Codes for Business
It is quite surprising to us that many companies, even some with
very high volumes of product movement have not switched to barcode
labeling. Having the ability to scan as many items as necessary
1) insure accuracy of product picked
2) maintain dynamic inventory
3) automatically generate shipping
labels, corrected packing lists and manifests. This can take a company that
is fighting shipping deadlines, to one that can keep pace with today’s
One of the primary expectations is
accuracy. Often, a customer only has to receive the wrong product or
quantity once before he decides to switch to the competition – even if he
has to pay more for the service than he believes he should.
We were reminded of this fact when
we recently visited the distribution center of a very large, highly visible,
international sporting goods company. We were surprised to see the very
large floor space between 2 receiving doors (now rendered unusable) and
product aisles, overflowing with randomly stuffed boxes and piles of
returned products. Our embarrassed tour guide explained that many of their
shipments to customers were late and/or inaccurate.
Eliminate the errors
Most picking errors occur when the
picker incorrectly selects product from the wrong slot, especially easy to
do when dealing with large numbers of small and/or similar items. The ideal
fulfillment system has scannable labels on each carton, item and slot.
However, even without carton and item labels, the scanning of slot barcodes
alone, using completely automatic laser or radio-frequency (RF) scanners
with each pick, will provide almost 100% assurance against errors. Note:
slots that are high in the air can have coded positions keyed to labels that
are reachable from floor level.
The picker scans the slot (and
the product or carton if labeled), picks the number of items in that line
for this order, scans the labeled receptacle into which they are placed, and
manually enters the quantity, or scans one item as many times as necessary
for correct count. (Ideally, this is done as a blind count.) If any of these
scans does not match the order information, the error message is given, and
the picker is immediately aware that a mistake has been made. Note: this
complete verification eliminates the need for checkers except for the
occasional QC checking dictated by company policy.