Achieving automation with light process changes
Many are considering discontinuing the use of an existing barcode system. There are often reasonable grounds for changing the complete system and choosing a new technology to improve efficiency. However, there are times when the investment is too heavy, time-consuming, and requires process changes that the company isn’t ready for. In these cases, keeping the existing barcode system could pay off by finetuning the processes by adding Wirepas Mesh into the solution.
Locating people and objects coupled with the collection thereby boosts overall business efficiency. However, an investment in a new system that would change all the old processes and require a change in the legacy system would also not give enough payback for the investments made. In these situations, it pays off to keep the old legacy system, e.g., the barcode processes people are used to, and add more data by adding a simple component to the process. Marrying the barcode to the Wirepas Mesh ID on a tag provides SKU (=stock keeping unit) item-level and pallet-level data that can be used in processes where location and sensor data are required.
BENEFITS OF LEGACY BAR CODE SYSTEMS WITH SUPPORTING TECHNOLOGIES
Adding Wirepas TECHNOLOGY in a legacy system can be a small change in floor level but enables major improvements in processes by when articles are connected. Barcodes are low-cost and virtually free.
Well-established standardizations are in place for barcode processes. E.g., the GS1 standard is widely acknowledged.
There are plenty of proven legacy systems available, and they are constantly being developed further.
Old processes can still be valid, well-working, and fine-tuned by adding a supporting technology like the Wirepas Mesh.
When item-level barcode data is married to a Wirepas Mesh ID on a returnable transport item(“RTI,” for example, a pallet, container, roll cage, etc.), the item-level data can be retrieved by using existing barcode or processes and tracking and sensor data is automatically collected with the Wirepas Mesh.
RTI-level data tracked with Wirepas Mesh will only bring new data sources for the backend system and automate specific processes.
In case barcode items are loaded on Wirepas Mesh-connected pallets, there will be no overkill in tagging when wanting sensor data since there’s no need to change the item-level barcode to sensor-enabled tags for item-level data collection.
There is no need to attach a tag to every individual item to collect sensor data extensively and reliably. RTI-level is more than sufficient, and when the RTIs are married to item-level identification data, you can rely on the sensor data to match item-level barcode data.
No overkill in new infrastructure for counting the goods for inventory. One simple, small gateway device gathers the RTI-level counting data.
Old barcode handheld readers can still read item-level data manually when needed. No need to invest in new handheld devices.
RTI-level processes can be fully automated.
If location data is needed, a few small battery-operated anchor devices must be installed. There will be no need for big, chunky, expensive radio frequency readers or repeater installations and wiring.
No need to replace existing fixed bar code readers, e.g., RFID readers.
HOW TO UP THE GAME BY ADDING WIREPAS TECHNOLOGY TO THE BAR CODE SOLUTION
Multiple barcode processes can be enhanced with Wirepas Mesh in warehouses, distribution centers, healthcare environments, postal services, and manufacturing.
The need for ‘line of sight’ for every inventory round for each item and/or RTI disappears, and manual reading tasks decrease. Since using Wirepas Mesh to count full pallets or other RTIs can automatically be counted into inventory via the network. Only items on partially loaded pallets need to be calculated manually. Partially loaded pallets can be identified by having sensors in the Wirepas Mesh-enabled tags.
The RTIs usually have printed barcodes (often on paper) that tear, stain, break, or otherwise spoil and thus cannot be read and connected to the barcodes on the products. Those are no longer needed, and the transport carrier can have an unbreakable mechanic design on the tag into which the item-level bar code gets married.
Automated location data is available on the RTI-level thanks to Wirepas Mesh-enabled positioning.
Similar tags, as used on the RTI, can be installed around the premises as an anchor point that offers a reference point for the tags on the RTIs for position data.
Goods-in/goods-out processes can be automated on the RTI-level. When item-level barcode data is married to the RTI-level beforehand, the goods-in/goods-out process is entirely automatic.
RTI-level sensor data, instead of just room level, available throughout the process to enhance productivity and prevent loss, is where the Wirepas Mesh network excels.
SUBTLE ADDITIONS TO YOUR BARCODE SOLUTION WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE PROCESSES
Once the goods containing barcodes arrive at the premises, they can be counted in on the pallet level if the pallet is equipped with an ID on a Wirepas Mesh-enabled tag/ sensor. The goods’ item-level barcode information must be married to the Wirepas Mesh ID. When transferring the items from RTI to the shelf or storage room, the marriage between the RTI needs to be broken, and if needed, it can be married on a Wirepas Mesh ID in the place chosen for storing the item.
Once the goods containing barcodes are loaded on an RTI carrier, the barcode gets married to the Wirepas-enabled tags/sensor ID on that carrier. When the carrier leaves the network, all the items married to it will also have processed as goods-out in the backend system.
Once the goods containing barcodes are loaded from one transport carrier to a pallet, container, roller cage, or another transport carrier, the barcode gets unmarried from the original RTI carrier with Wirepas Mesh ID and married to the new one on the next transport carrier.
4. INVENTORY AND PICKING
Once on the shelf, the goods’ item-level barcode gets married to the Wirepas Mesh ID of the shelf or another specified location. The inventory on the shelves, pallets, or other containers is automatic if the backend system is informed of items taken into use with the existing barcode system. Reading the barcode during the picking process, the backend will know to which Wirepas Mesh ID it has been married and will then count it out of inventory. Sensor technology can also be used for picking purposes to automate the process even further, e.g., weight sensors.
5. LOCATION DATA
Once the goods containing barcodes are on a pallet, their item-level barcode ID gets married to the Wirepas Mesh ID on the tags/sensor ID of the pallet. The location of the goods can be derived based on neighbor information of similar Wirepas-enabled tags with a fixed location configured for them.
Once the goods containing item-level barcode IDs are married to the Wirepas Mesh ID-enabled sensors on the shelf, on a transport carrier (such as a pallet or a roller cage), or in a specific room or area, the sensor data collected via these tags can be married in the backend system to the goods in question. This way, it can be ensured that the goods have been stored in the right conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity, etc.).
NEW SOLUTION OR IMPROVING THE EXISTING SOLUTION FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS
When considering replacing the legacy barcode system with a completely new technology, it is worthwhile to consider the actual business case, the amount of change in the processes, the needed infrastructure, and its disruptiveness, as well as the costs to-benefit ratio.
Wirepas Mesh can automate and secure processes in your solution while providing more data sources for business intelligence without disturbing existing processes, with light infrastructure that is easy to install and needs minimal configuration.