In these modern times, barcodes are being used in a wide variety of ways, in a wide array of industries, and especially in product manufacturing – from the beginning of the production line all the way through until the item is sold to the end customer. Barcodes are vital to the way production lines operate. They are important tools that can be used to monitor and control the entire manufacturing process and ensure that it runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. How are barcodes used to control this manufacturing process? What are the benefits of using codes in the production process? Which specific type of codes are used?
How are they used in manufacturing?
Barcodes are used at every step of the manufacturing process. It is not uncommon that each component that makes up the final product will be given a barcode so that at every stage of the production line, the code can be scanned and registered on the computer system. Such systems store vital information about the production line. At each step on the production line, a certain task is carried out and a certain part of the whole product is added, and a barcode is scanned either before or after, or both. The computer system will be able to determine the total number of products that have been assembled, the total components used in the process, as well as the location of each component in the production line.
Once the product has been fully assembled, the next step in the manufacturing process is distribution. The products need to get from the warehouse to the retailers and stores where they will then be sold on to the end consumer. At this part of the manufacturing process, there is a high risk of things going missing, being misplaced, or being sent to the wrong warehouse. Barcodes ensure that the right product goes to the right distribution centre. The computer system will allocate a specific code to each delivery truck, and as the product is transported along the distribution channels, the barcode is scanned and recorded in the computer system, thereby tracking the product as it makes its way to its final destination. Such precise tracking has all but eliminated errors and thefts in the distribution process.
The final destination of the products (before being sold) is usually the retailer’s inventory, where it will be scanned into their system using either the individual product code (UPC-A or EAN-13 barcode standards) or the box or case code attached to the bulk order (ITF-14 barcode standard). Here, the retailer will pack the individual products onto their shelves to sell to the end consumer.
Benefits of barcodes in manufacturing
The most important aspect of barcodes in manufacturing is that they allow you to track every step of the process, and every component that ultimately becomes the final product. Barcode systems are able to record the exact time and date components are used and assembled and keep track of exactly where each component and product is along the production line. This brings about both efficiency (having the product information available at your fingertips) as well as security (being able to know exactly where each component is and identify any missing/broken components). Barcodes help to streamline the stock control process within manufacturers and retailers. It increases the accuracy and efficiency of the entire production line and provides vital information to managers and decision-makers.
Types of barcodes used in manufacturing
Most manufacturers generate their own barcodes that are used internally on their production lines. These codes can be produced by simply using a barcode generator, although there are barcode standards that are used in the manufacturing world. Barcode generators are legal to use only if they are used within internal processes. They should not be used outside of these environments as they cannot be guaranteed to be unique since they are not registered in the international barcode databases. By using a barcode generator that is able to generate the appropriate manufacturing barcode standard you require, you will be able to produce as many codes as you need in order to streamline your manufacturing process. It would not be difficult to create your own internal standard. For example, by requiring the prefix (first few digits) of your internal barcodes to identify the supplier from where the components come from.
Other more complex codes that are sometimes used within the manufacturing process are Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags rely on radio frequency waves in order to read the data that is encoded within the tag. RFID was developed from barcode technology, however, RFID tags do not require line-of-sight to be scanned or detected, which has its benefits in the manufacturing process.
Whether you’re barcoding your components on the production line or barcoding your final products, it gives you greater control over your internal processes. You can manually attach a barcode to an item using barcode labels or asset tags, or in some cases etched onto the component. It is important that these barcodes appear as clear as possible in order to make sure that they are able to be scanned.
For any business with physical products, barcodes are just one of those things that you will eventually have to tick off on your business checklist. Barcodes are both vital to the production process and required by all retailers in SA and abroad.
Buy Barcodes is a local barcoding company able to supply all the required retail barcodes you need to get your products onto shelves quickly and effortlessly. They also offer a barcode labelling service that ensures your barcodes meet the barcoding requirements of manufacturers and retailers.
To find out more about barcodes and the barcoding process, check out their website: www.buybarcodes.co.za