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Keep mind open on "open" systems.

Keep mind open on "open" systems

Many readers are probably more interested in "closed" bar code systems, those systems developed solely for internal company use, than they are in "open" bar code systems, which are used by an entire industry or distribution channel. But these "open," or bar code application standards, may hold valuable opportunities for your company if they are understood.

AIAG, VICS, LOGMARS, HIBCC are all acronyms related to industry-wide bar code labeling efforts which should benefit manufacturers as much as they do distributors. Distributors of products for the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, electrical, and, of course, consumer goods industries all have bar code product identification guidelines in place. If no one has mentioned these guidelines to you, the odds are that somewhere in your executive office, there is a letter requesting (if not demanding) the compliance of your company to one or more of these guidelines.

What's the problem? Like the old cowboy said, "You either make dust or eat it!" If you are not out in the front of the pack involved in the bar code initiative in your industry, you will only be able to respond to that initiative. You will not know where the bar code application standard is going. And you will have nothing to do with steering its direction. Even if your industry's standard is in place, you should know that there will be many refinements that will occur as the standard becomes more broadly implemented in your company. The changes can either benefit your company or become a problem.

What's the opportunity? To use bar code information to your company's benefit and to implement it smoothly, thereby reducing the need for unproductive changes.

So, what's my advice?

* Be pro-active. Find out what standards may impact your industry. Most companies have distribution overlap (that is, distribution through several different channels) although few recognize it. Special bar code labeling may be avoided if your company is involved in the planning process or recognizes the relationship of different standards to its various trading partners.

* Find out the goals of the bar code application standard, not just the specification. Usually, the benefits are better communication and thereby availability of information to better control your company's inventories.

* Look for ways to use the information contained in the bar code standard for your internal use. Some examples: Taking physical inventory, counting production, verifying orders, and performing sortation, warranty, and lot tracking functions.

For further information about application guidelines in various industries, contact FACT (Federation of Automated Coding Technologies) at the Automatic Identification Manufacturers, 1326 Freeport Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238; or call (412) 963-8588.

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Title Annotation:Information/Control Systems
Author:Bushnell, Rick
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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