From our very first customer installation, the PowerTrack mobility solution has supported barcode data entry. Barcoding is becoming increasingly prevalent in the construction industry, as the necessity to track materials, tools or equipment becomes of greater importance. Our construction clients are using barcoding with PowerTrack for the following activities:
- Material used on a job
- Material received at a job site
- Material/Inventory transfers
- Material (parts) used on a work order
- Equipment usage on a job
- Equipment transfers
- Equipment fueling
- Tool check out (to employee/subcontractor)
- Tool check in
- Tool transfers
- Inventory counting (materials or tools)
- Employee badge scanning
Barcoding can be extremely beneficial to an organization, and in many cases is required to assure an accurate tracking system.
Benefits of Barcoding
Reduction of Errors – The occurrence of errors for manually entered data is significantly higher than that of barcodes. A typical error rate for keyboard entry is 1 error per 100 characters. In contrast, barcode entry substitution rates are 1 error per 3,000,000 characters and better.
Quick and Easy Data Entry – A barcode scan is fast and reliable, and takes far less time than key entering data. A barcode label of twelve characters can be scanned in the time it takes to enter one or two characters on a touchscreen.
Data Integrity – Precisely because it is quick, easy and reliable, a barcode scanning system becomes essential for data integrity. Inventory or tool tracking systems require a scan for all item movements. If the tracking mechanism (writing or key entry) is too laborious, it simply does not happen, rendering the system useless.
Elements of a Barcoding System
Barcode 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.
Label Many factors go into the label specification, which encompasses the label material type (paper v. synthetic), adhesive, dimensions and any pre-printed information. These factors include 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. We will recommend a label material, size and adhesive combination that is best for your particular circumstances.
Printer We are an authorized partner for the major barcode printer manufacturers, including Zebra Technologies, Intermec, and Sato. We will select the right printer and accessories for your application based on your printing requirements, which will primarily be based on the type and quantity of labels that you will be printing.
Barcode Reader Your choice of barcode reader depends on your applications within the construction industry:
- Integrated Camera (Android and iOS Devices): Today’s Android and iOS devices can read most barcode symbologies with free third-party applications. The PowerTrack mobile software leverages this capability to offer barcode scanning for any input field. Since this solution does require a few seconds for the camera to be accessed and then focused onto the barcode, it is not recommended for scan-intensive application, such as inventory taking or tool room. It is an excellent choice for employees that have consumer grade equipment and need to do occasional barcode data entry.
- Integrated Scan Engine (Rugged Android Devices): The commercial Android device manufacturers, such as Motorola and Honeywell, offer rugged devices with an integrated scan engine. Scanning is instantly activated via a dedicated scan button. These scanners offer far better performance allowing for quicker barcode image acquisition and decoding. These devices also offer the popular features of consumer grade devices (for example, camera, wi-fi, cellular data, voice), although the ruggedness and higher performance scanning add extra cost. Fortunately, POSDATA is a high-level partner for the leading manufacturers, so we can obtain the best possible pricing for customers. The Motorola TC55 is a good example of this product class and is certified for use with PowerTrack.
- Hand held Reader: If you are entering data at a fixed PC, a good barcode data entry option is a handheld scanner—connected via cable or Bluetooth. There are many cost-effective options in this product category. Again, we are partners with the leading manufacturers, and will recommend the best product to fit the customer’s needs.
Total Solutions Provider
It is important to make sure that your solution provider has the expertise to design a barcode solution that is right for your application. In addition, your provider will need to have the expertise in integrating with your ERP/Accounting systems so that collected data can be validated and properly imported back to the system to update your material, tool and/or equipment data. The PowerTrack team at POSDATA is the total solutions provider with the experience that you can trust for your barcoding project.