Not too long ago, mobile phones were used just as a medium of communication. The handsets were ridiculously large and hardly capable of doing anything other than making calls. But for the past couple of years, mobile phone technology has progressed by leaps and bounds. From accessing the internet to taking photos and making videos, technology has come a long way. And with the advent of smartphones, we’ve truly stepped into 21st century functionality.
Phones are rapidly replacing most of the devices we use daily. You no longer need gaming consoles to play your favorite games, nor DSLRs to capture that perfect candid moment. The ubiquity and wide range of functionality extends their use from domestic entertainment and personal communication to small business and large enterprises.
Checking emails on the go and accessing important files through one’s phone is commonplace in corporate contexts today. One very important way smartphones are being used in businesses is the scanning of barcodes and QR codes for asset tracking and inventory management.
Barcodes and QR Codes in Business
SMBs and large enterprises have always had to design appropriate systems to manage and track their assets. This helps ensure smooth operational workflows and theft deterrence. Barcodes and QR codes have been used for many years to streamline the cataloging and managing of assets and inventory. So how do barcodes and QR codes work? Barcodes essentially comprise of a set of black and white bars, while QR codes are two-dimensional codes and contain an array of black and white squares. Both of them represent text characters readable by machines. This information is then scanned, decoded by machines and used for a host of organizational and logistical operations.
Until recently, dedicated handheld devices were used for barcode and QR code scanning. But with the advent of smartphone-based code scanning, these hardware peripherals are slowly becoming non-existent. These traditional scanning devices, no matter how accurate in their operations, have certain shortcomings. Most of them are highly expensive and almost all require some sort of configuration with desktop computers for further operations. On the contrary, smartphone-based scanning is incredibly convenient and dramatically cost effective. Let’s have a look into how smartphone-based scanning helps businesses in barcode and QR code management.
Smartphone based scanners let companies cut costs associated with hardware, as well as creating savings on the maintenance of traditional scanners. The need to hire a consultant/integrator to configure the device with desktop computers and asset tracking software is eliminated. Implementation costs are negligible as most employees already carry a smartphone. In medium and large enterprises, the scanning process is usually done at multiple sites to speed up the process. There might be as many as hundreds or thousands of scanning sites in large companies. Using separate dedicated devices at every site leads to costly inefficiencies. A case study showed that replacing rugged-scanners with smartphones reduces the total cost of ownership by half. If the company implements a bring-your-own-smartphone policy, the cost associated with hardware is completely eliminated, greatly increasing savings.
Work in Remote Areas
A lot of scanning tasks need to be done away from the field and at remote locations. Especially in the case of construction projects, scanning and other inventory management related tasks are often done off-site. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and wireless scanners were designed to tackle exactly this problem. But such devices failed to provide an efficient solution as they only worked within a specific radius of computers they were integrated with. Smartphone based scanners, however, provide a complete solution to the problem. They work at any location and can easily be carried around in a pocket (in fact, they are already in everyone’s pockets these days). There is no need to be worried about being close to your workplace. You can perform your tasks anywhere around the globe.
Stands Up to Every Environment
Scanning is often carried out in harsh conditions, like in dusty warehouses and climate-sensitive lots. Traditional scanners are usually vulnerable to extreme environments and might not be the best choice for such conditions. If the environment is too dusty or too cold, your scanning device might not be able to withstand the elements and start acting up. There are semi-rugged and fully rugged scanners available on the market, designed to withstand harsh conditions, temperature variance and dust particles. Unfortunately, they are really expensive and inflate the total cost of ownership. Mobile phones, however, work perfectly in every environment and are less prone to technical issues than dedicated scanning hardware.
No Configuration Required
Another added advantage of using smartphone scanners is that they require no prior configuration with other devices. The traditional scanning devices however, need to be integrated with desktop computers. Consequently, they are vulnerable to technical issues related to configuration. In addition, the troubleshooting process is often very tedious and adds to the downtime of the entire process. You might also need to hire costly experts to keep these devices running. In the case of phone-based scanners, all you have to do is open whatever scanning application you are using, keep your hand steady, press the scanning button and voilà!
Scanning in Bulk
Most of the traditional handheld scanners can only scan one label at a time which greatly slows down the tagging and logging process. Smartphone based scanners, on the other hand, can take on multiple labels. This boosts productivity and makes the process as many times faster as the number of labels it is capable of scanning in one go. The limit, however, depends upon the application you are using. There are scanning applications that let you scan as many 20 or 25 labels at one time, and the processing doesn’t take much time either.
EZOfficeInventory and Smartphone Scanners
Considering the advantages smartphone based scanners have over traditional scanning devices, we at EZOfficeInventory provide smartphone-based barcode and QR code scanning right through our software.You can scan as many as 25 labels in one go, all without the need to install a separate scanning application. To learn more about how to use barcodes and QR codes using EZOfficeInventory, click here. If you’d like to explore best practices for QR code or barcode scanning, you can do so here.