AML Blog - The Scan

Small Business Manufacturers and Barcoding: What You Should Know

Small business manufacturers have a few different reasons for not instituting the use of barcodes. Some might not see how barcodes can increase the profitability of their businesses. Others might not understand how barcodes work, and think implementing a barcode system would be a daunting task. Regardless of the reason, these businesses are missing out on a higher level of efficiency, productivity, and quality that a barcode system and mobile handheld scanner could provide.

Barcodes should be embraced, not feared. The expense of the investment and the time required to implement a system will both be worth it in the end. In order to illustrate the benefits of the barcode, let’s take a look at the who, what, where, when, and why of a barcoding system.


Even though this blog will focus on the small-to-mid-size manufacturer, any company that utilizes an inventory should implement a barcode system. If your business purchases raw materials and produces a finished product, barcodes will increase your efficiency and save you money.

There are a few different types of barcoding technologies available to small business manufacturers:

  1. Corded barcode scanners: This type of barcode scanner is the simplest and, at less than $100, the least expensive way to begin barcoding. It connects to a computer through a USB port and can easily replace the keyboard for data entry.
  2. Batch handheld computers: This is a mobile barcode scanner that allows users to scan whole sections of inventory without being tethered to a server. Once you are done scanning, the Batch Handheld Computer can be connected to a computer and the data can be uploaded.
  3. Wireless handheld computers: A wireless handheld computer is the same as a batch handheld computer, except it has a Wi-Fi radio. This allows your barcode scanner to link wirelessly to a server. As soon as an item is scanned, it can be seen in the inventory or accounting system.

Before any barcode scanners can be used, a business must introduce barcodes to the inventory. How, exactly, are barcodes introduced to the inventory? It starts at the receiving dock. If barcodes are printed and applied to the inventory when they are received, your entire inventory will eventually have barcodes.


When to implement a barcoding system greatly depends on the organization and the type of technology being deployed. A more complex system will take a lot more time and planning than a system using corded barcode scanners vs a mobile handheld scanner.


Your business can implement a barcoding system wherever accurate data entry is required:

  • Cycle counting
  • Physical counts
  • Receiving
  • Picking
  • Material transfers

In addition to inventory, barcode labels can also be applied directly to documents.

  • Job tracking for work-in-progress applications
  • Time cards
  • Tool room check in/check out
  • Serial number/lot code tracking

A barcode system keeps a business from making errors, and it does so by helping manufacturing run much more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Scanning one barcode with a mobile handheld scanner might only save a few seconds, but those seconds add up over time.

Barcode technology isn’t just for the corporate enterprises anymore. It’s available and affordable to organizations of all sizes. With proper planning, any business can benefit from a barcode system.

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