Bar codes are a great way to help control your inventory. They allow you to easily enter the correct parts on an invoice, order and receive parts from vendors, and do physical counts much quicker than you could by hand.
However, a lot of companies are slow to adopt bar coding. This is because there is a perceived difficulty in doing so. Bar code readers are not cheap and ESC actually required them to be connected to a computer, so the range was limited - until now.
It is rare that we discuss third party software solutions in the newsletter but we recently came across one that is just too good not to mention. In this case the solution is an app called CLZ Barry, a bar code scanner for your iOS or Android device. This great little app has a corresponding program that runs on one of the computers where you have ESC installed. The two programs communicate seamlessly to allow your device to scan bar codes into ESC from anywhere, providing you have a connection to the Internet. Best of all, the app is only $7.99 and uses devices you already have, so let's take a look at how it works.
To download the app, go to the app store on your device and search for CLZ Barry. Buy the app and install it. Then tap the Settings icon, the wrench in the upper right-hand corner, and make it match the settings below. Make sure you note the Barry ID as you will need this in just a moment.
Now tap Custom Mode and check off everything except EAN-5/EAN-2. This will give you the ability to scan just about any bar code you come across, including the QR codes and Code 39 bar codes that ESC prints. Return to the home screen of the app when you are done.
Now go to this website and download Buddy, the program the app communicates with, on the computer where you want the scanned items to appear. ESC must be installed on this computer as well. After Buddy is installed, launch it and enter your Barry ID. Click Connect then close the program. Although this gets rid of the interface, the program itself will still be running down in your system tray (by the time).
Please note that there is room for only one Barry ID, so although you can buy an app for each device you have, only one can be connected to a particular computer at a time. So ideally each user that needs bar code scanning capabilities in ESC should have their own copy of Barry connected to Buddy on their computer.
Now you're just about ready to start scanning. Before you begin, however, you have to get ESC ready to read a scan. This can be done on the Sales Invoicing and Inventory Adjustment screen by selectingActivities | Scan Items. It can also be accessed when creating a PO or Receiving Items by selecting Barcodes | Scan. If your computer has speakers it is a good idea to turn them up at this time as ESC will let you know when a scan is successful or if you scan an invalid item (such as a part that does not exist in ESC).
Now tap the Scan button on the app and change the Quantity mode to1 and the Scan Mode to Custom. CLZ Barry will remember these settings so you should only have to do this once.
You can start scanning bar codes now. Each time you scan a part it will add that item to ESC and increase the quantity by one. So if you want to add three of the same items to an invoice you would just scan the same part three times. It might take you a little bit of practice to get used to this though. If you leave the scanner over the bar code for too long it will scan the item again automatically, which can cause you to add more than you want.
When you are finished scanning tap the down arrow on the app and you'll see the parts that you scanned listed on the screen. Tap theSelect button, followed by Select All. Tap Delete and select Yes when prompted to remove the items.
Note: CLZ Barry designed this functionality for importing items in a batch which, and although it does work, it can cause problems if any of the items you scanned do not exist in ESC - so we do not recommend it.
Switch back to ESC and click Close on the Scan Item screen to finish your transaction.
So there it is, an easy to use, inexpensive bar coding solution that uses equipment you probably already have. We think this app has a lot to offer but have to emphasize that we do not have the ability to provide support for this product as we did not create it and are not affiliated with CLZ in any way.
Written by Eric Rausin
Featured in September 2013 Newsletter