Today’s facilities management software solutions, such as computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and work order management software systems, are versatile and extensive platforms that allow companies to centralize many of their important functions. In addition to monitoring maintenance activities, most modern facilities management software also includes support for the management of labor allocation, purchasing, work orders, and assets.
Asset management helps companies keep track of their important property while optimizing inventory levels, fleet efficiency, and equipment lifespans. A key component of an efficient asset management system is the use of barcodes to automate tracking. When optimizing your facilities management software, it is important to consider the entire system along with the various hardware and software components that are managed. In this post, we will explore some important criteria for choosing the right barcodes for your facilities management software and your operation as a whole.
Regardless of whether you are upgrading an existing system or creating one from scratch, you will need to make sure that your chosen barcodes can be easily read. Not all barcode scanners are the same, and it is always a good idea to understand the strengths and limitations of your hardware. It’s also important to consider your intended use cases for the barcodes, which could include tracking maintenance hardware, warehouse inventory, and equipment.
Your facilities management software solution may have preferred barcode formats and symbologies. It is also a good practice to select a single barcoding system for your entire organization to enable inventory transfers and streamline tracking. Starting with this knowledge will help you choose from the many available barcode options and ensure that they will not cause compatibility issues later.
Depending on the customers that you serve, there may be important industry requirements that you need to follow regarding asset management and equipment labeling. For example, the military industry has strict regulations that define how defense-related items must be marked and tracked at all times. If you are sending inventory to external vendors or retailers, they may also have preferred barcode formats based on the capabilities of their systems. You may not be able to find a perfect solution in all cases, but you can certainly choose barcodes that will give you the widest compatibility while complying with regulatory requirements for your industry.
When it comes to choosing the actual barcode design to use in your system, you will need to select the code type, material, and size. Each of these elements can be optimized based on the environment and operational conditions under which the barcode labels will be used.
Code Type. There are three main barcode types that are used today – numeric-only, alpha-numeric, and 2-dimensional. Among these types, there are about 30 major barcode symbologies that can be found throughout the world. While this may sound like a lot to consider, these barcodes have already been optimized for specific use cases from which you can choose. It is always best to select a barcode type that has wide compatibility among your intended internal and external scanning locations. We’ve put together an extensive guide to barcode types and standards that can help you understand the benefits of each barcode format and symbology and the important regulations that define requirements for particular industries.
Label Material. Environmental conditions will often dictate which barcode label material you should choose. Important assets that will be exposed to harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, wind, or rain may require a durable material such as Metalphoto® Anodized Aluminum. Also, consider the attachment method of the barcode label and ensure that it will have a proper amount of hold to keep the barcode label in place. Finally, always choose a barcode label material with an expected lifetime at least as long as the asset to which it will be attached. A lost or damaged barcode can cause errors or delays in inventory tracking and are difficult to replace for items that are in transit.
Label Size. The size of the barcode label may seem like a trivial factor, but it is best to select a standard size that can be used on both large and small inventory items. Selecting a label that is too large may not be suitable for smaller assets. A reasonable starting place might be a 2″ x 1″ label for general inventory tracking, as this size provides a nice balance between user readability and ease of scanning. There are many sizes to consider, and having your labels custom designed gives you the flexibility to choose what works best for your unique needs.
Choosing barcodes for a scanning system is an important decision that must account for a number of potential requirements. By considering industry best practices, you can save time and help ensure that your barcode scanning system is optimized and capable of handling even your most complex inventory tracking needs to streamline your most important facilities management processes.