What Are the Best Tips for Barcode Inventory Management?

D. Nelson

Inventory management is the practice of tracking items that a business keeps in stock. Items in inventory are considered to be assets because they have value in that they can be sold or used in manufacturing, production, and communication processes that guide day to day operations. Barcode inventory management is an asset management system in which inventory items are given barcodes that can be scanned. Information, such as count, receiving dates, and location then appears on a computer monitor. One of the best tips for barcode inventory management is to create a job position responsible solely for managing this system.

A pencil with a barcode on it.
A pencil with a barcode on it.

By creating a position, such as inventory manager, responsible for overseeing barcode inventory management, a business manager can centralize the inventory process. This is helpful for creating a database that is overseen by one professional who can make sure that all data is current and consistent. An inventory manager is also able to dedicate his or her time to managing inventory, allowing other warehouse workers to concentrate on other important duties.

A barcode reader.
A barcode reader.

Another important tip for barcode inventory management is the creation of a consistent system or protocol regularizing inventory procedures. For example, an inventory manager might decide that certain information should be available from a barcode scan, such as inspection dates and comments regarding health of a piece of equipment. For ease of reference, it might be a good idea for the manager to design and follow a notation system that allows for the clear conveyance of information and a faster data entry time.

Many experts believe that effective barcode inventory management allows inventory managers to become aware of operational problems before they occur, potentially cutting cost. If an item is scanned, for instance, and it shows that an employee has recorded that the item was not functioning properly, a manager can schedule a repair or inspection immediately. This can be more efficient and cost effective than waiting until an item has stopped functioning completely, since at this stage an item might need to be replaced, drastically increasing cost.

Barcode inventory management systems need to be updated from time to time to keep up with new demands. A good tip for inventory managers is to carefully plan ahead for implementation. Introducing a new system without first training all of the workers who use it can lead to mistakes and decreased productivity. Employees should be given time to learn new practices and to master use of new technology.

Keeping track of inventory with a laser barcode scanner.
Keeping track of inventory with a laser barcode scanner.

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