We’ve had a lot of great feedback on our recent barcoding guide. Thanks to everyone who got in touch to tell us what they liked about it. The article has led to some connect2 customers reviewing and improving how they go about labelling and tracking their equipment.
Taking the right approach to barcoding pays off in some really important ways. It can cut down on what amounts to some truly tedious and time intensive admin tasks. It maximizes the chances of successfully tracking and recovering all loaned out items. And it helps ensure students are always issued with the right equipment.
Students are learning as they go, so mistakes where the wrong items are issued are often not realized until a certain amount of inconvenience has been caused! As we hear from Mike Forbes, Assistant Director of Technical Systems at Middle Tennessee State University, having a good barcoding operation in place as part of the connect2 roll out has completely resolved this problem. Most delighted are faculty, who no longer need to complain when students turn up to filmmaking classes with the wrong kit.
Such are the benefits of barcoding! In fact you would probably struggle to find any operation that successfully manages inventory without a system in place. Where high value items are concerned, efficient barcoding means inventory managers can sleep easier at night. Together with equipment checkout software such as connect2 in place, staff know that their expensive equipment is never issued inappropriately. It can always be carefully tracked and maintained with full accountability for its usage.
If you haven’t read the guide yet, then we encourage you to do so here.
And if you’re looking at how you can improve services further for the forthcoming semester, here’s a couple more ideas from customer suggestions.
- Invest in a wireless barcode scanner, but make sure it has a good range. This one from Nadamoo has 328’ (100m) transmission distance indoors. With this kind of equipment, workers are able to move freely around the store selecting reserved items as they go. It speeds up checkouts, as you’ll know instantly if an incorrect item has been selected from the shelf rather than waiting until you get back to the desk. Also, if there’s more than one worker on shift at a time, it avoids bottlenecks at the desk and gives everyone more space to work.
- Often you need to change the label format of a barcode to suit the item concerned, for example a cable needs a different approach than other bulkier items. Take a look at the Dymo Rhino 5200 Label Maker for a fast and versatile method of producing your own labels.
Referring back to our university case studies, even when you already have a roll of barcode labels ready to use, there’s nothing to stop you reproducing a label in a smaller size, then disposing of the original. This is one of the tricks you can use to ensure you label practically everything of value – even SD cards. Anything that’s worth tracking and getting back should be barcoded as far as possible.
Ever since we created the connect2 checkout system, we’ve been great supporters of barcoding. Get in touch if you need more advice. In the meantime, here’s some key points to keep in mind:
- Barcode inventory systems eliminate human errors by swapping manual data entry for machine-reading by scanner. The right equipment is always issued and inventory is better utilized. It also saves masses of time when you come to stocktaking
- With experience, determination and the right label printer you can barcode almost anything! This keeps down costs in lost equipment, improves item availability and saves time spent hunting around for and repurchasing cables, batteries, SD cards etc
- The money saved from fewer lost items usually greatly outweighs the costs of barcoding, with materials and equipment costs fairly minimal
- Use a consistent approach to attaching the barcodes onto items, making sure they’re in the same place as on similar items so that they’re always easy to find. Steer clear of moving parts!
- You’ll sometimes find yourself trimming down barcode labels to fit smaller items, but remember not to go too far - barcodes need a surrounding white margin to still work when you come to scan them
- Even where multiple items of identical equipment are concerned, using unique barcodes promotes individual responsibility when borrowing equipment, so a lot fewer items will be lost. Unique barcodes also support building usage histories and managing maintenance and repairs
- There are lots of tips and tricks in our case studies to help make sure your barcodes always scan and never come off. Different items present different challenges – use of different types of tape, tiny tie wraps and tamper-proof asset tags all play a part in resolving them
- Having all items barcoded for a video or film shoot means expensive, bulky items can be returned right away, while post-production items (e.g. SD cards) can be returned later – i.e. there’s greater flexibility with no need to check-in all items in one go
To recap, the full guide to barcoding is available from connect2 here.
And some handy case studies of successful barcoding in action are available from our university customers here.
We look forward to your further comments and suggestions for ways to approach successful barcoding. In the meantime, we wish you happy scanning and beeping as you prepare for and welcome the return of students this fall!