Barcode Batch and Serial Number Scanners
If you operate a business in which you are buying and reselling items with serial numbers or lot numbers, you may have looked into barcode scanning as a method of recording shipments or stock takes more efficiently and with less chance of human error.
If you searched on the internet for “barcode scanners for serial numbers,” you probably discovered it is easy to buy a barcode scanner but astonishingly difficult to get information about how to use it for keeping track of serial numbers or batch numbers. We’ve encountered the same thing.
The Reason Barcode Tasks Are Difficult
As far as we can tell, the reason this information is hard to come by is that for anything other than the simplest of barcode tasks — and this includes serial numbers and batch numbers — most solutions require some custom programming on the scanner itself or some custom adaptation of the inventory management software.
“Out of the box” solutions are not the predominant model in which complex barcode scanning solutions are sold. That means internet quests for information usually end up at consultants and system integrators who have the expertise to program the components and put together a somewhat custom system. If you are looking for an affordable system to buy and deploy on your own, you are left out in the cold.
Additionally, barcode tasks are sometimes difficult because of factors like these:
- Outdated operating systems: Many barcoding solutions come with outdated operating systems that impede performance. They may limit your barcoding functionality and make it impossible for you to refine your batch and serial number scanning. Or, they may perform sluggishly, dragging your productivity and efficiency down.
- Minimal ability to associate data: Some barcoding systems, for instance, may not be able to pull up the correct stock-keeping unit (SKU) when you scan a related batch number. This scenario can lead to excessive scanning requirements and delays.
- Limited flexibility and scalability: Some barcoding solutions perform well under specific, limited circumstances. They perform a fixed set of tasks, for instance, or handle small to medium-sized inventories. These solutions might work well when a business purchases them. As companies grow, however, they may begin to require additional functionalities or expanded capabilities the original system cannot provide.
We’ve tried to solve these problems in Finale Inventory, and we’ve succeeded for a large class of companies. We’ll explain what we’ve done below, and hopefully, you’ll either find our solution applicable or at least end up with a better understanding of the issues.
Intro to Barcode Scanning — Use and Benefits
Barcode scanning services enable your business to enhance many of its processes by using each barcode number as a product finder. Barcode scanning helps you optimize tasks like these:
- Receiving orders: Receiving shipments is easy with our user-friendly barcode app. Your employees can use a scanner to scan the barcode on the shipment order and then scan the barcodes on each product, save the data in the scanner and sync the information over Wi-Fi. Automatic notifications alert staff members of incorrect scans and missing items, and you can usually use our scanners as product barcode scanners or batch code scanners depending on what barcodes the products have.
- Picking orders: As your employees pick orders, they can use the barcoding system to see exactly which items to select. As they scan each product they pull, the barcode number scanner will automatically update your system’s inventory record.
- Performing stock takes: When it’s time to count inventory, you can use scanners and inventory software to make the process run more smoothly. The scanners have separate modes for cycle counts and audit cycle counts that require zero-counting items, and you can use the software’s built-in reporting tools to collect and analyze stock data over time.
- Moving stock: When you need to transfer stock, using a barcode number scanner makes the process fast and effortless. You’ll merely scan the shipping location, receiving location and products and then confidently send your shipment on its way.
Fast, scalable and highly adaptable warehouse barcoding solutions offer tremendous benefits for your business. They make your work more efficient, save you money, conserve paper and enable you to train employees more quickly and easily.
How Finale Inventory Can Help
Finale Inventory is particularly useful in the way it streamlines using the different types of identifying numbers and IDs.
The fundamental difference between serial numbers and batch numbers and SKUs or Product IDs is that serial and batch numbers can be different for items of the same kind, whereas Product IDs — and for the most part, SKUs — are the same for items of the same kind. The Product ID identifies what kind of product an item is — serial numbers identify each item individually.
This difference explains why barcode scanning is more complex if you are keeping track of serial or batch numbers. If you receive a shipment of items or you pack or transfer goods, you can’t simply scan the Product ID and type in a quantity because that wouldn’t tell you which items you are receiving, shipping, packing or transferring.
In most cases, the first time you see the specific barcodes of items is when you receive products in a shipment. At that point in time, you need to scan in or select two pieces of information for each item: what kind of product it is — identified by the Product ID — and which product it is, identified by serial number or batch.
In a common scenario, if each item has a single barcode representing the serial number or batch number, then you can scan in that barcode and select the Product ID in the user interface of the inventory management system rather than scanning it. If there’s a second barcode representing the Product ID, you can also scan that. If you receive a box of items of the same type, then you’d select the Product ID only once and scan in each barcode once per item if they are serial numbers.
Or, if they are all from the same batch, you’d scan the batch barcode once for the whole box and simply type in a quantity for the number of items received having that batch. This step is where customization is often required. Now, I’ve rattled through some “common scenario” paths. Finale Inventory has a user interface that works excellently for most companies. If your requirements are similar to these, Finale Inventory’s solution probably has you covered.
The good news is that after you’ve scanned in the serial number or batch numbers of the items received and scanned or selected the associated Product IDs, Finale Inventory remembers the associations in a lookup table. For all subsequent operations like transfers, packing, stock changes or shipping, you only have to scan a single piece of information — the serial number or batch number — and Finale looks up the associated Product ID in the lookup table.
Thus, for all these operations, the barcode scanning process is as simple as scanning each item or entering a quantity for items of the same batch.
The kind of barcode scanner you buy will depend on whether a computer will be nearby or attached to the scanner while doing the operation, or whether you are scanning in batch mode while disconnected from a computer. In most circumstances, Finale Inventory’s general-purpose user interface will accommodate a company’s needs without customization for both kinds of scanners.
In the cases requiring customization, the key to understanding what personalization you need is to have a clear idea of the information represented by the barcodes and the information required for the inventory operation you are recording.
Make Finale Inventory Your Trusted Source for Barcode Scanner Solutions
When your business needs to simplify and streamline its inventory management, work with Finale Inventory for turnkey mobile barcode scanner solutions.
Our barcode inventory system options provide the freedom and flexibility your business needs to thrive. They help you speed up your processes, boost productivity and automatically update your counts so everyone has the most up-to-date information.
You won’t incur setup or startup costs with our services, so you can optimize your warehouse inventory management while sticking to your budget. We also include training and consulting with your trial and offer them free with each paid plan, so you can get the help you need if questions arise.