Choosing the right barcode labels is always easier when you do some planning before making a purchase. If this is your first purchase and you are implementing an entirely new system, it’s an opportunity to design an effective barcode scanning process from the start. Businesses adding new barcode labels to their existing operation have an ideal opportunity to review their practices and implement changes that can boost efficiency. In addition to obvious qualities such as scanner compatibility, there are also other important considerations to weigh before moving forward.
Barcode labels are one of the most popular choices for managing traceable assets. They can be easily affixed to nearly any piece of equipment, inventory, or other asset and are even used as Unique Identification (UID) labels for tacking regulated equipment in the defense industry. Many of today’s modern enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) rely on barcode labels for asset tracking, monitoring, and maintenance management. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the essential best practices to consider before purchasing barcode labels.
Selecting Your Assets
One of the first things you should look at when preparing for new barcode labels is your current asset and inventory management plan. If you’re developing an asset management program for the first time and don’t yet have a plan, now is the perfect time to create one. Consider all the assets you manage and decide which assets and equipment should be tracked using barcode labels. Identify any workspaces, shelving, or rack space that may require tags or labels, as well.
The best way to review your assets is in the context of the factory, warehouse, or facility floor plan. Review work processes with your team and determine how assets flow into and out of the facility and how various resources interact with them. Products, equipment, and inventory may all have different barcode labeling needs, and having a clear list from the start will help you in the later stages of planning.
Identifying Tracking Needs
In addition to the layout of your facility, it is also an excellent practice to review the barcode scanning hardware and software programs that your company uses to scan and track items. Other considerations to explore include how long each barcode label will be used and the configuration of your barcode scanners and other hardware within the building or across worksites. All of these factors could impact the barcode labels suitable for each application. One significant factor in using barcodes effectively is the scanning distance. The proper scanning distance is mostly defined by a combination of the scanning hardware, label surface coating, and size of the barcode.
Assessing the Environments
The environments in which your barcode labels are used are a primary consideration when selecting label materials, finishes, and attachment methods. Standard warehouse conditions allow for flexible options and standard label designs, while harsh environments with exposure to extreme conditions will require a more durable barcode solution. Potential exposure to things like moisture, extreme temperatures, sand, and chemicals can render barcode labels unreadable if you choose an incompatible material.
Selecting Optimal Labels
After identifying the asset management plan and potential environments, you can review the options available for label materials and other design considerations. Here is where you can compare the specific qualities of various types of barcode labels against your application requirements. These are some of the most important features to consider when selecting barcode labels:
- Label design. The size, graphics, barcode symbology, and color of a barcode label can all be customized to meet your desired branding and functional requirements. Choose a substrate material for your labels based on compatibility with the expected environmental conditions. Select the appropriate label size based on the desired scanning distance. You may be able to choose the finish, such as a matte look, as well.
- Surface attachment. If you’re labeling assets with curvy surfaces or irregular contours, choose a flexible barcode label. Most barcode labels are available with an adhesive or mechanical means of attachment. Other options, such as tamper-resistant labels that leave clear evidence of any attempt to remove them, should also be considered for some applications. For instance, costly moveable assets such as computers and other equipment may benefit from the added security of tamper-resistant labels to reduce the likelihood of theft and unauthorized transfer.
- Quantity and printing method. Most barcode labels are already optimized with a printing method that best suits the type of material, finish, and any coating that is required. You can always review the printing method with your supplier and discuss the printing options and pricing based on your desired quantity. Take advantage of quantity discounts to reduce your upfront investment.
It’s always best to review your application requirements and other considerations before purchasing barcode labels. Discussing your needs with a trusted supplier like Camcode will also help reduce scanning errors or process issues. With careful planning, you can implement a barcode labeling solution quickly and start reaping the benefits of effective asset tracking.