Warehouse automation can make inventory management a lot simpler, and it can even improve your company’s overall efficiency. There are several different ways to automate your warehouse, including paper logs, spreadsheets, and even traditional barcodes and scanners. However, QR codes and smartphones have proven to be the most effective way to automate your warehouse management.
Traditional Barcodes vs. QR Codes
A QR code is very similar to a traditional barcode in that they are both information matrices. A barcode can only hold information in one direction – horizontally – whereas a QR code can hold information horizontally and vertically. In fact, QR codes are considered two-dimensional because they carry information in two different directions. This means that a QR code can store far more information than a traditional barcode, and that’s why it is a better choice when it comes to warehouse automation. You can store and view hundreds of times more information with a QR code, and in a much smaller space.
Benefits of QR Codes and Smartphones over Traditional Warehouse Management
Before QR codes and smartphones, there were three ways to manage a warehouse:
- Clipboard and paper – This method is incredibly substandard and provides a massive margin for human error. It requires an individual to write down (accurately, at that) each product that is received or shipped out and keep track of volumes of paper. It is incredibly inefficient and virtually no warehouses still use it.
- Spreadsheets – Although spreadsheets certainly make things simpler, they still require the traditional means of using a clipboard and paper or barcodes and scanners in order to retrieve the information. What’s more, spreadsheets are often complicated, and one single incorrect value can cause errors that can be detrimental to your bottom line.
- Barcodes and Barcode Scanners – These are far more modern than the other two techniques, but they come at quite the cost. Barcodes don’t store much information; they may be able to provide information about the product type and product number, and perhaps the date it was shipped or received. What’s more, barcode scanners are expensive both to purchase and replace.
Why Smartphones Are Better Solutions
Just about every smartphone these days has a QR scanner built right in, which makes it easy for warehouse employees to use the tools they already have at their disposal to check items in and out of a warehouse. What’s more, because QR codes store hundreds of times more information than a conventional barcode, it is possible to record everything from the product type and number to the customer’s name and shipping address. This really comes in handy if an item goes missing. What’s more, those responsible for warehouse management can access a cloud-based application to keep track of inventory and make better purchasing decisions as a result.
If you think the only form of affordable warehouse automation is a pencil, paper, and spreadsheet, think again. QR codes make it possible to automate your warehouse management like never before, and because they can be read by most of today’s smartphones, it comes at a fraction of the cost of traditional barcodes and scanners.