[thelist] OT: Barcode scanners and hardware inventory

Andrew Seguin asegu_evolt at borgtech.ca
Tue Mar 23 20:49:24 CST 2004

Something that that just made me remember... I think Intermec provides
some software/printer driver for free that could allow you to print bar
code labels on a regular printer from within say excel/access... maybe not
as practical as a dedicated label bar code printer, but could be helpful

When I stop by the office again on thursday or friday I'll double check my
downloads from Intermec to see if I had anything noted. In mean time you
could always look through their site at intermec.com... just to see.


> One possibility that could be low-cost and interesting...
> Have you seen the Cue:Cat?
> It's a simple barcode scanner that Radio Shack was giving a way a while
> ago.
> You can probably find one without too much effort.
> You could scan product barcodes and be taken to the manufacturer's
> website...
> I think they are available in both PS/2 and USB versions.
> They can be modified to provide a text input of the barcode you scan
> there is a bunch of information about them online.  for example:
> http://cexx.org/cuecat.htm
> This opens a lot of possibilities.  On the simple side, you could use
> it to read UPC #'s into a spreadsheet, text file, etc.
> Or you could code a little application, maybe a simple PHP/MySQL app
> running on a laptop.
> If you develop something functional, consider open sourcing it, as
> others would likely find it useful.
> HTH,
> --
> David
> On Mar 23, 2004, at 1:15 PM, Andrew Seguin wrote:
>>> We are in the process of moving our office and to help with inventory
>>> and
>>> tracking (for both hardware and furniture) I would like to implement
>>> the
>>> use
>>> of a barcode scanner.  The questions that I have are:
>>> 1) has anyone used this technology before for this purpose
>> Well, me... I used to take care of inventory where I work, at least
>> until
>> web dev/web server maintenance for the intranet took over as full time
>> work ;)
>> During my time, our office purchased a bar code printer and two bar
>> code
>> readers.
>>> 2) do you have any suggestions on brands/packages/services/etc
>> I only know of Intermec's products, as the buying was not left up to
>> me.
>> Another office in a different city went for different kit. The
>> hardware we
>> got was good, the software that comes prepackaged freely was far from
>> super although the software they sold, and that I saw in use at another
>> site, seemed fair but it was expensive to license.
>>> 3) is it possible to customize the interface for the software in
>>> terms of
>>> what we can track
>> Well, in general just as is, the bar code readers won't come with
>> inventory software unless you buy a kit I guess. Us, here, simply made
>> our
>> own software to run on the hand held...
>> Some bar code scanners simply interface via keyboard port (a bar code
>> after all is just an encoding mechanism, nothing magical), they are
>> probably less expensive, but you will be limited to carrying around a
>> laptop of PC with you. On the good side, they'll work with whatever
>> software you make buy, even a simple web based application (there was a
>> thread a while back on Evolt seems to me about that .. or maybe the PHP
>> mailing list..).
>> Otherwise, there are some like we bought, which are actual little
>> computers, LCD display and connect to the PC via a serial cable (ours
>> are
>> Antares 2410 if I remember the model correctly). Even better, superior
>> to
>> ours, there are some with networking via RF. Of course, cost increases
>> for
>> these. These more powerful ones though might also be harder to
>> interface
>> with software from other companies, or may even almost require custom
>> made
>> software (for the price, it was simpler and cheaper for us to make
>> small
>> software to work with CSVs that are transfered around).
>>> Any input would be greatly appreciate!
>> Well, I don't know how big your office is, but...
>> The bar code equipment cost us several thousand dollars to purchase,
>> and
>> then one week of my time programming (one weeks salery) before getting
>> it
>> all to work, couple more weeks of on/off work to complete it.
>> It was about two months before our site was fully using it, even now,
>> with
>> our offices spread over three buildings/25floors... it isn't always
>> that
>> great a bonus for us. What works best for us is simply keeping track of
>> serial numbers and doing quick inspections every now and then by a
>> local
>> IT tech.
>> I finaly ended up making an online form where the techs enter their
>> info
>> about any repairs, movements, etc. The person replacing me on inventory
>> can then view the submitted forms. Also, she can quickly simply
>> 'return'
>> the form to the user for corrections and moves via this system.
>> Although it has only been in use for two weeks now, this system has
>> generated a lot more support from the techs, then the bar code scanners
>> over the space of 6months. The reason I think, is that it is quicker to
>> submit changes to those takeing care of the inventory databases this
>> way
>> then to use the bar code scanners.
>> While I considered automizing the system via a web app, from my
>> experience
>> on inventory, miskeyed information happens much too frequently (both
>> by me
>> and the techs), so we ended up with incorrect labels and/or incorrect
>> information in our database. Laziness is also a factor that was hard to
>> work around... tagging thousands of items (PCs, printers, etc) gets
>> dreary.
>> Continuing in the field of inventory though, I would say that if you
>> are
>> in the process of moving, considering implementing an inventory system,
>> then it could be a good thing if you are truly ready to invest some
>> time
>> to get it all working well. You could have the computers fully
>> inspected
>> upon packing/unpacking.
>> A few good things would be good to keep marked down for your
>> equipement is
>> basicaly age, warrenty information(or contract #s, or where to find,
>> etc..), and quantifiable qualities (like processor speed&ram for PCs,
>> screen size for monitors, etc).
>> Inventory for us is not really to make sure the location is correct
>> (well,
>> we try to keep that up to date, especialy for empty cubicles), but
>> more to
>> help management decide/know on PC purchasing / upgrade costs.
>> "We need to upgrade to windows 2000, what will be the cost?" and via
>> the
>> database it was easily possible to generate reports on PCs to replace,
>> hard disk upgrades, memory upgrades, etc.
>> If you are a smaller office though... you might not find this all that
>> useful and spreadsheets might be easier...
>> All in all though, bar coding doesn't help much for that kind of
>> process.
>> I Hope that helps, but if you have any other questions, don't hesitate
>> to
>> contact me offlist if you have any other questions.
>> Andrew Séguin.
>>> Todd
>> --
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