Over the years, barcode technology has gained widespread popularity and acceptance that many consumers tend to take its use for granted, but not to be fazed, this technology does continue to offer numerous benefits and advantages to a wide array of businesses. From fixed asset physical inventories to perishable goods in supermarket stores, barcoding has become the norm rather than the exception. With only some basic printing equipment and a functional barcode scanner, organizations are able to capture and reconcile large amounts of data fast, accurately and cost effectively.
In order for such companies to take full advantage of the technological superiority provided to them by this viable option, they must painstakingly plan for its successful implementation. Once it has been successfully implemented and rolled out, many companies report measurable business gains. Even though Barcodes are generally known to save time and cut costs by reducing overheads, there are several other benefits which are rarely discussed or highlighted. These advantages are quite significant and include but are not limited to the following;
Garbage in – Garbage out (GIGO)
The GIGO theory has been well documented and discussed in great detail at various forums. In the business arena, the information a business entity collates and uses in decision making is only as good as its source. If the data entered into the system (Garbage in) is inaccurate or unreliable, the data exiting the system (Garbage out) also has to be inaccurate. Because the use of barcoding ensures that the information of data entered into the system is accurate it thus follows that the data or information retrieved is also accurate.
For many companies, and rightfully so, information is usually the most valuable asset and for this reason it is important for them to have the most reliable and affordable data management system available for use. The truth of the matter though is that even the most advanced database in particular or computer system in general is only as good as the data it is fed or provided with.
In the current organizational set up, wrong information in the operations or supply chain can create unacceptable risks, lead to higher operating costs and accelerate loss of business. A good and properly implemented barcode system does protect an organization by ensuring data availability and accuracy. Because data is obtained rapidly and accurately, the management is able to make more informed business decisions. Better decision making does ultimately save both money and time for any business.
In the days prior to the emergence of barcode technology, many businesses did rely on clerks to manually enter details about stock levels, packages and piles of papers which came across their desks. In such instances, the likelihood of incidences of human error did increase considerably. Because barcodes can easily read and translate encoded information, the chance of making a mistake has reduced considerably overtime as people embrace the technology and improvements are made on it.
Research studies have shown that for every one thousand (1000) characters typed by an average keyboard operator; there is an average of ten (10) keying errors. On the other hand, for an OCR (optical character reader) there is one error for every 10,000 reads. When using wands, barcode systems report an average of one (1) error for every three million (3,000,000) characters and with Laser technology, there is one (1) error for every seventy million (70,000,000) entries.
It should be noted that these accuracy levels exhibited by the different barcoding technologies are independent of the type of business the technology may be deployed in and is therefore similar in virtually all business implementations across the board.
Efficiency is generally defined as the ability to accomplish a task in the best possible manner with the least waste of effort and time. To be efficient, an organization must first possess the requisite knowledge or technology and then use it as is required. Towards this end, barcode systems have been known to not only create value for an organization by saving time, but also enhance efficiency by preventing any costly errors.
In manual systems, clerks would have to spend inordinately long periods of time reading ID information, examining packages and correcting wrong inputs so as to maintain data entry errors at a minimum. Barcodes significantly speed up the process of doing tasks such as registering packages and adding up sold items as there is no need of reading and keying in identification numbers; all one does is to point a scanner at the barcode. Employees can therefore do more work, at a faster rate and with very high accuracy levels. This makes both the organization and the employee more efficient.
The efficiency of barcoding can also be exemplified by the ease with which many employees are able to learn and use the system. When compared against other systems, barcoding requires very little training time. Employees can master the usage of a hand held scanner in a matter of minutes and they are also not required to be wholly or fully familiar with inventory or pricing procedures of the organization so as to be efficient.
Point and Click Data Entry
With barcoding, all that’s required is to point the barcode to a scanner and click. This point and click data entry approach has not only improved productivity but has also helped many organizations to seal leakages in their systems. Many organizations are now able to control their inventory and reduce instances or pilferage.
As a matter of fact, a barcode label of twelve (12) characters can easily be wanded in approximately the same time it takes someone using a keyboard to make only two strokes. The implication of this is that the staff members who use to do manual data entry can be redeployed, retrenched or made to perform more duties within the same period of time. The organization can therefore be leaner and minimize costs.
With barcoding, productivity is improved because the amount of time used for data entry is greatly reduced. This has the effect of freeing company resources which can then be utilized in other areas where their services may be required or used more profitably.
Because these barcodes are extremely versatile, they can be used to collect data for a variety of purposes and uses. They can be used to collect data for either inventory or pricing purposes with a lot of ease and because barcodes can be attached to almost any surface; it is possible to use them to not only track the product, but also track the outgoing shipment or equipment.