Inventory Management: The Benefits of Bar-Coding Technology
Most computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) come with bar-code capability either included or as an add-on feature. Storeroom supervisors can use bar-code technology to link work orders, purchase orders (PO), spare parts, and equipment. Then, they can track and collate costs per event, as well as identify and directly address those out-of-limits costs. Supervisors also can account for parts, tools, PPE, or supplies leaving the storeroom and bill those materials back to the user.
Bar coding offers many benefits. The technology:
- accurately records all aspects of every transaction
- eliminates time-consuming data-transcription errors common with paper records
- eliminates manual data entry and mistakes for parts checkout, return, receipt, and reorder
- is popular among craft technicians because of the ease and speed with which they can check out parts, compared with written transactions
- enhances parts checkout and their timely reordering
- updates on-hand quantities automatically
- uses transaction histories to help determine minimum levels and reorder quantities
- records transaction histories for parts movement, cost, and charge-back
- streamlines PO receiving practices
- provides a rapid return on investment (ROI) — generally less than a year.
When technicians scan bar codes, a data-collection device — the bar-code scanner — gathers the data. The CMMS then transmits the data from the scanner to the appropriate CMMS module, either by batch mode or radio-frequency identification (RFID). In batch mode, the user loads the scanner into a cradle, receives a prompt from the CMMS, and sends the data to the appropriate modules via a download cable.