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How Barcodes Work to Increase Efficiency: Reducing Human Error, Optimizing Data Entry, and More

Last Updated: July 2, 2019

C-suite executives and managers constantly look for tools to increase operational efficiency, from mobile devices to software that is available in the cloud. One tool that consistently delivers increased efficiency and productivity across a broad range of industries is a barcode label. When paired with the right barcode scanning system, barcode labels improve data collection processes to maintain consistent, efficient workflows that positively impact the organization as well as the entire supply chain.

Barcode labels and scanning systems lend themselves to a variety of applications across a range of industries to increase efficiency in a number of ways. We explore the following topics to help you gain a better understanding of how barcodes streamline processes and increase efficiency:

  1. Barcodes significantly reduce human error
  2. Barcodes increase efficiency to help organizations conserve resources, save money, and improve productivity
  3. Efficient barcode systems save time

Continue reading to learn more about the ways in which you can use barcodes for data collection and to improve your organization’s overall efficiency as a result.

1. Barcodes Significantly Reduce Human Error

Companies, warehouses, and other facilities that rely on manual data entry suffer Warehouse shelvesfrom high occurrences of human error. It is all too easy for employees to invert numbers, skip a line, misread a number, or use poor handwriting that others cannot read when entering data by hand. In fact, on average, people make an error in one out of every 300 characters they write, which results in people making an average of 18 mistakes each hour.

Barcodes, on the other hand, significantly reduce the possibility of human error to the point of nearly eliminating it. Barcode scans are fast, reliable, and less time-consuming than manual data entry. When barcodes are read by scanners, their graphics are quickly and accurately translated to a display in a software application on a computer or a handheld device without the errors often associated with manual data entry.

Employees using barcode systems also work much more quickly than employees who rely on manual data entry. When considering human error, an average worker’s real production of good numbers in one hour is 432. Conversely, the average time to locate and scan a barcode is approximately two seconds, or 1800 per hour. Furthermore, studies show that using barcodes results in an eight to ten-fold increase in productivity.

For example, in the case of health care centers, switching from manual data entry to barcode software and equipment helps eliminate preventable errors that are a leading cause of inpatient death. When implemented correctly, barcode scanning systems help reduce medication errors in a variety of health care centers.

2. Barcodes Increase Efficiency to Help Organizations Conserve Resources, Save Money, and Improve Productivity

One way that barcode systems conserve resources is in training new employees. Rather than needing to become familiar with an entire inventory or pricing procedure, employees using hand-held scanners for reading barcodes need only a few minutes to master the scanner’s functions. Thus, employee training time gets slashed, and training becomes more efficient and less expensive because onboarding is simpler.

When speaking in terms of inventory, barcodes help businesses of all sizes increase efficiency and save money. Businesses especially find it easier to cut costs when they use barcodes to inventory products, raw materials, office supplies, and everything in-between. With a single scan, barcodes help employees recognize items, locate them, and get other information such as cost, price, or supplier.

Companies that struggle to reduce inventory carrying costs also benefit from implementing barcode systems. Barcodes empower companies to update inventory in real time with immediate, accurate updates that deliver true inventory counts. More accurate inventory counts translate to improved efficiency because they enable companies to establish more accurate delivery time estimates, a better definition of inventory costs, and a better price to market.

Leading inventory control software and warehouse management software solutions combine with barcode scanning software for increased functionality, such as providing reports to managers who need to determine which items sell best. Companies also may establish reorder points to prompt orders for specific items when they reach a predetermined level. The tools and reports provided by barcode scanning systems help companies significantly reduce inventory carrying costs and improve customer service while saving time and money.

3. Efficient Barcode Systems Save Time

Using barcodes also helps companies save time. The majority of barcode scanners Barcode scannercome with computer programs that do not require manual writing and keyed entry. Thus, the data automatically updates the central database each time an employee scans a barcode. Other ways that efficient barcode systems save time include:

  • No delay between the generation of the manual sheet and the data being entered into the system
  • Use one barcode to contain various information; employees can scan the barcode and get fast, reliable data for a variety of applications
  • Barcodes and their scanning systems streamline employee clock-in and clock-out; employees do not have to write down their start and stop times, which saves an average of 30 minutes per employee per shift.

Barcode labels and scanning systems play a pivotal role in increasing organizational efficiency. It is important that you understand when it makes the most sense to use barcodes in your business processes and which type of barcode scanning system is most appropriate for your situation so you can maximize their potential to reduce human error, conserve resources, save money, increase productivity, and save time.

Images via Pixabay by delphinmedia and PublicDomainPictures

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