Barcode Scanning in Warehouses: Uses and How to Implement It

Nick Mirev
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    Barcodes have truly changed the field of warehouse inventory management. Thanks to them, businesses can easily scale their sales without worrying about inventory loss and human error. Barcode scanning in warehouses requires implementing a reliable inventory management system that connects the data transmitted by barcode scanners with the business’s database. In this blog post, we’ll share some warehouse management tips related to introducing barcode scanning in a warehouse. We’ll also briefly check some warehouse inventory alternatives to barcodes.

    Implement Barcode Scanning in a Warehouse

    Although changing the processes in your business can be challenging, companies should embrace the idea of change to adapt to innovations and technological advancements. Here’s how business owners can implement barcode scanning in warehouses in a few easy steps.

    Step 1: Create a Plan

    Start by assessing the current needs of your business. Keep in mind that for some businesses it can be more beneficial to outsource warehousing to a third-party logistics provider. If you’re certain that you need your own warehousing, start by researching the alternatives in warehouse scanning equipment and management. A main priority for most businesses is to connect their warehousing software with current solutions they use like an ERP. Make sure to research that and include the process in your roadmap.

    Step 2: Implement and Configure the Warehouse Management System

    When choosing a WMS, customer service is an important factor to consider. The implementation of this solution can be a lengthy process and you need a reliable provider to guide you through it. The WMS needs to be configured according to your business requirements. It should also be connected with other customer relations and business operations software.

    Step 3: Choose a Type of Barcode and Design Labels

    There are many different types of barcodes. You should choose a type based on your business processes and requirements. For example, if you’re looking for a simple solution, a standard UPC barcode can be the right choice. However, if you need to store a lot of product data, you might opt for 2D barcodes with high data storage capacity.

    Step 4: Establish Processes and Improve Them

    When it comes to barcode scanning in warehouses, having good guidelines and processes is paramount. Implementing barcode scanning in a warehouse can also lead to other changes in the business. For example, management staff will be able to work with improved data and improve fields like raw material par levels, stock levels, and high-demand products with the highest ROI.

    Key takeaway: Barcode scanning in warehouses is a process that has multiple benefits for businesses. Nowadays, there are other alternatives to barcodes such as RFID or NFC technologies. Some companies prefer to outsource warehousing. 
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    Benefits of Barcode Scanning in Warehouse

    Thanks to advancements in warehousing practices and technology, businesses can maximize revenue by implementing reliable inventory management solutions. Let’s see some of the benefits of integrating barcode scanning in a warehouse.

    1. Efficiency. Through barcode or RFID technology, businesses can improve efficiency and automate various manual warehouse inventory processes.
    2. Accuracy. Minimizing the risk of human error and having better data accuracy is crucial for businesses in competitive markets.
    3. Better inventory management and decision-making. A major benefit of implementing barcode scanning in a warehouse is that managers can conveniently track inventory levels and create custom reports. That can help them easily calculate the cost of goods sold or other key performance indicators. 
    4. Reduced warehousing costs. Implementing barcode scanning in a warehouse is among the first steps of automation. It can significantly reduce labor costs for businesses. Furthermore, modern solutions like RFID can also be combined with AI tools and drones. This investment is suitable for very large enterprises but it can lead to a fully automated scanning and order handling process.
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    RFID VS Barcode Scanning in Warehouse

    Difference Between RFID Tags and Barcodes

    The main difference between the two technologies is that barcode scanners need a direct line of sight to scan the barcode via a laser or an image scanner. On the other hand, RFID scanners use radio frequency. It can collect data from tags placed on inventory items even if there’s no direct line of sight to them. Furthermore, the RFID technology enables processing a much higher number of items simultaneously.

    Advantages of Barcode VS RFID

    The main pro of barcode scanning in warehouses is that implementation is much cheaper and easier. Furthermore, barcodes are far more popular and there are various solutions in the field like smartphone barcode scanner apps for inventory.

    Advantages of RFID VS Barcode

    Businesses that process high volumes of goods simultaneously should seriously consider investing in RFID technology. Although it’s around ten times more expensive than barcode scanning in warehouses, it can greatly increase efficiency.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Barcode Scanning in Warehouse

    Since the emergence of the first warehouses, the field has changed substantially. That’s why even seasoned specialists in the field might be left out of the loop and have questions regarding barcode scanning in warehouses. The BlueCart team has gathered some of the commonly asked questions and answered them in the lines below.

    How Do Barcode Scanners Work?

    The basic principle of barcode scanning is that the device reads the code and transmits it to the warehouse management system. It’s then added to the database. There are many types of barcode scanners including handheld, fixed, and mounted. Almost all scanners use laser or imager.

    • Laser scanners use a beam of light and mirrors to read the reflected light from the barcode.
    • Image scanners use a camera to capture the code and transmit it to OCR software which translates the image.
    • CCD scanners come at a lower cost compared to laser and image counterparts. Charge-coupled device scanners use a combination of LED lights and sensors to convert the image into pixels.

    What Are the Different Types of Barcodes?

    There are more than a dozen different types of barcodes, but two common categories of barcodes include one-dimensional and two-dimensional barcodes. Barcodes have different applications, pros, and cons. 

    1. One-dimensional barcodes. 1D barcodes can save businesses a lot of time and improve the workflow. UPC barcodes are the most common variety in the US retail industry. Code 128 barcodes are popular in logistics. They can store a lot of data which makes them suitable for supply chain management, shipping, and handling. Code 93 barcodes are another popular type that has increased security.
    2. Two-dimensional barcodes. 2D barcodes can be found on identification cards or electronics. They are slowly but surely replacing 1D barcodes. The main benefit of two-dimensional barcodes is that they have a good fault tolerance. Quick-response (QR) codes are the most popular variety. They can store a lot more data compared to their one-dimensional counterparts. Data matrix codes are another popular type used in logistics and documents.

    What Are the Alternatives to Barcodes?

    The two main alternatives to barcodes are radio frequency identification technology and quick-response codes. With the rise of e-commerce trade and smart warehousing, changes in the field of warehouse scanning are necessary. This is why companies are switching from barcode warehouse scanning systems to other alternatives. 

    Radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, uses radio frequency and doesn’t require a direct line of sight to scan goods. This provides companies with a lot of flexibility and saves a lot of time. 

    RFID technology can also be combined with automation solutions such as AGVs and AMRs. The downside of RFID technology is that it’s significantly more expensive compared to barcodes or QR codes.

    Quick-response codes have become a popular alternative to barcodes as well. They are used in warehousing and other areas of life as they can store much more information compared to barcodes. NFC and Bluetooth can also be good alternatives to barcodes.

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