Counting your inventory before it hatches

Thinking about using an iPad or phone to scan your inventory?
“Saving” money with consumer grade phone cameras may cost you in the long run.

From UPC to QR codes, the omni-present black and white bands are everywhere. And, with the growth of smart phones, those funky lines and squares can be read by anyone. But, should that drive your bar code reading choice for your Maximo system? Probably not.

Bar Code Question Mark

Using a Smart phone to scan your inventory may not be very smart.

Why can’t I use my smart phone? Well, you can use your smart phone…or iPad, for certain asset management applications. I prefer using a rugged tablet for work orders and mapping. For quick approvals of work orders, a smart phone is great. I know: You’ve heard the argument about the cost of dropping and breaking a device. And yes, while there are cases that make iPads a little more rugged, they won’t make up for the down time when they do break.

But that’s not the total argument
Here’s something you may not have considered…try to scan with any type of speed with one of those devices and your going to find out the limitations of that snazzy device. You’ll see that cycle counting is going to take much longer than if you used a dedicated mobile scanning device.

Well, why is that?
The problem lies in the technology to capture the bar code. Smart phones, and by extension, iPads and other consumer grade tablets use their full color cameras to capture and interpolate the image. Plus, each time you snap that image, the camera needs to take a few seconds to auto-focus and take the picture. They also can blur, possibly misreading the scan, although it is more likely that it just won’t register and you have to repeat the effort again, which also translates into lost time and productivity.

Commercial grade scanners (and there are some built into rugged tablets), are designed specifically to read the black and white bars…or more to the point the white space between the bars. They capture the image quickly in one shot, because they don’t need to focus. Because they are designed specifically for reading bar codes, you can bet that performing a physical count of your inventory in Maximo is going to go much faster. And that’s not even taking into account bar codes on high shelves that your phone can’t see clearly

Maximo is an Enterprise level system. Doesn’t it make sense to use enterprise level equipment to make it as efficient as possible? You bet your sweet WONUM it does!

Kat Pullen is a Convergence Specialist at DataSplice, LLC, a mobile computing company founded in 2001 to deliver handheld technology to Maximo users in the field. One of her first gigs at DataSplice was hardware sales, and she’s heard a tale or two about bad bar code scanners.