Back in 1949, Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland, developed a system of symbology to identify items subsequently patented as “Bar-Code”. Of course it wasn’t until 1969 that John Kiedel while working for General Altronics developed a “reader” and bar code was born.
The early adapter of this technology was the food and grocery industry with the setting of the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code which we know today as UPC.
The intent was simple, we have lots of items with thousands of transactions and we need to record without errors. A simple label and scanner allow us to do that. Trivia note: the first item to receive a UPC bar code was Wrigley’s Gum.
In the 70’s and 80’s the implementation in the manufacturing and distribution industry was mostly item identification. Simply put, instead of entering a part number it was scanned in. Aerospace, Safety and FDA requirements broadened the application with the requirement for recording of lot and serial numbers. This is textbook passive data collection.
When MSC entered the market our original focus was just that, record time, material movement and lot/serial information on the factory floor. But as we built out our applications we soon realized that we could do more, since we had our own server working in conjunction with the ERP server. One of our first really large clients was an automotive parts producer and as such required support of 24/7 operations. However the ERP in residence required a total user shutdown just to do a nightly backup. One other complication, all the shop floor users were Vietnamese. We configured COLLECT® in such a way that we had enough data redundancy that the ERP could actually be made unavailable for a shift or more, without interrupting activities on the plant floor. Language was definable by user logon, so we could support several languages on a single site. COLLECT®, advanced to where we were now able to customize data flow and business rules in our application. Soon customers were looking to reduce key stokes, scans, etc., by deploying business rules to assist. This is active data collection.
The entry of micro processors in the handheld device now moved into intelligent machines. In recent years we have integrated in measuring machines, scales, product line reporting devices and food ingredient silos. Now we didn’t even need an employee to scan something, for example capturing issues for baking ingredients directly from the measuring device installed on a silo.
As our customer base became more and more involved in distribution and directed activities, our WMS was now managing the utilization of space, rotation of stock, and activities of warehouse personnel. Today our independent design allows us to be fully engaged in providing applications with business logic not available in the legacy ERP system. We are able to implement unique inventory allocation rules to support FIFO, FEFO, customer specific material sourcing etc. Warehouse personnel are directed to located specific locations in the warehouse. Handheld devices in use in the warehouse are able to communicate real time to shipping systems such as UPS and
FedEx while appropriately labeling material as well as updating customer service with tracking data.
Today our Supply Chain Execution offerings have come a long way from the simple item identification originally thought of by Silver and Woodland. Using the latest in label, equipment and logic technologies we are able to engineer creative solutions to a wide variety of business issues.