. On today's agenda for this media stream, we will include the uses of barcodes within [a warehouse management] system, differentiation between types of barcodes used in logistics and warehouse management systems, how our ID and bar codes are related, the types of bar codes used within industries and their uses, and two examples of how bar codes are used within the warehouse for item tracking and location tracking.

So, this slide basically discusses the uses of bar codes within a warehouse management system. So, several uses of bar codes within a warehouse system include cycle counts, inventory tracking, shipping and receiving automation, order reconciliation, and location tracking. Bar codes can easily recall, [inaudible], and bad items by geographic region, individual stores. So, this slide basically discusses the use of bar codes in warehouse management systems. Bar codes serve many uses in logistics and warehouse management systems today. Common uses are cycle count, inventory tracking, shipping and receiving automation, order reconciliation, location tracking; and some serve as reverse-logistics-processes enhancement tools. Bar codes can quickly recall bad items, such as [by] geographic region, by store, by order number, lot number, and finally individual product, should a recall be needed.

This slide [shows] the relationship of bar codes to RFID. [It] basically discusses how these two technologies are related, as they are used in conjunction. They may either exist individually or in conjunction, and most companies use one or the other, and some actually use both and piggyback the technologies of both and benefits of both. Larger companies use both technologies, which increases efficiency and provides greater supply chain capability.

The drawback, however, is the cost to implement both technologies together, as they are often two different systems. [Inaudible] data can easily be created here if the organization does not have the standard skills or business processes in place to support the data created, and the data created by both systems. A usual deficiency for organizations is not having the proper capabilities to identify what data actually means and how it impacts their business. More mature organizations that realize how to use this data often realize more efficiency and can usually lower inventory-carrying cost. Each technology has its own merit under use for different purposes. Since the media stream focuses on bar codes, we will discuss the aspects of how bar codes are used within the [warehouse management system].

The next two slides identify the differences between the types of bar codes and their usages. Within each industry, each has its own type [of] bar code used and for a different function. Items such as the UCC 128, a very common label type, used for product identification and carton identification. It's usually used with a B-to-B rather than a B-to-C.

A more consumer-based type of bar code, which everyone is more familiar with, is the common UPC A used here in America, or the UPC E, which is a six-digit code used in Europe. It's often more at the retail level rather than a B-to B-application. An example of this within the receiving function within a warehouse management system] is a bar code may often be used for a sales order or a purchase order, and is often a code 39 or a [code] 93, depending on the industry. Multiple codes are used in conjunction, such as a code 39, or order number, or UCC 128 for the case, or universal carton code.

OK. This slide is basically the types of bar code. So, on the left-hand side you're looking at a code 128, code 39, code 93, a data matrix, a PDF 417 and the UPC A, as mentioned before. So, this slide illustrates basically the different types of bar codes. Code 128 is usually used with an alphanumeric, or rather a straight numeric. Whereas code 39 can be an alphanumeric, code 93 can be alphanumeric, data matrix is alphanumeric, PDF 417 alphanumeric, and UPC A, a numeric code. These will basically have different uses.

So, in terms of a UPC A, which is more commonly used in a retail application. Data matrix and PDF 417 are actually two D bar codes and are often used for items such as FedEx or UPS, which actually created -- UPS actually created the PDF 417 bar code. On the right-hand side, the Grand Supplier Coffee. Where you see the large bar code in the middle is an actual UCC 128. This is used as either a carton identification label or actually, carton identification within an order.

Now, this slide illustrates a common warehouse location label. This label represents the aisle, the bay, the levels [on] which the product is located, and on the right-hand side, the twenty represents, rather the checked digit P5 represents, the section of the warehouse. The tag represents the location and usually a bin number. Further bin numbers are encoded by other bar codes and are linked to the warehouse management system. A typical workflow is, an order is released, the picker is dispatched to fulfill the order, then the picker locates the correct section of the warehouse. He then scans the bin, then scans the product, so the product can be deducted from the system, and the bin, and then matched to the order.

The quantities removed from that bin are then updated into the warehouse management system. This label here refers to the location-tracking portion of the workflow. UPCs are removed from the bin and updated, and are linked to the warehouse management system; and in some cases when shorts are detected, that can also be detected and edited on the order as well. Quantities are then updated back to the warehouse management under available usually in real-time information. Older systems often use a batch update and have become more rare due to technology advances, lower hardware and software costs. Scan of the bar code refers to the item level and accounts for [the] inventory tracking component of the workflow. Conversely, when an item is scanned, the UPC can usually provide the location which specifies the quantity available within the warehouse. The more advanced systems can even identify the number of items that are on order, in transit or already allocated to orders. By combining these two processes, it validates the product location, the order and the quantity to be fulfilled. Those are two workflows that bar codes are used in and the primary trigger to help automate and provide accuracy to primary picking orders.

Thank you for attending the media stream of barcode technology in warehouse management systems. Covered today were [the] uses of bar codes within the [warehouse management system], how RFID is related to bar codes, and the types of barcodes used on examples of workflows using barcodes for item tracking and location tracking. We look forward to answering any questions you may have based on bar-coding and system questions.

SearchManufacturingERP: Thank you, Dylan, and thank you all for joining us today. For more on bar codes, please visit SearchManufacturingERP.com.

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