Effective Shop Floor Using Barcode Technology 

Effective shopfloor and inventory management using barcoding technology

What is a Barcode

Barcode is the visual form of representing the data that is readable by the machine. These codes are represented usually with the help of parallel lines with space between them. The width and space are varied for different items and manufacturers and hence this is helping to identify particular manufacturers or goods.  

Types of Barcodes

Barcode has mainly two types:

1. Single barcode

They are in linear form and consist of parallel and vertical lines with spacing. An example of this could be the UPC. This type of barcode usually carries low information or limited data. 

2. Matrix barcode

They are existing in the form of two-dimension and usually exist in the form of a rectangle or square shape. This type of barcode carries more information and is hence more frequently used. An example of this barcode type is a QR code.  

How barcode works

Barcode reading is possible with the help of a scanner. The scanner shoots the lights on the barcode which is reflected based on black (lines) and white (spaces). With the help of reflected lights, binary codes are generated which are read by the barcode scanner. The light reflection intensity is different for lines and spaces and hence codes are generated accordingly.  

Information available on barcode 

Usually, the barcode has the following information: 

  1. Manufacturer name 
  2. Batch code  
  3. Serial number  
  4. Location  
  5. Manufacturing date  
  6. Expiry date  
  7. Resources 
  8. Other  

The other information that is contained in the barcode may include receiving data, expiry date, quality check or inspection done, etc. With the help of the above information, the inventory can easily be maintained and traced on the warehouse or shop floor. Since barcodes are also containing information about the location of the goods, this can be used to trace the goods at the warehouse.  

Barcode usage for Shop Floor Management

Barcode can be used for effective shop floor activity. This is helping the shop floor (Operation/Production) manager in the following areas.  

1. Work-in-progress Inventory

The barcode scanner helps to identify the number of units that are on the shop floor. With the help of this feature, the operation manager determines the flow of the goods into or out of the floor. This is also showing the progress of the production and operation of the goods. 

2. Quality Check

Since barcode also carries the information about the batch number, serial number, and operator, this is helping the operation or shop floor manager to have a good check on the quality. In case of any deviation or defect, the batch number and operator may be easily traced out and hence root cause for the problem may be identified. Based on the root cause, corrective action is taken for improving the quality. Ford is using the same feature where the engine parts are also carrying the information about suppliers, batch numbers, etc. In case of any defect, this can be used to find the root cause of the problem.  

3. Production Monitoring

Barcode scanning is used for production monitoring as well. At each stage, the product is scanned and the status is updated on the system. This is helping the shop floor manager to predict the lead time and possible time to complete the product. Accordingly, the supply of the products can be communicated.  

4. Customer Trust

As barcode scanning is improving the visibility of the processes, this is also ensuring customer trust. Information is readily available and can be shared with customers immediately which ensures the trust and satisfaction of the customers.  

5. Effective Shop Floor Management

The barcode scanning also helps the shop floor managers in shop floor management. With the help of barcode scanning, the right position for any item or goods can be traced. This can help the shop floor managers in the effective 5S implementation at the workplace as this will be suggesting the accurate location for any product or tools.  

Barcode usage in Inventory Control

1. Data Entry

Inventory control is always a challenging and time taking job for warehouse and shop floor managers. Updating entry is always a hectic job as this requires much data entry and may include the operator’s mistake. However, the barcode has facilitated inventory control on shop floors and warehouses. With the help of barcode information is scanned and stored automatically. This also updates the information and data accordingly.  

2. Traceability

Since barcode also carries the information of location, the traceability element of the inventory can be achieved. The barcode often carries the information of batch number which may help in case of any traceability in the future to sort out any problems. 

3. Accuracy and Operator Fatigue Reduction

The automatic updating of inventory has reduced operator fatigue and more accurate inventory level are updated. For large warehouses such as Amazon, manual data entry would be a difficult task. However, barcode has facilitated these companies, as well as they, have thousands of daily receiving and exit of the inventory.  

4. Cost Saving

Barcode reduces both ordering and holding costs of inventory. The barcode has made the data entry and inventory record paperless and all the information is shared in electronic form. This is reducing the documentation and stationary cost along with effective inventory control. Effective integration of barcode scanning with an ERP system may also facilitate the order placement and communication process. Operator efficiency has also increased which also reduces both ordering and holding costs of inventory.  

Challenges in Barcode Application at Shop Floor

Barcode application always require neat and clean environment. However, this is true that working areas often carries dust, moisture, mist etc. which all affect the accuracy and readability of the barcode. Therefore, this is recommended that the shopfloor is free of all these challenges.  

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