Inventory management is a crucial part of running a profitable and efficient manufacturing facility. Companies generally strive to have plenty of raw materials on hand so that they never have to stop production because a key component is missing. On the other hand, inventory is money, there’s a cost to buying raw materials and an ongoing cost to store them. Knowing which materials are on hand, and where they are, makes it easier to maintain that balance. Once production starts, companies want to know where in the production process all of their materials are. Additionally, when it comes to finished products, it’s best to know how many are ready, where they are, and who they’re for.
Fortunately, modern technology makes inventory management much easier than it used to be. Contour B.V., a company based in the Netherlands, fully illustrates this claim. While some companies turn to technology only when their manual inventory management processes became unmanageable, Contour takes a proactive approach, constantly seeking out new and better ways to run their production facilities.
Contour produces thin sheet metal engineered to specific customer requirements, offering solutions to its customers for every step of the process, from design to production. Because of the precision required in the manufacturing processes, as well as a dedication to always improving efficiency and customer service, Contour B.V. understands the value technology delivers. The company, which was already using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for monitoring and controlling production, wanted to take the next step by updating the scanners that work alongside this system.
“We jointly came to the conclusion that Datalogic’s PowerScan™ imager and Datalogic STAR Cordless System™ technology would be the ideal solution,” says Wim GerritsThe requirements First, however, they had to identify what the right solution would look like. As Ralf Körver, System Manager at Contour, explains, “The scanning equipment had to provide industrial durability and be highly reliable. A scanner with a display that could provide feedback to the user was fundamental. It should include only a few buttons to press for easy use by the operators.”
As stated by Körver, the most important criteria were durability, reliability, and ease of use.
- While retail scanners typically have it relatively easy, scanners used in factories and warehouses take a lot of abuse. Contour needed a scanner that could hold up to being bumped, dropped, and stepped on.
- Employees can’t stop the production line to repeatedly scan a poorly printed barcode or enter a code by hand. Contour needed a scanner that would do the job right the first time, under tough conditions.
- Scanners are supposed to make the job easier, not harder. Contour needed a scanner that was easy to use: ergonomic, adaptable, and easily verified.
With those requirements in mind, Contour asked Vierpool B.V., a Datalogic partner, to help them find the best solution. Together, the two companies took a deep look into Contour’s production processes, ordering processes, inventory changes, and employee time tracking. Once both had a holistic insight into the company’s operations and an understanding of the available options, they arrived at a solution: Datalogic. “We jointly came to the conclusion that Datalogic’s PowerScan™ imager and Datalogic STAR Cordless System™ technology would be the ideal solution,” says Wim Gerrits, Identification Account Manager at VierPool B.V.
The PowerScan imager easily satisfied Contour’s requirements:
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- With a drop resistance of up to 6.5 feet, the PowerScan imager is the most durable barcode scanner of its kind.
- The imager’s superior reading performance delivers reliable scans even with poorly printed or damaged codes. This increases efficiency by reducing the time spent rescanning and/or entering codes by hand.
- With the ability to scan at arm’s length and a clear “good scan” indicator, the PowerScan makes it easy for Contour employees to consistently scan every item without slowing down production.
In addition, the Datalogic STAR Cordless System network technology made it possible to set up a narrow-band frequency area so that workers could use the scanners throughout the facility.
Today, Contour uses the PowerScan imager both on the production line and in the warehouse. During production, the imager keeps track of components as they go through each phase, helping operators maintain a steady flow while carefully tracking all materials. In the warehouse, employees use the PowerScan imager to manage stock, giving Contour continuous insight into the exact quantity of raw materials, semi-finished products, and finished products they have available.
In today’s competitive environment, businesses have to make the most of every asset they have, including time. An inventory management system helps businesses control costs and increase efficiencies by offering constant insight into what they have on hand and where it is.
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