Published here July 2023.

What is a Barcode? | Bar Codes Generally
Are Bar Codes Relevant to Project Management?

What is a Barcode?

A barcode is a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form. Specifically, barcodes are used to encode product information in the form of bars and similar characters. They were originally developed for ringing up items at the cash register of a store, or to track inventory at a warehouse for example.

Besides ease and speed, other major business benefits include improved accuracy, better inventory control, and savings of cost and time. Today, a further benefit is that a large amount of data can be stored in this way. For example, not only what the referenced product is, but its country of origin, manufacturer, quantity, price, expiry date, and so on.

Originally, such codes represented data by printing a set of vertical line of varying widths and spacing . Such displays can then read by a suitable code reader, thus reducing the risk of visual reading errors. Of course, that assumes that the code was correctly entered in the first place!

More recently, these are now printed in both vertical and horizontal directions to facility quicker and easier reading by corresponding hand-held scanners. The result is not only a significant saving in time and cost for tracking all sorts of goods being shipped or placed in storage, but also a big reduction in errors of storage or misdirection in shipping, etc. Moreover, organizations can keep track of their size of inventory, location, and amount of storage space occupied.

Because the system is cheap, certainly in comparison with manual labor for the same job, it is easy to see how valuable such a setup can be in the world of project management production. This could start from keeping track of, say, drawings, to storage of supplies of materials and parts on small to large-scale construction sites — and similar such activities.


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