A close up of a barcode that can be used on assets and scanned with a scanner.

Effective maintenance management relies on high-quality maintenance data. However, human error causes inaccurate data to be entered into computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, compromising the usefulness of the information stored within it. Because of this, organizations often implement a barcode system to ensure accurate data entry and lookup. This article provides an overview of the many applications of barcodes in maintenance management.

Applications of Barcodes in Maintenance Management

Barcoding is a versatile technology that enhances many day-to-day maintenance management activities. The sections below describe common applications of barcodes in maintenance environments.

Asset Tagging

Asset tags are barcode labels that uniquely identify physical assets and are directly applied to asset exteriors for tracking purposes. In an ideal scenario, asset tags allow maintenance staff to walk up to an asset, scan the barcode, and perform some action using their CMMS. For example, the system might allow users to look up asset details, view maintenance records, or create a work order for the asset.

Asset tags are useful for organizations that have a large number of assets to maintain. Scanning barcodes reduces human error, ensuring technicians access and record accurate maintenance data for the specified asset.

Because asset tags are affixed to the asset, barcode labels must be able to withstand extreme temperatures, moisture, debris, and vibration without being compromised or lost. Incomplete or missing information invalidates the value of the barcodes. Organizations must choose the barcode printer and labeling materials that best suits their needs.

Read more: What is Asset Tagging?

Tool Tracking

Durable assets like tools are also commonly tracked via barcodes. This is because, unlike equipment assets which are largely stationary (except for vehicles), tools are mobile, shared among staff, and change location often. Barcoded tools allow the maintenance department to monitor exactly which tools are checked out, their current locations, and how many are available in inventory for use.

Tool movement is tracked through a check-in/check-out process using barcodes, similar to borrowing books from a library. When a tool is needed, technicians scan the barcode to check it out, reserving it for use. When the tool is returned, it is scanned back in to its storage location.

Read more: What is MRO Inventory Control?

MRO Inventory Management

Organizations typically stock hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands (or more) of MRO items within a stockroom. The sheer volume of unique inventory items makes it necessary to avoid misidentifying inventory items when completing work orders or replenishing the stockroom.

When applied to stockroom racks, shelves, and bins, barcode labels are useful for identifying the items stored there. This is useful for verifying parts pulled for maintenance work, adjusting part quantities when making kits, and performing physical inventory counts. Stockroom employees save time by scanning barcodes instead of manually typing numbers into the CMMS.

Alternatively, barcodes might exist in a master binder that lists all inventory items along with their corresponding barcodes. When the location of an inventory item is unknown, employees can look up its location in the CMMS by scanning the barcode information into a search field. The system then identifies the exact aisle, rack, shelf, and bin location of the item.

Read more: What is MRO Inventory Management?

Purchasing and Receiving

Barcodes are a useful tool when used with a CMMS’s purchasing and receiving functionality. When new inventory items arrive and need to be received, employees look up purchase order records by scanning a barcode on the physical PO form. From there, employees then update the status and quantities of incoming purchase order items. Having barcodes in place makes this process much faster and easier, especially when several items are received at once.

Organizations that track vendor item numbers are able to scan the barcode labels on incoming items and match it up with inventory records in the CMMS. Then, organizations are able to generate barcode labels that follow the organization’s internal numbering scheme for tracking and stocking purposes.

Barcoded Documents

CMMS software with barcode capability can generate barcoded paper documents, such as purchase orders and work orders. When these records need to be looked up and updated in the CMMS, all users need to do is click into a search field and scan the barcode. This is a huge timesaver when many items are received at once, or when a batch of work orders is ready to be closed.

CMMS Ease of Use

Depending on the CMMS, barcodes can provide shortcuts to valuable information. For example, clicking through multiple screens takes much longer than scanning a barcode. After the system recognizes the asset (or document), it can take the user to the record details or present the user with a list of options for what to do next.

Even if scanning a barcode only reduces user interaction by one click, those clicks add up over time. After all, the less time a technician spends clicking around in the CMMS, the more time he can spend actually performing maintenance work.

Benefits of Barcoding Technology in Maintenance Management

The applications of barcodes span nearly every major facet of maintenance management. Fortunately, many CMMS software solutions include barcode technology, thereby making it easier to incorporate barcoding into your maintenance process. As this article demonstrates, there are many advantages to barcoding:

  • Reduced Human Error: Barcode scanning allows information to be entered into a CMMS using a scanned code instead of manual entry, thereby preventing mistakes and improving the accuracy of maintenance data.
  • Increased Productivity: Once fully implemented, a barcode system allows maintenance workers to quickly locate information or take additional action using the CMMS. Wireless scanners and mobile barcode scanning allow employees to stay productive.
  • Better Decision-Making: When using accurate data, maintenance organizations are able to make smarter decisions about asset maintenance, inventory purchasing, maintenance schedules, and more. This leads to more efficient operations and lower maintenance costs.
  • Improved Return on Investment (ROI): Over time, organizations will be able to grow into using more advanced features of their CMMS. Combining powerful CMMS software with a barcode system provides additional long-term value to the organization, increasing the CMMS ROI.
  • Increased User Adoption: Employees are more likely to adopt a system that is easy to use. Barcode scanning provides an easy data entry method for employees of all computer skill levels.

Improve Your Maintenance Operations with FTMaintenance Select

FTMaintenance Select barcode capability allows for comprehensive management of your assets and inventory, and integrates seamlessly into your maintenance work order management processes. Contact us today to learn more about the FTMaintenance Select barcode system.

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