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Inventory software and barcode tracking scanners have become less expensive over the last 5 years or so. As you might expect, the capability of inventory software is the inverse of the price. Please note that for the first 2 categories below, the mobile barcode scanner will be a “batch” scanner. That means that you’ll collect inventory data using the scanner, then come back to a PC and pull it out. The third category of systems includes “wireless” systems, where the mobile barcode scanner connects to the database on the network using a WiFi connection.
That being said, there are 3 general categories of inventory software: (Note: all prices are for a single user copy of the desktop software, the mobile barcode scanner, and the program that runs on the scanner.)
Least Expensive ($500-$1500) – Runs on the mobile barcode scanner only. Gives you the ability to take inventory data - track receipt, put away, move and ship (just another word for taken out of inventory). When you’ve collected the data, you come back to a desktop PC and pull out the data file from the mobile barcode scanner. From there, you can open it in Microsoft Excel, or import it into a database program like Microsoft Access, SAP or Oracle. Although this is gradually changing, most of the least expensive programs will just give you item number information. That means that when you open up the file, there will be no descriptive information about the items that you scanned. You’ll need to cross-reference this information with the Master List to come up with the description of the material.
HINT: If you have the Master List in Microsoft Excel, just import the data from the mobile barcode scanner into another worksheet in the Excel workbook. Then write a simple macro using the VLOOKUP function to copy the descriptions from the Master List worksheet to the sheet that contains the mobile barcode scanner data.
Products that fit into this category are:
PTS Tracer (ptshome.com), CBC Inventory, SerialMagic (serialio.com), DoInventory (wakefieldsoft.com/doinventory/)
Budget, Full System ($1000-$5000) – This type of system has both the mobile barcode scanner and a desktop program with the ability to pull the data from the scanner. The desktop program has the ability to do everything the mobile barcode scanner does, but also gives you the ability to add items, run reports, schedule cycle count, etc. The desktop program has an inventory database, most likely in Access or SQL format. These systems are very capable, full featured and complete. They can import and export data with any back-end system you might have. Single-user systems to start, they can be upgraded to multiple users talking to the database at the same time.
Products that fit into this category are:
RedBeam, Track’Em, RioScan
Full Featured System ($10,000+) – This is a state-of-the-art system with wireless mobile barcode scanners. The scanners talk to the database in real-time, and make any updates as they happen so the database is always up to date. On the desktop side, these systems tend to be multi-user, and have the ability to designate bin sizes, take feeds from an MRP system or ordering system to project warehouse capacity vs. orders vs. item usage, and a bunch of other features you would need for complete warehouse management. One of the coolest things I’ve seen one of these do is for an operator to scan a single pallet barcode on an incoming shipment, and be presented with a list of items in the pallet, and the open location recommendation from the system for where to stock it.
Products that fit in this category are:
Sage, Intellitrack, CoreIMS
Naturally, your choice of software will be driven by your goals and your budget. The most important thing is to take your time defining your needs and to complete a thorough evaluation of the demo programs supplied by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that many of the “off the shelf” programs listed above can be modified by the manufacturer to meet your specific needs.
After you select the inventory software and receive your training, all you have to do is import your Master List to set up the system. You’re now ready to take the initial barcode inventory. Click Here.
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