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Belly Up to the Bar (Code)

Most revolutionary inventions come from years of grueling research and hours in a lab, but not the bar code. N. Joseph Woodland was sitting on a beach drawing lines in the sand with his finger.

Woodland left a historic legacy in his wake when he passed away on December 8, 2012 at the age of 91. His death came 65 years he ran his finger through the sand and saw lines of varying widths that might have a use other than for his own amusement.

The invention of the bar code is one of the most important and powerful inventions of the 20th century; by changing the way businesses operate worldwide.

Bar codes are everywhere, whether you see them when you buy a box of cereal at the grocery store or a pair of jeans at a department store.

Now, Delta Controls, one of the largest independent manufacturers of building automation controllers, has started using bar codes to track their inventory and make their operations run more efficiently.

For a company, keeping track of inventory can take a lot of time and effort. Delta Controls, one of the largest independent manufacturers of building automation controllers, is utilizing Woodland's invention to improve efficiency.

All about the story
Alan Waddell, the director of manufacturing at Delta Controls, leads Drive for Innovation editor, Brian Fuller, through the development of the company's bar code system.

Developing these bar codes requires a long, drawn-out process to ensure their bar codes work. If any errors are found, the process engineer steps in and stops the production in order to find out what caused the errors in the bar codes.

“The bar code tells us a story. It tells us a story with data entry, but also for customer service,” Waddell said.

The story that the bar code tells allows Delta Controls to track their inventory at every stop it takes.



This article was originally published on Drive for Innovation.

16 comments on “Belly Up to the Bar (Code)

  1. t.alex
    November 16, 2013

    Despite the growing use of alternative technology such as RFID tracking, the use of bar code is still widespread nowadays. It is still the cheapest can be used on almost anything. With 2D bar codes such as QR code, you can even store a URL inside. 

  2. itguyphil
    November 16, 2013

    Barcodes will not go away any time soon. SO many inventory management & supply chain systems use it as the foundation of product supply. RFID is an extension of that to make it more integrated with Web technologies.

  3. t.alex
    November 16, 2013

    RFID is useful in some cases such as smart inventory tracking and movement tracking.

  4. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 16, 2013

    I agree that, especially on low cost items, the bar code isn't going anywhere. I'm sure that eventually it will be pushed into niche markets.

  5. t.alex
    November 16, 2013

    Hailey, what niche markets you are referring to ?

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 16, 2013

    @t.alex, this isn't my speciality but i imagine it will be to products that are less expensive and don't have the margins to support more sophisticated technoloogy. Also those where granular tracking is less important.

  7. ahdand
    November 17, 2013

    @Hailey: Not sure why you categorize on that kind of products for this but I feel that it can be used for any item at any level. Anyway the going is tough and will get tougher in the future for sure. So why not try it out at this point and try prove something new and worthy ?  

  8. Wale Bakare
    November 18, 2013

    Bar code has been a very helpful keeping inventory management and it would continue to for sometime. While RFID scheme could be better but the tricky cost  associating with its implementation and deployment might not really be encouraging.

  9. _hm
    November 18, 2013

    Many of defence supply chain has 2D code as must requirement. Will bar code in due course be replaced by 2D code?

     

  10. itguyphil
    November 18, 2013

    It's especially efficient for anything that moves!

  11. Daniel
    November 18, 2013

    “Most revolutionary inventions come from years of grueling research and hours in a lab, but not the bar code. N. Joseph Woodland was sitting on a beach drawing lines in the sand with his finger.”

    Malcolm, thanks for sharing this story. We are using barcodes for more than a decade, but most of them won't know about the story behind such innovations. Thanks for educating us.

  12. Taimoor Zubar
    November 19, 2013

    @Jacob: Yea I'm also impressed with the barcode story and find it really amusing. I guess Malcolm is right about the fact that innovation is not restricted to labs and workshops, it can come anywhere. All you need is some kind of inspiration. Think about how Newton discovered gravity while sitting under a tree.

  13. Taimoor Zubar
    November 19, 2013

    “While RFID scheme could be better but the tricky cost  associating with its implementation and deployment might not really be encouraging.”

    @Wale: The problem with RFID is still the cost. RFID tags, no matter how cheap they've gotten, are still way more expensive than the barcodes which virtually cost nothing to produce. Unless RFID technology becomes as cheap, I don't think it can replace barcodes.

  14. Daniel
    November 19, 2013

    “Malcolm is right about the fact that innovation is not restricted to labs and workshops, it can come anywhere. All you need is some kind of inspiration.”

    Taimoor, there is no doubt that development of Barcode paved a new way of packet tracking and billing. Like RFID, Barcode also finds its own way in supply chain and business domain.

  15. itguyphil
    November 20, 2013

    Then there's the part about managing or converting the current inventory to the new scheme. Especially if there's a lot of it.

  16. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 26, 2013

    @nimantha.d, I agree that the solution is broadly applicable and I'm all for creativity and innovation whenever possible and reasonable.

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