Barcode technology in manufacturing
SageData is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Barcodes can be used to identify inventory, identify individual items as they move through a process, or identify specific batches. They can identify individual operators, so that a record is kept of who did what. This information can be used to identify and eliminate bottlenecks, eliminate delays due to out of stock situations, and improve quality.
Perhaps the simplest application. With handheld computers and barcoded labels for SKU and location identification, inventory checks can be completed easily, quickly and accurately. The same tools are used for put-away and picking, to maintain a moving inventory count. An MSL (minimum stock level) feature in the software helps ensure that stock is replenished in a timely fashion, avoiding disruption associated with shortage of raw materials.
Managing WIP (Work in Process)
By attaching a tag with a UIC (Unique Identification Code) to each item or each batch, progress through the manufacturing process can be recorded and subsequently analyzed. When items have to be prioritized, they can be easily located. Tracking the arrival at each workstation can be achieved with fixed or tethered readers, and for items moving slowly, a single handheld computer can be used to track daily progress
In many processes there is a step which must be tracked and recorded. Perhaps a calibration, a sealing process, an inspection, or confirmation that a specific test has been conducted. The use of barcode technology facilitates the collection and management of certification
In some industries, particularly food or aerospace, there is a requirement for traceability. Bar code technology enables materials to be tracked from receipt to shipping. In one recent case we tracked every component for an aeronautical application from receipt to shipment. In a system with several thousand components, the date of receipt and lot number of every item could readily be identified.
Barcode technology enables large amounts of data to be collected without adding to the overhead of manufacturing tasks. Immediate benefits include the reduction of paperwork, and the timely dissemination of information related to manufacturing. Although there are considerable savings in reduced time required for routine operations, the biggest benefit is the reduction of time wasted dealing with unplanned disruption due to misplaced WIP or shortage of raw materials.