Bar Code Reader Applications

Introduction

Professionals use bar code scanners in various business scenarios—mostly in logistic applications for transportation, warehouses, libraries, and laboratories. There is great power in tracking products by article numbers or even unique serial numbers from manufacturing all the way to the customer—and even if the product comes back for support. Because the technology makes it very cost efficient to capture information at many points, professionals can easily collect detailed information and save it for later analysis and decision support.

Because many of the traditional bar code applications are mobile, the match with mobile devices like a Pocket PC is obvious. Therefore, various suppliers offer a lot of different bar code solutions. Many integrated devices have a bar code scanner built in, but recent solutions make use of wireless technology (like Bluetooth) to separate the bar code scanner from the mobile device. The need to make use of these bar code scanners directly from the mobile devices is obvious, and, therefore, many suppliers offer software development kits (SDKs) for their respective devices. Many of the large suppliers even offer ready-made development kits for the latest tools (read managed APIs for .NET Compact Framework); therefore, many enterprise solutions already make use of these libraries to integrate the bar code scanners with the business solution.

Benefits

In point-of-sale management, the use of barcodes can provide very detailed up-to-date information on key aspects of the business, enabling decisions to be made much more quickly and with more confidence. For example:

  • Fast-selling items can be identified quickly and automatically reordered to meet consumer demand.
  • Slow-selling items can be identified, preventing a build-up of unwanted stock.
  • The effects of repositioning a given product within a store can be monitored, allowing fast-moving more profitable items to occupy the best space
  • Historical data can be used to predict seasonal fluctuations very accurately.
  • Items may be repriced on the shelf to reflect both sale prices and price increases.
  • This technology also enabled the profiling of individual consumers, typically through a voluntary registration of discount cards. While pitched as a benefit to the consumer, this practice is considered to be potentially dangerous by privacy advocates

Besides sales and inventory tracking, barcodes are very useful in shipping/receiving/tracking.

  • When a manufacturer packs a box with any given item, a Unique Identifying Number (UID) can be assigned to the box.
  • A relational database can be created to relate the UID to relevant information about the box; such as order number, items packed, qty packed, final destination, etc.
  • The information can be transmitted through a communication system such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) so the retailer has the information about a shipment before it arrives.
  • Tracking results when shipments are sent to a Distribution Center (DC) before being forwarded to the final destination.
  • When the shipment gets to the final destination, the UID gets scanned, and the store knows where the order came from, what's inside the box, and how much to pay the manufacturer.

The reason barcodes are business-friendly is that the scanners are relatively low cost and extremely accurate compared to key-entry, with only about 1 substitution error in 15,000 to 36 trillion characters entered.[10] The exact error rate depends on the type of barcode.


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