Inventory control is the lifeblood of every business, from keeping track of large amounts of goods in warehouses to managing drug supplies in medical offices.
Data capture devices give you the ability to collect and transfer data directly into a computer system without manual entry. When humans enter data manually, errors are introduced. The size and scope of the mistakes can be hard to quantify, but they will always create a hidden cost for your clients and their businesses.
Incorporating data capture devices within inventory control processes means reduced data entry costs, fewer errors in data collection and transfer, and highly accurate tracking and location information for goods and equipment.
Here are four types of data capture devices you should be considering and recommending for customers looking for optimal inventory control.
1. Automate data capture with barcode scanners
The workhorses of the AIDC industry, barcode readers automate inventory control processes from the grocery store to warehouse put-away, picking, and packing. And you'll find more than just wired, handheld units in this category.
Responding to the needs of evolving businesses, barcode scanners are wireless, wearable, and rugged, built to stand up to harsh environments and allow employees to work hands free. And wireless scanners help companies move data without the need for unwieldy cords and connections.
2. Manage difficult-to-track inventory with RFID
Radio frequency identification tags and readers remove the human element from many inventory control tasks. And since RFID tags are tiny microchips, they can carry much more digital information about the attached product than a barcode can.
RFID is especially effective for tracking the movement of high volume goods in warehouse environments. Using RFID eliminates the need for direct line of sight, and tags attached to pallets or containers can be read when passing through a portal or doorway.
Many companies attach RFID tags to parts beginning at the point of manufacture, allowing historical tracking across a piece's useful life.
3. Handle rugged environments with mobile computers
In warehouses and other high-volume inventory environments, mobile computers may be the best fit. Built to thrive in tougher conditions, these data capture devices can usually read barcodes up to a range of 100 feet, and handle damaged or poorly printed barcodes more easily.
Extended battery life is a plus for mobile computers, often going a week between charges. And depending on application and usage, these devices can have a lifespan of several years.
4. Integrate smartphones and tablets as data capture devices
With Bluetooth-based peripherals, it's relatively easy to convert smartphones and tablets into 1D, 2D, and RFID readers. But you'll also want to consider the overall environment when recommending these portable devices for inventory control.
Get the software vendor involved to ensure the particular data capture device integrates with selected software. And consider whether the vendor uses cloud-based software or mobile applications designed for specific devices.
Businesses without a dedicated IT department are gravitating to smartphone and tablet solutions, in part because the device manufacturers provide upgrades and patches automatically via the Internet. While this strategy limits the need for an IT staff, the down side is less control and the potential for software compatibility problems.
All of these data capture devices contribute to successful inventory control, and keeping the right products in stock, it's just a matter of finding the right fit for each business environment.
What data capture solutions do you recommend for inventory control?