Operations Q&A: Is Bar Coding the Holy Grail? - Modern Distribution Management

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Operations Q&A: Is Bar Coding the Holy Grail?

For the right purpose and in the appropriate environment, bar coding can provide benefits.

Editor’s Note: Lee Schwartz is principal at the Schwartz Profitability Group. He will be blogging occasionally for MDM on the topic of distribution operations. His blog will be presented in a Q&A format. If you have questions regarding operations for Schwartz, please email him at lee@schwartzpro.com. Learn more about Schwartz at the bottom of this blog.

Question: Is bar coding the Holy Grail?

Answer: Bar coding seems to have a certain cachet about it, particularly to those who have had limited experience with the process. For the right purpose and in the appropriate environment, bar coding can provide these extraordinary benefits to warehouse operations and performance:

  • Improved operational efficiencies
  • Reduced errors
  • Decreased costs
  • Time savings
  • Information reliability

But like a baby, you’ve got to crawl before walking. There are a number of questions to answer before plunging into the world of bar coding.

  • What are the compelling strategic reasons for employing this technology?
  • Will bar coding lead to improved operational efficiencies?
  • Are customers demanding its use?
  • Will costs decline and productivity soar?
  • Is this a want rather than a need?

Bottom Line:Bar coding is right for some, but not for others. Carefully evaluate:

  • Can current software and technology support bar coding efforts?
  • What impact will bar coding have on existing procedures? Can changes be successfully integrated?
  • Is current staff capable of adapting to the new ways?
  • Is the investment affordable? Prepare a budget.

The Internet is full of information about bar coding and its implementation. Consult professionals who are experienced in this discipline. Talk to associates in your industry and at your trade association events. Have them share their experiences. Crawl before you walk, and take each step only after deliberate planning.

Lee Schwartz, former CEO and president of distribution and manufacturing companies, is principal of the Schwartz Profitability Group (SPG) that, for almost 13 years, has uncorked the operational bottlenecks of distribution and manufacturing companies, boosting their bottom line results. His consulting and operational turnaround work helps clients find solutions related to process improvement, supply chain management, inventory control, workflow design, and operational performance.

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