Barcodes in construction

Barcodes are commonplace these days.  You find them everywhere from the side of a can of beans to the boxes delivered to your door.  High Street retailers use them all the time and yet they are not common on construction sites. Why is this?

There are some good reasons.  Shops, warehouses  and distribution centres are, by and large, clean and dry places.   The goods and locations in a warehouse are all in neat piles and, where at all possible, packaged in rectangular boxes or sealed plastic bags.  I’m sure you will have noticed how a certain online retailer loves to deliver everything in neat cardboard boxes, even if it means delivering a lot of free air in the process,  In these circumstances barcodes have a nice flat place to live.  They are going to stay clean and dry.  This is the kind of world that barcodes like best.  And even here the simple 1 dimension barcode is used in preference to the more complicated and hence, more fragile 2D codes.

1D barcode

A 1 dimensional or 1D Code

A QR code, a type of 2D code

Unfortunately a construction site is not such a friendly place for bar codes.  The nature of many items, such as their size or shape means that there is often no good place to locate a barcode. Rough handling, exposure to weather, and other factors mean that barcodes can be torn, damaged or lost.  What do you code?  That single truss or assembly?  That bag or box? The pallet , container or stillage?

In some cases suppliers will put a barcode on their materials.  However Supplier 1 may use a different code for exactly the same item , as Supplier 2.  Supplier 1 might even use the same code as Supplier 2 but for something completely different!  And of course some things are assemblies, unique to a particular project.

In some circumstances barcodes, or their high tech cousin, RFID tags have a place.  For example hired tools or equipment often have codes to identify exactly what they are and where they came from.

So can anything be done? Zone Manager is trying.  Rather than trying to track individual items Zone Manager makes use of barcodes to track deliveries. Every delivery has a unique code and this can be printed on the ‘Site Permit’ form and can even be included in the confirmation email sent to the contractors or hauliers.

On presentation of this code at the gate a security operator can scan into Zone Manager and this will immediately identify the delivery, whether its late or early and where the materials are headed.  If the permit is placed in a plastic pocket it can stay with the delivered goods, at least until the package starts being broken down.  Scanning the barcode will show what delivery the materials came on and how long they have been sitting there.

Small steps maybe, but it is a start.  the Logistics Business has wide experience in the use and application of barcodes in many industries. If you want to find out how the Logistics Business and Zone Manager can help you integrate barcodes into your project contact us on  0345 222 9902 or using this link