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Scanned, Sealed and Delivered: Barcode Scanning for Accuracy

POSTED BY: Ashley Little on 05.9.2014

scannedsealedanddelivered_barcode_scanningThe now ubiquitous alternating thick-and-thin lines of the standard barcode first appeared in supermarkets in the early 1960’s, but barcode history reaches back even further. The first patent for a bar code type product was issued to inventors Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver on October 7, 1952[1]. You would not recognize it today; this first version looked much more like a television test pattern than the modern number-and-line system. By 1970, the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code or UGPIC was written, and the scan-a-thon was on in supermarkets across the U.S. Today, there are five commonly used barcode types, from EAN to UPC, ITF to the more modern QR code.[2] Each offers a number of standard benefits.

Barcodes make large numbers of items machine-readable and able to be cataloged. They nearly eliminate the possibility for human error in reading a number incorrectly or transposing a symbol. They are also accurate and easily loaded into a database, making record keeping fast and efficient.

For sure, the same reasons barcodes were a boon to the grocery industry are the ones that make them great choice for aiding in the physical audit of utility poles. Here are a few reasons we find barcodes valuable:

Barcodes are fast. Using barcodes gives you the ability to speed up the physical audit of your utility pole assets and improve the accuracy of pole maintenance and third party attachment records, whether you choose a serialized system or a custom one.

Barcodes reduce mistakes. Using barcodes with scanners takes human keying error out of the equation. A person reading numbers can easily make an error, wheras a scanner enforces consistency every time.

Barcodes are versatile. Using barcodes, you can create an electronic inventory record database for each audit or maintenance activity performed in conjunction with the barcoded assets, such as utility poles. In addition, updates to data fields such as current attachments, pole condition and date of inspection can be synchronized back to your database. 

Barcodes create an indelible pole history. A barcode system provides each utility pole with a unique digital identifier (UniqueID), eliminating misidentification of assets such as utility poles with respect to maintenance activity and attachment data. Think of it as an evidence chain of custody. Barcodes will also allow future inspectors and auditors to access historical data for each asset, making the process manageable across a pole’s lifetime.

Barcodes work well with joint use management software. Combining new software technology results in more efficiency, less hassle and better data with which to manage your business.

Barcodes work in any weather. Barcode labels are manufactured for any type of environment and are available in a variety of durable materials such as vinyl and aluminum. 

The barcode is a versatile crossover piece of technology. From the grocery cart to the countryside, using them on products and poles creates accuracy, eliminates error and speeds process. Are you using barcodes to identify your assets? If not, it’s time to consider a barcode system for asset tracking.


[1] http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventions/a/Bar-Codes.htm

[2] http://www.scandit.com/2011/11/04/types-of-barcodes-choosing-the-right-barcode-type-ean-upc-code128-itf-14-or-code39/

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Topics: Utility Asset Management

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