The 4th industrial revolution
Ever since its first revolution in 1800, the industrial sector has continually developed new approaches to make production, transportation, and communication between the divisions faster and more efficient. In 2020, we are facing the fourth industrial revolution, leading us towards a connected environment of data, processes, people, services, and systems. To leverage the network, companies need to optimize every aspect of their value chain and find digital solutions that allow flawless communication between customers, suppliers, and the internal points of intersection.
Barcodes: The link in a digitized value chain
When creating a fully digitalized workflow, the two following factors are crucial for success:
- Real-time data exchange
- Products become part of the network
Industry 4.0 does not just describe networking between people. It displays a model in which products, as well as machines, are linked with each other. They can communicate, to a certain extent, even without human support.
This system is called the “Internet of Things.” To construct such a system, one has to make every product part of the digital process. The most convenient way to achieve this goal is the implementation of barcodes in the process.
Integration of barcodes into the digital workflow
Incorporating barcode technology bears various benefits regarding business process management. Modern types of barcodes, such as PDF417, or Data Matrix, are the most beneficial solution for the company’s use case. They can be engraved into items, and accordingly represent a robust long-term identification. One could call this a “digital fingerprint,” which is thus given to objects.
The journey of a car part and numerous opportunities through barcodes
The following example of a car radiator is going to display the different use cases of a barcode attached to an item. In this particular case, a Data Matrix code is engraved directly onto the article to guarantee great readability throughout the whole process.
- Production: The Data Matrix barcode is engraved onto the product and takes up only a few square millimeters. The code is unique for each individual product.
- Distribution: It is possible to gain insight into the whole distribution process within a few seconds. It becomes easy to provide the buyer with information regarding the inventory, delivery time, etc.
- Arrival at the car repair shop: The part can be registered quickly.
- Finding the right component: If a customer demands the repair of their radiator, the staff can quickly scan the barcode on the broken part to access information about the product’s whole life-circle. Known issues of a particular batch can easily be identified, and extended warranties can be granted. Finding a suitable replacement is easy, and if the demanded item is not in store, an order can be placed immediately, with a direct response regarding the estimated delivery time.
- Working with the component: Once the mechanics have access to the required radiator, they can scan the engraved barcode to receive information regarding the installation. Additionally, they can ensure that the item is correct once more by looking at the given product information. Compared to paper, all of this knowledge is accessible in real-time and can be updated at any time. This is especially relevant since parts become more “intelligent” and need calibration to work correctly.
Benefits for the manufacturer
Apart from the previously mentioned advantages, one can imagine the impact on the whole value chain by looking at the further possibilities of a digital network based on barcodes:
- The ID of the defected part can be forwarded to the car manufacturer, who will then be able to categorize it based on its manufacturing date. This information can simply be accessed by scanning the Data Matrix code. If a high number of complaints are received regarding products manufactured in the same batch, a production defect can be identified automatically. And since you can track where every part was used, you can replace parts proactively.
- If a particularly high demand for a product is detected, the manufacturer can react to it quickly, because of the immediate data exchange.
These points guarantee a stable supply process and provide an efficient way to determine current demand by digitalizing and crosslinking different intersections within the value chain.
How to connect people with data
The mobile revolution is affecting industries in every sector, and tablets are the new standard. They are robust, independent devices, which are connected and offer apps for every need. One of the most useful features is the integrated camera, which is not only useful for documentation purposes. Modern technologies like Scanner SDKs turn them into flexible scanning solutions for documents and barcodes.
By integrating a smart Barcode Scanner SDK into a mobile app, one can incorporate a scanning functionality into the existing workflow smoothly. You can instantly access the information of every machine and part. Since tablets are less prone to damage and cheaper than traditional hand scanners or PCs, they provide the perfect alternative to previously used tools.
The on-demand scanning capabilities of the Scanbot Barcode Scanner SDK allow real-time data exchange between all concerned parties of the value chain, such as service, development, or production.
Implementing a barcode scanner into an already existing app takes only a few business days with the Scanbot SDK. After the integration, the scanning feature can be used on any mobile device with a camera. A customizable user interface leads even inexperienced users into the right scanning positions within seconds. Of course, all common barcode types are supported.