Manufacturing and materials handling setups need to invest significantly in specialised equipment across the supply chain. Barcodes record all the necessary assets, which, in turn, can save time and money for such businesses. In a conversation with Baishakhi Dutta from EFY, Deep Agarwal, regional sales director-India, Zebra Technologies APAC, shares trends in barcode solutions and their impact on various sectors
Q. What is smart tagging and barcoding?
A. Barcodes, RFID tags or sensors will soon have a digital voice to communicate with human beings. As per a Gartner forecast, the number of connected things will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. This will spur more enterprises to increase visibility across their supply chain to know better where an asset is, or what condition it is in. Tracking these assets will rely heavily on data capture devices such as laser barcode scanners, two-dimensional (2D) barcode imagers, RFID readers and beacons to ‘talk.’ These devices will help translate data into text that humans can interpret and understand easily.
Q. How can enterprises make the best use of data collected through smart systems?
A. Data is perishable. Its value is time-sensitive and has a limited shelf life. Businesses must make sense of data before it expires. Enterprises, however, are gradually losing profitable insights since there are many incoherent origins and data which are being collected on their own, thereby contributing very little in the entire picture instead of rendering a broad view. Decoding the data collected through the Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled devices and wearables will help companies to accelerate their decision-making process and, in turn, make more informed business judgments.
Q. Where are smart devices heading with respect to application and demand?
A. More and more functions and services will be incorporated into a single enterprise-grade device. Demand is likely to be seen in areas such as retail, healthcare, transportation and logistics, and manufacturing—for mobile devices that scan barcodes, measure objects using mobile dimensioning technologies, connect to the Internet or intranet, make voice calls, and more. For instance, wearable devices built for warehouses will be increasingly equipped with multi-modal features, allowing workers to access multiple functions in one device.
Voice recognition and commands will make it easier for users to get instructions and tackle task together. Such technological advancements will increase productivity by up to 15 per cent.
Q. What is the use of mobile dimensioning?
A. Mobile dimensioning is picking up steam, especially in the transport and logistics industry. In a market where shipping fees are increasingly charged by volumetric weight for lighter items, such as electronic gadgets, this ground-breaking technology enables field workers to measure the dimensions of a package with a single touch on their mobile device—doing away with the hassle and inefficiency of carrying and using a measuring tape.
Q. How does artificial intelligence smoothen working with barcodes?
A. Companies are looking forward to more automated form factors in the years to come, such as roving robotic devices or flying drones that can read barcodes or RFID tags with little or no human intervention.
Q. Where do 2D scanners find use?
A. The flexibility of a 2D imager is very beneficial to enterprises that require a device to read multiple symbology types from different forms of media. An advanced technology like 2D imaging technology enhances customer understanding, upgrades productivity and widens supply chain management.
Q. What are the advantages of using barcode scanners in the electronics industry?
A. In manufacturing plants, barcodes can be applied to electronic components as small as 12mm, ensuring quality and traceability for every part. Specialised high-density scanners are required to scan such tiny barcodes. Further down the supply chain, finished products can also be tagged for inventory management and control when they get delivered to the warehouse or stores. On the retail shop floor, barcode scanners ensure proper inventory management, fast checkouts and seamless purchasing. Store associates can quickly identify which shelves need replenishment, and which items need to be ordered.