Technology has the ability to make many different aspects of life much easier, and it can help to improve accuracy and efficiency. A good example of this is the increased use of barcode scanners by those who are working in shipping and warehousing. Barcode scanning equipment is often used when shipping goods, receiving goods, loading, taking in returns, and more. With the evolution of smart phone, physical barcode scanners are not the only option for Supply chain professionals. In this blog, I would like to present you mobile app based scanning options.
While the barcode scanners have proven to be helpful, that is not to say that they are perfect. They tend to be large and bulky, and they are not easy to carry around. One of the other drawbacks is that it is not possible to edit directly on many of these types of devices. In order to make modifications to the data and to submit the data, the employees will have to go elsewhere in the facility. The goal of the scanners is to make things more efficient, but with many of the barcode scanners available today, they are still lacking.
Fortunately, mobile technology can come through again to help. By using mobile applications, for low frequency use cases, it can help to solve a range of problems that the scanners themselves can’t. It can also help make it easier for the employees to take care of more tasks faster and to do it all in real-time.
The phones are lightweight when compared to scanners, and most employees will have a smartphone or at least know how to use one. These mobile barcode apps for Android and iPhones are also capable of displaying information that is not possible with a regular barcode scanner. For example, it is possible to display information such as transfers, bin, lot number, and restocking information, updates, and more. Ultimately, the employees will be able to do more with the mobile app than they would be able to do with a scanner, making their jobs more efficient.
Another scanning option is through APIs such as Scandit for high volume or industrial scanning usecases. Propel Apps have tested ScandIt API in our Mobile Inventory app for Oracle EBS and Oracle SCM Cloud. The results were stunning. We were to scan almost 40 barcodes in just a second. APIs such as Scandit works by connecting with your smart device camera and mobile app. These APIs are licensed and can scan directly into your mobile app. These apps allow users to work in online & offline mode, with data being synced automatically when connected to the internet, and the Total cost of ownership of these mobile warehouse solutions is low.
Benefits from a barcode scanning mobile app are –
Real-time inventory status –
Barcode scanning apps instantly upload the data to the primary system and ensure that employees have real-time information related to inventory and shipping. This information can help employees eliminate selling items that are not actually in stock.
Easy to carry –
Another one of the main benefits is that by having the app on a phone, it reduces the amount of bulk that the employee has to carry with them. People are accustomed to carrying their phone with them, and it can slip easily into the pocket. They are lightweight and convenient option, and most people will find it easy to get up to speed on using an app on their phone.
Supports QR Codes & Barcodes
Barcode scanning apps instantly upload the data to the primary system and ensure that employees have real-time information related to inventory and shipping.
Material handlers can use Barcode scanning apps to view real-time information related to a particular order and perform transactions such as receiving, issue or transfer.
Ability to perform tasks offline –
Most of the times, warehouse personnel do not have access to the internet to complete transactions. This is frustrating for users as they have to perform a multitude of transactions successively. Barcode scanning apps provide the user to perform transactions offline and offers the ability to upload the information to the server when connected to the internet.
Cost Savings –
No huge investments in Hardware as Smartphones are available with most of the employees. Also, companies can avoid over-spending and project future material requirements.
Automate Data Entry & Avoid Human Errors –
Barcode scanning apps allow users to capture material information and ensure faster processing times.
Barcode Scanning App Use Cases in the Inventory Department
- Procure to Pay – purchase order, goods receipt purchase order
- Manual and Automatic Replenishment – stock transfers and stock requests
- Production – issue to production and receipt from production
- Inventory – stock cycle counting and lookups
- Time Tracking – Companies can keep track of hours a material/ component is used, and forecast future equipment acquisition requirements.
Things to consider before choosing a mobile barcode scanning solution
VDC research shows that the failure rate of non-rugged devices is five times greater than that of rugged devices. Rugged devices are built to withstand harsh environments in warehouses and distribution centers and have a longer life cycle compared to consumer devices. The research also reveals that a device failure costs an average of 30-40 minutes of worker downtime. So, it is necessary that enterprises choose ruggedized devices to meet their needs and provide greater flexibility.
Seamless integration between Hardware & Software
Sometimes the best hardware is useless if it cannot run the required applications. In the same way, the best mobile apps do not run the hardware you have. So, ensure that there is a seamless integration among hardware devices, mobile applications, and your ERP.
Occasionally, Workers have to perform duties in low light conditions, scan damaged codes or scan blurred codes. Enterprises planning to implement barcode scanning solutions shall select a solution that meets these scenarios.
In a high throughput scanning environment, low latencies in scanning are essential to perform succeeding tasks in time and provide an efficient user experience for workers. Some factors influencing the decoding speed are device CPU, camera initialization speed and app decoding approach. Test the mobile solution in various scanning environments before finalizing the purchase.