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You Might Have a Bad Warehouse If... Your Bar Code Equipment Resembles a Dinosaur

By Kate Vitasek | 12/21/2009 | 9:33 AM
Yes there’s a recession on and budgets are tight. However, operating 35 year old bar code equipment is likely to be holding back your inventory management and other operational efficiencies.

This week's bad warehouse example comes from a contest, called "The Big Upgrade."  According to the contest, sponsors Ryzex and Psion Teklogix folks around the country reported some bar code scanning machine dinosaurs—including models that were more than 35 years old, according to sponsors. My favorite is below - but you can see the Big Upgrade site for more photos of some of the entries.

1970s-era MSI 2100 portable data-collection terminal

The oldest – and possibly the least attractive – entry in the contest was an MSI 2100 portable data-collection terminal that is battery-powered and relies on a cassette tape for memory. (One hopes that at least some fresh tapes were available on a regular basis, and that they were properly stored.) The unit, with its dull yellow outer shell and plastic carrying case, dates back to the early 1970s.

The grand prize winner was randomly selected from eligible entries.

 
Although the contest's sponsors injected humor into the proceedings, there was a serious point:  "With this contest, we saw how people stretched the life of their bar-code scanning devices to an extreme. This illustrates how hard it can be to recognize when equipment starts to cost a company more in maintenance and lost productivity than it's worth," said Chris Glennon, vice president of sales and marketing for mobile technology specialist Ryzex, in a statement.

Choose any cliché you like: The new car is worth 50 percent less (or more) the moment you drive it off the lot; or that new state-of-the art computer and operating system is virtually obsolete within months of purchase. If your bar code equipment memory is still running on cassettes, it’s time for an upgrade.

As always the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide has some good advice. “A key requirement of shipping documentation is in product and shipment labeling,” the Guide says. “Best in Class companies can generate customer compliant labels including bar code and AutoID (aka RFID) tags at the time of shipment.” It’s doubtful that a 35-year-old bar code device would be of much use when confronting a modern RFID tag.

So say goodbye to the Pliocene and start the New Year off right with some new warehouse equipment and thereby upgrade your Warehouse Management System.

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions that share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and maybe what to do if you’re not doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected].

If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free warehouse assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).

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