Supply Chain Integrity
Captain Obvious has things to say to the supply chain.
Who is in the Supply Chain business?
First, who is in the supply chain business? Everybody is in the supply chain business. Some of us are in the front, supply side, outbound end of it. Others are in the middle, retrieving source shipments, moving and breaking them down, getting them to their destination. Everybody—those at the front end, those in the middle and those at and after delivery—depends on the supply chain.
Second, what is the most important single component in supply chain operations? What makes it work, keeps it working and holds it together? The chain analogy is apt: there are a lot of moving parts, links, some stronger than others. There are ERP, inventory and other systems, databases, logistics operations and vehicle fleets. There are conveyors, scanners and people—lots of them.
What is the Most Important Link in the Supply Chain?
There are many types forms of scanners: lasers, CCD’s and camera devices in handheld and fixed mounted form. There are long-range and close range models. Some are old, others are new. Some have had a hard life of drops, bumps and scrapes. Environments range from classified cleanrooms to dusty, dirty, greasy, oily, solvent-drenched work spaces.
Of all of these circumstances and factors, what holds it all together? The humble barcode.
Extraordinary times make extraordinary demands. Even, or perhaps especially essential businesses are stressed. Operating with limited on-site staff even as demand for what they do or what they make may be skyrocketing—they must not skip a beat. Barcodes are the connective tissue that keeps it together.
Third, barcodes must work right. A lot of rhetoric has cast barcodes as the “weak link.” Someday that may be proven. However, for the past 45 years, nothing has emerged that equals the accuracy, reliability, robustness and infinitesimal cost of the barcode.
Furthermore, the cost of ensuring high barcode performance is negligible. The ownership cost of a barcode verifier is a fraction of the cost of a single quality problem in most supply chains, not to mention the intangible cost of damaged confidence between trading partners.
What is More Important? Technology or Quality?
Barcode quality is important—now more than ever. Scanners do not obsolete or replace the need for barcode quality. Super-aggressive scanners are more prone to inaccurately decoding bad barcodes. Extracting the wrong information from a barcode is far worse than failing to decode it altogether. Super-aggressive scanners can be a very expensive, stealthy problem.
The best solution is measured, known quality against a global standard. Always, and now more than ever.
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