Construction Companies Barcoding Inventories – Where to Start?

Our company has deep roots in barcoding. In fact, we were helping retailers and manufacturers with their barcoding systems long before we introduced our first mobile solution for the construction market.

It is exciting for us to now be working with so many construction companies on their barcoding needs – whether for inventories, tools or equipment. We’re finding that barcoding is especially helpful in the electrical and HVAC contractor segments, where managing parts inventories is so important.

When we help a customer with their barcoding plans, we cover the following areas:

1.  Objectives

What will be barcoded and why?  If inventory is being barcoded, when will it be scanned and for what reasons – inventory transfers, inventory consumption, cycle counting?  In order to design an effective barcoding system, it is important to know up front the expected functions of the system.

2.  Applications

Are we adding barcoding to existing (key entry) applications or will we need to design new applications that integrate the barcode scanning functions. Who will be doing the barcode scanning and what degree of mobility will they need? Will the application need to work even if there is no connectivity to the host database?

3.  Symbology

There are several different barcode standards, called symbologies, which differ primarily by the type and amount of data that they can represent. These symbologies are either linear or 2 dimensional, with the 2D codes holding much more data. We will recommend an appropriate symbology as required by the data to be encoded.

4.  Scanning Hardware

If scanning will take place at a desktop computer, we will normally recommend a cordless hand held scanner, connected via Bluetooth wireless to the computer.

For workers that require a mobile device, there are several options. In scan-intensive environments, we will either recommend a rugged Android smartphone such as the Motorola TC55 with integrated scanner, or a separate hand held scanner connected via Bluetooth when a consumer-class smartphone is being used.

For scenarios that are not scan intensive (i.e., only occasional scanning) and where the customer has chosen a consumer-class smartphone, we will design a barcode and labeling solution that will optimize the scanning experience using the smartphone’s integrated camera.

5.  Label and Printing

One of the common questions that our label experts ask is “what does the label need to do?” This question encompasses many things, such as the length of time the label must survive, environmental conditions, dimension requirements, required barcode and human readable data, type of surface that the label needs to adhere to, etc. Based on the answers to these questions, we will recommend a label material, size and adhesive combination that is best for the circumstances.

We will also recommend the appropriate barcode printer based on the type of labels to be printing and the amount of printing to be done.

As can be seen, there are quite a few considerations in designing a barcode solution. It is important to make sure that your solution provider has the expertise to design a barcode solution that is right for your situation.