Magazine Article | May 1, 2004

Labeling System Simplifies Complex Inventory Process

Source: Business Solutions Magazine
Business Solutions, May 2004

Skip Adolph, a materials manager for a Los Angeles high-tech research facility that handles hundreds of government contracts, is responsible for organizing, identifying, and tracking more than 8,000 items of a varied nature, from large equipment components to small piece parts. In addition, he receives and issues hundreds of material goods every day. Adolph needed to cut the amount of time he spent tracking his inventory, and, at the same time, improve the accuracy of his inventory counts. It was taking him five 8-hour days to inventory between 500 and 1,000 line items, and he could never be sure how accurate those counts were.

Adolph was using pre-made identification tags and labels to keep track of his equipment and materials, but they weren't adequately meeting his needs. The off-the-shelf tags and labels only worked on applications of a standard nature, such as commercially available test and measurement equipment or computers and power supplies. Adolph wanted a way to track and identify nonstandard materials. "I am constantly faced with the challenge of separating property that arrives in an endless variety of configurations," he says. "It's either too small, too delicate, or too awkward in shape or size for the standard identification device."

Customizable Labels Identify, Track Nonstandard Items
Adolph purchased the Brother (Bridgewater, NJ) P-touch Labeling System to help manage his complex inventory. The P-touch system creates labels in almost any variety and in any color or size. Now Adolph designs and prints custom-made labels for each of his nonstandard equipment and supplies. He can even make laminated labels that hold up under the conditions of the heat testing labs and labels that work in clean-room environments (e.g. microchip fabrication plants).

Adolph uses the P-touch system's bar code capability to create unique bar codes for each item he needs to track. Now, instead of having to go to his office to check his paper records every time someone asks him for information on a part, Adolph can enter a bar code number on a scanner and access all the information about the item, including where it is located in the facility. Adolph estimates this capability has cut his receiving and processing time by 30%. More importantly, he is confident that his inventories are up-to-date and accurate at all times.

By combining the printer's bar code feature with his own software, Adolph devised a system to track all of the equipment and materials every company employee is using at any given time - and where on the company's campus it is being used. This capability has cut Adolph's inventory-taking time dramatically. "Before I implemented the P-touch system, it would take a full workweek to count 500 to 1,000 items," explains Adolph. "Now, I can inventory between 2,000 and 3,000 line items in half that time."