It is never too early to incorporate barcoding into your business practices as part of a WMS or barcode data-capture solution. If not for your own needs, consider adding a barcode label to your outbound products for your “downstream” customers who may be using some form of Warehouse Management System.
Recently, I had a partner contact me to inquire about including barcodes on documents such as SOP Pick Lists, Invoices, Purchase Orders, Packing Slips, and perhaps even Assembly or Manufacturing orders. His concern was how they could get print barcodes using a report program such as GP’s Report Writer. This process is actually very easy and can be accomplished in just a few minutes.
Bar codes are essentially a font, but they display information in a format that can be read electronically. For example, the same text “ABC123” is displayed in the left column below, while the font type is displayed on the right.
The first step to printing bar codes in your GP reports is to find a barcode True Type Font (TTF). For this we highly recommend the “Code 3of9” barcode, often called “Code 39” barcode font. While inventory barcodes printed on item labels often benefit from “Code 128” or even UPC barcodes, these have complicated check digits that can require you to write code that will allow them to be properly scanned.
Conversely, Code39 barcodes will allow you to encode all of the ASCII characters and requires only a start and stop character, like an asterisk * before and after the text. So, to create a barcode for item ABC123 you will need to input *ABC123* When the scanner reads the barcode it will only “see” ABC123. This is why if you take a scanner to the barcode example displayed in the table above, nothing will read. However, try the barcode below and it can be read. An app like Barcode Scanner (Android) can be used on your smartphone as well. (not all apps support code 39)
To achieve the proper display of characters, we will need to go into Report Writer and create a new formula field. ALT+F9 opens Report Writer, from there select the report to which you wish to add the barcode field. From the report definition box, select layout. When the report loads, navigate to the tool box and select “Calculated Fields” from the drop-down list. Next, select New and assign your field a name. In this case, we call it “PO#” with a result type of “String”. To create the field, we will use a constant “ “*” CAT STRIP(your field value) CAT “*” “. This will then look like the box below.
Including barcodes on Purchase Orders, Pick and Pack Lists, Manufacturing orders, or any other documents will further leverage the use of barcode technology in a warehouse. This is a simple way to add to the value of a WMS or Barcode Data Capture Solution.
If you are interested in trying this, but are not currently using an Embedded WMS such as Panatrack, you can download barcode apps onto most smartphones. (Note that not all apps will read the Code39 barcode type.) This will allow you to read the barcode and get a feel for customizing reports.