We have discussed a number of contributors to supply chain costs for parcel shipping, labor and indirect costs. Logistics and Supply Chain Managers are constantly looking at these numbers to reduce costs and gain efficiencies in their operations. The use of barcodes has become a common practice in warehousing, but there is still room for growth.
Barcodes initial use was for grocery checkouts. Now, barcodes have a wide range of uses from access control in security, coupons, gift cards, tracking technology and the movement of goods through the supply chain. In supply chain activities, barcodes decrease clerical time by minimizing manual data-entry functions. Barcodes have given companies the ability to track inventory through each phase of the supply chain and reducing errors. Many warehouses create their own barcodes for tracking inventory and activities within the warehouse. The barcodes can monitor employee productivity and help with product recalls. Warehouses have applied this technology to areas of receiving, putaway, replenishment, picking, packing, shipping/manifesting, returns, cycle counts, project/value-added work and labor tracking.
As for the future of barcodes, many question whether or not we will need them. Advancements in barcodes have brought QR codes and image recognition technology to market as consumers are constantly looking for more information at their fingertips. QR codes provide nutritional info, coupons and other advertising mediums to your cell phone. As shoppers demand more information about products and suppliers need more data to help with their supply chain, the basic barcode will need to adapt or change. Expectations are that in the next 10 years, innovations in technology will bring more data to the consumer at their cell phone level about their purchases and these changes will affect warehouses and the flow of data for supply chain professionals.
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