Improving warehouse organization with new barcode scanners, databases

Posted by Justin Hesser on February 29, 2012

Traditionally, suppliers and distribution centers have used laser scanners to manage inventory and cargo. When labels are damaged or compromised, however, lasers aren't particularly efficient or accurate. Recently, there's been a wave of new scanners that not only process codes faster and more precisely, they're also widely available. As a matter of fact, you may have one in your pocket right now.

Imaging is a type of scanning that takes a picture of a barcode, translates the information into a digital form and decodes it into readable data. Perhaps the most common relative to imagers are smartphones and tablets that feature a barcode scanning application and a camera.

"Imagers are better able to adjust to the harsh conditions often found in the warehouse and manufacturing environment. Bad lighting, damaged labels, incorrect label types, faint or faded labels, each offer a degree of complexity when it comes to decoding the label," Kevin McArdle, an applications engineer at barcode and wireless solutions provider Supply Chain Services, told Supply Chain Digest.

When a label is damaged, laser scanners read and re-read the barcode until it can get an accurate reading – and sometimes it never does, McArdle explained to the source. On the other hand, imagers take one picture of the barcode and apply a series of algorithms to the image to decipher it. According to McArdle, this is much faster and more efficient than laser scanners.

Using the wireless connectivity of iPhones, iPads and iPod touches in addition to access to a primary database, employees equipped with a mobile device can scan and quickly record warehouse information with custom database software.

If your warehouse still uses laser scanners and you are interested in implementing a imager scanning system with mobile devices and database software, a FileMaker developer can build a custom application that works for your business's specific operational needs.