Need help with finding a suitable inventory control barcode system for a frame repair business

by RobiTad. Posted on Sep 13, 2020    2    7

Who we are

I work for a small business in the UK who supplies optician practices with frame repairs. Our day to day working environment is based around receiving packaged glasses from optical companies that we work with all around the country (UK). We open those packages and within them the frames and repair forms that we provide our customers with. These order forms include name of the practice, their account number with us, our reference number and a section where they're able to include notes for our workshop department to deal with.

The problem

We currently sort out all of our incoming orders into colour coded trays depending on the company, whether they're part of a billing group, independent opticians or part of a large company with multiple branches. Once they're into colour coded trays we put them on a shelf where our technicians handle the repairs.

We have been using google sheets to record all of our orders.

This includes:

- Date the order came in

- Name of practice

- Account number

- Order reference number

- Date the order was dispatched back to business

The problem is that this takes quite a long time which doesn't allow me and my colleague to focus on other tasks. We have been hoping to find a suitable inventory bar code system that allows us to record the orders that have come in where the system can do the following:

- Automatically and/or manually record data such as order reference, name of customer, account number.

- Allow the use to book in and book out orders

- Allow us to find details about the order, notes they sent with is (for example, fix a specific part of the frame) just by scanning a bar coded tray.

In summary, we want a system where we can use bar codes on our colour coded trays and immediately access all the information required (practice name, repair notes, account number) for that specific tray.

We also use Sage50 to do all of our account-related priorities including invoices therefore if there's a system where it can be implemented with Sage50 that would be most preferred. If not, any system that can do the tasks that we require would be much appreciated.


bkdlays 2

I'd look into RFID instead. You could use a reusable (or not) tag on every item coming in. It would be scanned during each process automatically tracking it's progress.

  RobiTad 1

Whats the main differences between using an RFID compared to using barcodes?

bkdlays 1

RFID is basically the future of barcodes imo. RFID can be passive. It can be scanned without even seeing the item. You can put a receiver in a certain place and everything that moved there would be scanned and have its location status updated etc. The tags are very inexpensive and are pre-made so you just apply them to whatever you want. They could be placed on bins that the glasses stay in or they could be attached to the eyeglasses themselves.

onedough 2

Looks like your problems start even before you have the packaged frames in you hands. They should all be done online instead of on paper. The packages should only include a reference to that online form.

So you can create a set of instructions to fill out the form online, this can include a QR code that is in each box. Once the customer scans the qr code with their phone you can start keeping track of each order details in real time. This should eliminate the need to manually put in details once the package is in your hands.

IMHO this whole process you described can be done on the cloud. Just need to rethink the process from even before you get the package.

  RobiTad 1

This is a great idea in theory for our bigger opticians, however for the independent ones this would be an issue as most of them are older people and they struggle just to use a mobile phone and converting to an online system could confuse them and or put them off, when we stopped using bank checks they had issues changing as they are so old fashioned.

onedough 2

We have something called resilient design in web design. This involves using the new tools that only a few browsers can use with a fallback of the old stuff for the older browsers, and in phases you eventually remove the old designs whenever browsers are all capable of displaying the new stuff.

There’s nothing wrong with starting something new even if the older generation doesn’t get it. You just need to start and give them a fallback to use the forms. Maybe at first only 50-60% use the new online forms and find it easier to manage. Then over i say a year you make it clear to phase out the paper forms with only online.

Essentially what you will have done is remove half of the paper you would have had to sort right off the bat. With the other half yeah sure you could implement a barcode color coded box system, but it would seem like a temporary bandaid fix vs an actual solution.

  RobiTad 1

Thats actually a pretty smart way of going about it essentially we want to make everything as efficient as we can so we dont have to waste time sorting out all the orders and inputting them separately into our google docs. Having an online form where people would be able to fill it out and it gives them a QR code would be pretty neat i think.