HLG Products & Functions Technical & Industry Thoughts

Leveraging AIT – It all Begins with the Label

When I first got involved with Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) in 1989 as a District Manager for Intermec Technologies, my Media Specialist at the time drilled in the importance of the label (thanks Clark!) and its role on how it all works. It didn’t take long for me to completely understand what he meant.

While our livelihood as an organization was based on selling hardware items that each brought thousands of dollars in revenue, the foundation for those investments was an item that cost a fraction of a cent. That is the cost for a barcode tag that would be printed or scanned by the hardware we wanted ultimately to sell to a customer.


Can a Fraction of a Penny Impact my Bottom Line?!

In fact, that fraction of a cent can impact an organization’s bottom line. Think about it – an organization’s ability to accurately report finances, plan and manage operations and more, relies on data.

The basis of all AIT based solutions is about:

  • Ease – how fast and easy is it to capture the data I need
  • Accuracy – the reliability that the data I capture is trustworthy
  • Timelyquickest way to communicate the data to the systems that require it

There is also the flipside that manual challenges offer when AIT is not utilized:

  • Cumbersome – must hand write the data I need to get for processing
  • Risk of Error – hard to get all of the data into a system without any errors
  • Age of Data delays getting data delivered and recorded in systems for use

It quickly becomes apparent as to why AIT has had such a successful history and continues to grow today. It is also clear why the use of a barcode label or RFID tag is such a critical component of this value for any organization. With that being said, why then is it that the labeling portion of most projects we’re involved is given a secondary seat at the table?

A recent example we had on the value and interest of barcode labeling came from a call we had the other day with our partner, MobileDemand. MobileDemand has been a premier provider of rugged Windows tablets for over 20 years. Understanding the criticality of the barcode with the AIT functions of their tablets, they decided to add a “no cost” Barcode Generator tool to their website to help their prospects and customers with their specific projects labeling needs. During our call, they shared how they have been pleasantly surprised by the high level of interest and traffic their online tool has driven on their website – from all over the world.


The Value of Solid Foundations

We’ve discussed before the foundations to a successful project and that the plan and execution often have a value many times higher than the overall software or hardware functionality. It’s not what you own, but your ability to use it for its intended purposes that matter. That is why whether it’s a warehouse or asset project, we know that the label is key to AIT success. So we spend considerable time on all of the labeling components and include them as part of the project’s critical path.

That is also why in our mobilePLUS solution we looked at this requirement and where we could add value from a mobile standpoint. This lead us to the creation of utilities such as recording a new tag for an item or retagging a missing or damaged existing tag and new applications such as Mass Retag. Mass Retag offers a quick approach for bulk conversion of all items to new labels – barcode or RFID – that can easily be performed by User with a mobile device.

Our goal was to insure that the auditing or surveying activity could be completed easily with the highest confidence for accuracy. When you’re dealing with item/asset inventories that cost from the hundreds of millions to over a billion dollars the accuracy of labeling can have a huge ripple effect.


Sometimes it Really is the Little Things

A number of industry and market experts have universally expressed the value they believe our tagging capabilities bring to clients in their automation efforts. It never ceases to amaze people how something so little, like a barcode label, can have a profound influence on a business – and by extension, its profits.

Do you have some labeling challenges or questions? If you have additional interest in this how our capabilities can work in your organization, please let me know.



Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management and warehouse solutions. He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology.