According to PRNewswire and Conveyco, "The average U.S. retail operation has an inventory accuracy of only 63 percent." Across sectors, organizations often face similar problems tracking and maintaining reliable inventory records. This leads to wasted time and effort that can reduce your organization's profits and success.
Many businesses have successfully used barcode technology with modern inventory control solutions to reverse the negative operational and financial effects of their previous inefficient systems. It can be hard to know which hardware tools are the right fit for your organization’s operations and systems. In this article, we'll explore the differences between two popular barcode technology options so you can find and implement the right equipment for the job and for your team.
What Is a Barcode Scanner, and How Does It Work?
Barcode scanners scan barcodes and send the data to a smart device (desktop computer, mobile computer, smartphone or tablet) running a software application for data processing.
Barcode scanners are highly accurate and efficient when compared to manual keyboard entry. One can think of a barcode scanner as a keyboard/key entry replacement device. Rather than typing out a part number, one now simply scans the part number barcode instead.
The barcode scanner does nothing more than scan a barcode, interpret and decode barcode data and send the data to a smart device that has an application that will process the data. As such, they are commonly referred to as dumb devices.
There is much confusion when it comes to understanding barcode scanners. Many people believe that they can just scan items in a warehouse and that the scanned data will somehow update their inventory database. This is not the case.
Only when a scanner is coupled with a smart device running a software application is where the true magic happens.
Barcode scanners come in many different forms, such as handheld, countertop, scanner-scale (found in grocery stores), fixed mount, and in corded or cordless models.
What Is a Mobile Computer With an Integrated Barcode Scanner?
Consumer smartphones and tablets are mobile computers, essentially smart devices that run applications. Consumer smartphones can even run a barcode scanning application and use the smartphone’s camera to scan barcodes.
However, smartphones are generally not as durable or as scanning efficient when compared to devices built specifically for rugged and scan-intensive environments. Pointing a smartphone’s camera at a barcode can be awkward and most smartphones are not designed to withstand multiple drops to concrete.
Inefficiency and lack of durability are the two main reasons organizations sometimes choose rugged mobile computers that have an integrated barcode scanners as their scanning hardware. Security is another main reason companies decide to use rugged mobile computers with integrated scanners. This is because these devices can be made to limit application access and also provide other security measures.
Choosing a Barcode Scanning Hardware Solution
Both traditional barcode scanners and mobile computers have strong advantages that make them useful tools for any business requiring a barcode scanning solution. If you want to make sure you're choosing the right type of unit for your business, it's important to know what role the devices will play in your business operations and what your employees need from the devices. For example:
- Do you just need to enter barcode information into a spreadsheet and or is it more accurate and efficient to scan a barcode rather than typing the data in by hand?
- Do you need to be mobile for your scanning operation? For example, receive products on your dock floor, pick inventory, conduct a physical inventory.
- Does your scanning operation need to be mobile or stationary?
Final Thoughts About Barcode Scanners
Every business is different, and upgrading to new inventory or asset management technology is an important business decision. We recommend evaluating pain points in your business's daily operations to determine which barcoding hardware technology is the right choice for your internal processes and your budget. At BarcodeShack, we're committed to helping businesses find the right barcode hardware and software technologies that will help organizations succeed. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation for expert assistance in evaluating whether your business will thrive with traditional barcode scanners or mobile computers with scanning enablement.