May 07, 2012
Integrating CMMS Software and Barcode Technology
This will probably be the last barcode-related blog entry for a while. I wanted to share another interesting solution for handling a busy tool crib using wireless barcode scanning technology.
The problem is probably a common one: how to efficiently distribute tools (or parts) while still maintaining usage and accountability. In this case, the tool crib was always attended but could be quite slow at times while the attendant searched and gathered tools. It would be like waiting in line at the store while the cashier continuously called the manager for price checks. You can image how quickly the workers would get frustrated.
At the facilities of one MAPCON CMMS Software customer, there were two parts of the solution that drastically helped reduced the long wait times. The first part was a well thought out Kardex carousel system, which is a different topic entirely. The second part was implementing a wireless barcode system to go with it.
Once barcode labels were designed, printed and applied, the company in this case study configured a dedicated workstation for their MAPCON CMMS Software application to process the scanned information using a wireless scanner. Each individual worker would produce their barcoded Company ID to scan, and tell the tool crib attendant the cost center to charge (the equipment lines were in cost center groups). The attendant simply scanned a pre-printed set of cost center labels, then, activated the Kardex automated storage system to find the requested tools, scanning them as he went.
Scanning a tool twice would issue a quantity of two, scan it three times…you get the idea.
Alternately the attendant could scan a preprinted set of barcoded numbers (1-20) if they preferred. Finally, they’d scan a ‘done tag’ to complete the process. Of course, a ‘done tag’ is merely a barcode label indicating the process is finished. The system had built in safety checks to make sure an ID wasn’t scanned as a part, or a part wasn’t scanned as a cost center and so on. In their case, a simple check of the part number length provided the perfect test. Employee ID numbers were always 4 characters, cost centers were 3 characters, and part numbers were 5 or more characters.
In the case of an attendant scanning the wrong item, or missing a step, additional pre-printed barcode labels provided ways to undo scans or to back up, or to reset. For the worst case scenarios, the attendant could always access the workstation and manually correct the problem.
Overall, the company in this CMMS Software case study achieved their goal of reducing unnecessary and costly wait time. As an added bonus, they could easily determine how many times they distributed a tool, against which cost center a tool was charged, and know which worker was accountable for that tool. Their small investment for MAPCON custom programming to integrate this system was quickly recouped in cost savings in less than a month.