Bar coding improves inventory accuracy and efficiency in retail and distribution environments, but is inefficient and unnecessary in manufacturing environments where batch updating is much more practical.

Bar coding is well suited for retail and distribution environments where inventory is a simple in-and-out transaction and items are labeled with bar codes that reflect different package sizes.  

In a manufacturing environment, however, many items, especially raw materials, are not labeled for bar code scanning.  Additionally, package sizes are irrelevant because most components and raw materials are broken down and stored in bulk for issuing to jobs.  Implementing any type of shop-wide bar coding system would require a massive commitment to item and location labeling in order to achieve a consistent scanning capability.     

The other difference between retail/distribution and manufacturing is the average number of line items involved per transaction.  Assembly jobs can have hundreds of components where it is not practical to scan each and every item.  Accordingly, we’ve designed our multi-line transaction screens – PO Receipts, Job Issues, and Order Picking – for pre-filling where the majority of line items are processed with a single click.    

Inventory accuracy can be achieved easily and effectively without bar coding by using locations, issuing material in real time by means of issue or dispatch lists, cycle counting, and by immediately fixing BOM and stock discrepancies when encountered.