Barcodes & QR Codes

How to Use Barcodes in Manufacturing

May 3, 2024 • 5 min read

Why are more and more businesses using barcodes in manufacturing? Quite simply, barcodes—and QR codes, too—are powerful automation tools that can help manufacturers more effectively track inventory while boosting productivity and reducing human error. 

This article will explore how to create a barcode system in manufacturing and review the benefits of visual manufacturing barcodes. Read on to learn more. 


4 Steps to a Manufacturing Barcode System

Getting started with a manufacturing barcode system doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you can start setting up a barcode inventory system for your manufacturing business today. Here’s how to do it:

1. Pick a barcode software system

The first step to setting up a barcode system is deciding what inventory management software you’d like to use. Choosing an inventory app with a built-in barcode and QR code scanner can make it easier to scan barcodes, since it won’t require any additional equipment beyond a smartphone. 

Related: Barcodes vs. QR Codes for Inventory Management

2. Get organized

Now that you’ve selected inventory management software, you’ll need to prepare your inventory for barcoding. Before you start barcoding, now is a time to eliminate clutter from your inventory and make sure you’re storing items in the right locations. 

Then, it’s time to start entering item details into your app’s digital inventory list. You can include critical details such as item name, location, SKU or other identifying numbers, as well as custom details that are specific to your business (for instance, item condition, item dimensions, etc). With Sortly, you can also easily add photos of each item with just the click of a button, which makes it easy to establish a truly visual inventory. You can also add attachments such as purchase orders, manuals, and bills of materials for each item. 

Free Ebook: The Complete Guide to Barcoding Your Inventory

This easy, comprehensive guide will help you:

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3. Label everything with barcodes

Once your manufacturing inventory is organized, you can actually begin barcoding. 

If your inventory has no existing barcodes or QR codes, you can use the barcode generator in your inventory app to create one. Sortly allows you to generate and print barcodes and QR codes right in the app. Simply go to the item profile and generate a barcode. The barcode will then automatically sync to the item. 

Simply go to a given item’s profile, select “Add QR/Barcode”, then click “Create New”. 

You can then print the barcode onto label paper with other vital details, like your company logo and the item’s name. 

If your inventory already has barcodes (or QR codes), you can use the existing code to scan each item into your inventory management software. In Sortly, simply go to a given item’s profile, click “Add QR/Barcode” and select “Link Existing.” Then, scan the barcode or QR code to sync it. 

4. Scan barcodes as needed

Now that you’ve set up a barcode inventory system, you can start using those barcodes to speed up all sorts of inventory-related tasks. For example, you can:

Update item details

Now, whenever an item arrives at your facility, leaves the facility, is consumed or sold, or changes location, you can simply scan the barcode to update the item’s whereabouts, quantity, and more. 

Keep an eye on key reminders

If your inventory management software also allows you to track important dates and low stock alerts, you can use your barcode inventory system to access those details. In Sortly, with the scan of a barcode, you’ll be able to access preventative maintenance schedules, review bills of materials, access details about vendor lead time and reorder point, and review any additional notes others have left about specific items in the inventory.

Get information instantly

Not quite sure what’s in that hard-to-reach box? Curious how much paint you have at another location? With a  quick scan of a barcode, and you can learn everything you need to know about an item instantly. 


Benefits of using barcodes in manufacturing 

There are many advantages to using an inventory barcode system for manufacturers. Here are a few of the main advantages:

Speed up everyday tasks

From checking in inventory to performing physical inventory counts, just about every inventory-related task can be made faster using barcode and QR code scanning. When items arrive at your loading dock, simply scan the barcode on the boxes to check in the new inventory. If you’re moving a case of product to another warehouse, scan the barcode to pull up the item, then drag that case to its new location. Or, if you’re conducting an inventory count, skip all the paperwork and simply scan the item and update the quantity as needed.

Experience the simplest inventory management software.

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Help your accountants work faster

Barcode systems speed up every aspect of inventory management—and that benefit trickles down to your accounting team, too. Because barcodes help keep your inventory records accurate and up-to-date, your accounting department should be able to perform critical tasks more effectively and more completely. This includes preparing balance sheets, claiming depreciation, and forecasting demand. 

Collaborate more effectively

Chances are, you’re not the only person in your manufacturing business who handles inventory. Fortunately, it’s easy to get the whole team scanning barcodes and QR codes. All your employees need is a tablet or smartphone with a camera, and they’re ready to help track inventory. Plus, inventory apps like Sortly offer multiple user accounts with customizable permissions, so your team can handpick what information different employees can view or edit. 

Reduce mistakes and errors

There are so many different ways to introduce human error into inventory management, from jumbling numbers on a spreadsheet to ordering the wrong kind of insulation. That’s especially true if your company tracks inventory manually or uses a spreadsheet. Barcode scanners don’t make mistakes, so your team can confidently update inventory details in real time. 

Related: How to Reduce Manufacturing Waste


Using Sortly for your manufacturing barcode system

Sortly helps you track, manage, and organize all your inventory—from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory solution that’s perfect for small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.

With Sortly, you can track consumable inventory like supplies, parts, and raw materials, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR codinglow stock alerts, customizable inventory folders, smart reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone—and so can your team.

Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your small business. That’s why over 10,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.

Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.