Stock records are difficult to maintain using a name-based system. As soon as stock quantities rise to a significant number it becomes essential to devise a system that categorizes product types and allows for development of recognition codes. All the techniques for tracing stock movements would be assisted by having an efficient coding system.
Names can be easily confused and for this reason it is imperative that a system of symbols, letters and/or numbers for the identification of items, equipment, etc. is adopted. Begin by giving each item a complete and unique identification reference which cannot be confused with another and which can be recorded, retrieved and recognized throughout the company, this is Product Coding.
The elements of a successful coding system can be remembered using the mnemonic SUCCESS.
S – Simple: the system should be easy enough for everyone to understand
U – Unique: each item should have only one code and each code should refer to a single item
C – Comprehensive: the system should cover all the stock items
C – Consistent: the same format should be used for all stock items
E – Expandable: the format should allow for expansion of the product range
S – Significant: all the elements of the code should have some meaning or significance that can be conveyed to the user
S – Self-validating: ideally a check digit could be employed within the code to prevent errors of input
There are so many widely used product coding systems. For example NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) has a comprehensive product coding system for military organizations.
Shell Oil has MESC (Materials Equipment Standards and Code) system, Pantone Color has one for the printing industry. We unfortunately do not have a specially designed one yet known in Nigeria but use the widely accepted standards.
A common order tracking technology that relays on correct product coding is barcoding. A barcode system simply put is a network of mobile computers, printers, handheld scanners and infrastructure and the supporting software. This is very wide and varying.
Also with the emergence of EPC (Electronic Product Code) coding, and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, the sky is the limit.
A good coding system avoids repeated use of long descriptive titles, accurately identifies and prevents duplication of all items. It assists standardization and provides a foundation for an efficient purchasing process. It simplifies recording and makes it convenient for central analysis of unit warehouse records.
Author: Judith Duru
- On November 2, 2016
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