Especially in today’s economic climate, warehouses and factories worldwide must continue to maximize the output from their limited hardware and resources. The search for greater efficiency has led many organizations to implement Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) platforms that have enabled drastic improvements in operations. Data from a recent survey conducted by A.T. Kearney showed that businesses that moved to a computerized EAM system saw a 20.1% decrease in equipment downtime and realized a payback on their investment in just under 15 months.
These results are impressive and are supported by integrating additional capabilities such as scanners, barcodes, and other automated equipment. The core function of any EAM platform is the management of individual assets, and companies can choose between manual entry, barcodes, and RFID tags to identify and track their equipment. Barcodes, in particular, offer a number of benefits that can help operations improve their efficiency and productivity. As market demands continue to evolve, these are a few of the most important considerations when thinking about incorporating barcodes into your workflows.
1. Greater Efficiency
The typical EAM system utilizes a centralized software platform that can then be connected to additional hardware to enable automation. Tagging assets with barcodes is an affordable and simple way to increase the efficiency of your system. Operators can use handheld scanners to document the status of inventory or work-in-progress (WIP), and permanent scanners can be installed at convenient locations within the factory or warehouse floor to scan items as they pass.
A barcode allows you to assign a unique identifier to each piece of equipment and track this information in your EAM software. When technicians perform maintenance work or inspections, they can quickly scan the barcode and bring up their work orders on the fly, which reduces the likelihood of transcription errors or misidentified assets. Barcodes also help during the auditing process by making equipment identification quick and giving auditors a clear and transparent log for each item.
2. Workflow Transparency
Especially when managing multiple sites, barcode tracking provides a high level of transparency for all inventory and equipment. Any changes can be logged locally and made instantly available to anyone checking the system. This helps when coordinating equipment relocations, inventory transfers, and when modifying any existing workflows to make improvements. Barcode labels also can be selected to meet various local or international barcode standards so assets can be easily transferred between locations while still providing maximum compatibility with scanners.
3. Greater KPI Accuracy
Since barcodes provide a dependable way to track changes in equipment status and inventory, they can also improve the accuracy of your metrics. Nearly all EAM systems have advanced reporting features which allow you to manage key metrics such as:
- Order cycle times
- Inventory accuracy
- On-time shipment
- Inventory turnover
- Carrying costs
- Order filling accuracy
Having barcode labels installed on your equipment and inventory adds a high degree of reliability to your data. When you combine these solutions with robust workflows and procedures, you will have a system that allows you to review metrics at any time and quickly observe the status of your entire operation.
4. Less Waste
An effective asset management system must provide oversight for the entire lifetime of each piece of equipment. Monitoring assets with barcodes is one way to eliminate waste by reducing the need for duplicating assets and giving site managers a platform for optimizing inventory levels. Additional benefits include streamlined maintenance activities to help extend the useful life of the equipment and greater resource efficiency through automated or semi-automated inventory counts.
As mentioned above, the payback from an EAM system deployment can be rapid, and this is especially true for those operations which are tracking high-value assets. Also, there are many types of barcode label materials available, which allows you to select a level of durability and compatibility that matches well with each application and the expected lifetime of the asset. Camcode’s Metalphoto® Aluminum Barcode Labels, for instance, have an expected exterior life of more than 20 years and are designed to withstand exposure to extreme cold, heat, and UV. They also offer excellent resistance to chemicals, solvents, and abrasion, making them well-suited for industrial applications.
5. Higher Customer Satisfaction
Barcodes can have an impact not only on logistics, warehouse, and factory activities but also on customers directly. Barcodes allow you to more efficiently control inventory and handle shipment or other supply chain issues. By adding a high degree of reliability to your overall asset management system, they also reduce delays and help to maximize the speed and accuracy of your production processes. Customers don’t usually get to see all the work that goes on within your facilities, but they will be sure to notice those key metrics that impact them directly.
Asset management and inventory tracking can be greatly enhanced by utilizing an EAM that is connected to a robust barcoding system. Optimizing any warehouse operation involves a lot of decisions, big and small, that ultimately come together to impact your performance. With so many barcode label materials and design options available, it is always helpful to seek out a trusted partner that can help you select the right equipment and accessories for your unique situation.