3 Quick Tips to Improve your Warehouse Barcode Labels

Barcode labels play a critical role in most warehouses. Whether they are product labels, bin location labels, picking labels, or address labels for shipping and transport, the majority are printed in the warehouse using thermal label printers. These simple and easy-to-implement warehouse barcode label tips can have a big impact on your warehouse efficiency and provide immediate benefits.

...1. Error-proof the printing of barcodes on labels by changing the barcode orientation to 'ladder-format'.

Many warehouses print barcode labels through 100mm wide desk-top thermal label printers. Often the labels have been designed to have the barcode print like a 'picket-fence' as it comes out of the printer. The issue with printing the barcode in this orientation, is that if a pixel in the printhead blows and creates a line down the label, it could turn one black bar of the code into two black bars and one white bar and result in a failed barcode. By changing the layout of the label to a landscape design, and ensuring the barcode prints in a ladder format (like a ladder) as it comes out of the front of the printer you will protect the integrity of the barcode. This way should pixels in the printhead fail, the result will still be lines through the barcode, but they won't be interpreted by a scanner as part of the code, and the barcode will still scan.

...2. Consider changing from 'roll' form labels to 'fan-fold' if you print labels in batches.

Many warehouses print batches of labels through label printers using roll-form labels i.e. labels are produced in a roll. These labels often spill all over the floor and then a team member has to spend time rolling them up and sorting them. Alternatively, labels can be purchased in a fan-fold format, which when printed will fan-fold back into a neat stack which is quick and simple to collect and sort. If you add a cutter to the printer, you can program the printer cut at certain intervals to allow for even faster sorting. Then, when you take the printed stack of fan-fold labels and tilt it sideways it will split at the cut location into the differing bundles. This is a simple way to save time in a non-value-add process.

...3. Adopt mobile printing technology for just-in-time labelling at the point of picking.

Mobile label printing can reduce potential errors and boost warehouse efficiency. Having team members go to central labelling stations to print and collect labels can lead to a lot of wasted time: time-in-motion to get the labels, waiting-time while team members talk at the printer as well as potential errors with the wrong label from a pre-printed batch of labels being applied to a picked product. A simple way to improve this is to consider mobile label printers and move to labelling just-in-time when you pick the item. Printing of the label can be triggered from a variety of devices, e.g. from a simple iPod Touch through to ruggedized mobile computers.