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The Maintenance Management Blog

April 19, 2012

Barcoding Using Work Order Management Software

No storeroom attendant?  Use barcoding to keep track of inventory and reordering!

While writing about barcode topics in recent articles, I recall some interesting solutions I’ve encountered over the years.  One that comes to mind was a fairly simple remedy to the age-old question: How to monitor items leaving and returning to the storeroom without a storeroom attendant?

Obviously, no system is perfect. For instance, an RFID chip (radio frequency identifier chip) similar to those used to prevent shoplifting can silently detect an item as a person leaves the storeroom and automatically update inventory. Yet, even an RFID chip solution has its flaws.  I can remove the RFID tag. Regardless, we need something simple so that during an emergency rush, the worker can pull the parts, scan them and go without a lot of frustration and waiting.

One simple solution given these circumstances was a company that printed barcoded labels, affixed them to 3x5 index cards and placed a stack of them at each bin location.  When it came time to use a part, the worker simply took what they needed and took a card for each item. On the way out the door, the worker scanned their badge, scanned the cards and then discarded the 3x5 inventory cards.  The work order management software system did the rest.

Moreover, the same company deployed a high-end omnidirectional barcode scanner (scans in any direction) to speed the checkout process for the maintenance staff.  This system allowed worker to simply wave the barcoded inventory card near the scanning device without having to waste time with a scanning gun.  They could do multiple scans to account for multiple quantities, such as two scans for two belts of the same type.

Another process improvement using work order management software and barcoding was to eliminate the’ job number’ and assume a single cost center for all jobs.  Certainly, this is an optional choice, but perhaps not an optimal one for all maintenance departments.  In order to know what job the parts went to, the job number would necessarily need to be scanned during the process at some point.  For emergencies, a work order job number may not be available until after the work is performed.  This can be resolved with two scanners (one for emergency work, one for non-emergency work), or have a preprinted label for an emergency blanket work order number. 

Either way, this process works quite well. Replacement cards can be printed at the time the parts were received or during an inventory count.  Having reliable usage information helps to improve inventory turns, reduce unused stock, and increase storage for highly used parts to meet demand.  All in all, a successful storeroom is a storeroom with a barcoded inventory!  And a successful maintenance management system utilizes the best work order management software available.


Brock Prusha

About the Author – Brock Prusha

Brock has over seventeen dedicated years of experience as a software developer in the maintenance industry. Over that time, he has traveled and worked with many maintenance professionals on a variety of projects ranging from large software integrations to specialized software designed specifically for the client's needs.

Currently, he is helping to design and build the MAPCON Enterprise/On Demand software system. Brock holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and spends his free time at home with his wife and three children, volunteering for the Special Olympics and working as a leader in his local church.

Filed under: Barcode, barcoding, work order management software — Brock Prusha on April 19, 2012