A Perfect Pair: Barcodes and Your CMMS
Jane Alexander | October 7, 2017
People see barcodes multiple times each day, but few truly understand their power.
A barcode is a form of information encoded in a visual pattern that can be read with a special scanner. The scanning device reads the barcode and turns the information into a line of text that computers can understand.
Barcode technology has become a critical add-on to any robust computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). When included in a CMMS, it can help track assets, inventory, employees, and other items or entities.
According to CMMS experts at Mapcon Technologies Inc. (mapcon.com, Johnston, IA), not only does barcoding allow information to be entered instantly, it also prevents costly mistakes due to human error. They offer these tips for getting started with the technology:
Determine the purpose of barcoding.
Before barcoding everything in your maintenance department, consider what you hope to gain from the process. Your intentions will determine what needs a barcode and what doesn’t. Overall, the technology offers an effective means for reducing human error and saving time through decreased manual data entry.
Decide what needs a barcode.
When you’re clear on what you want barcoding to do for your operations, you can decide how/where to deploy it. Inventory tracking is an ideal place to begin. After all, inventory counts go a lot faster when personnel can scan items rather than manually count them.
Barcodes can also be applied to individual equipment assets. Then, to create work orders, instead of manually entering a machine’s ID number, personnel simply scan the barcode. Once scanned, the equipment in question will show up in the CMMS and a work order can be generated. Required tools or parts can be added by scanning the barcode on the necessary items.
Keep in mind that workers can also have barcodes. Information such as name, employee number, shift, and crew can all be included. Instead of manually adding the name of a person to a work order, managers need only to scan the individual’s barcode. Options for convenient placement of worker barcodes include on employee hard hats and other apparel and work gear, as well as in managers’ offices.
Print your barcode labels.
Once you decide which items need barcodes, the next step is to print them. How you do that will depend on your particular CMMS and whether you have a barcode printer. Some systems allow you to add your company logo to the barcode for branding purposes. This is especially helpful if you’re selling or lending barcoded assets. Some CMMS suppliers will design the labels for you.
Don’t forget your scanner.
Barcodes aren’t very helpful unless you have a scanner. A scanner is a device that reads the information on the barcode and translates it into data that can be tracked. In the past, sites would have to purchase separate scanning devices. These days, CMMS systems allow users to scan barcodes with their smartphones or tablets. EP