Bar-coding your assets can make life easier for not only your maintenance team and technicians but also your operators, management team, and staff in general.

Bar codes help employees quickly determine which asset they want to create a work order for, run a work order history report, or see what open work orders are currently associated with an asset. There’s no question about the benefits, but how do you choose the right bar codes for you and your organization?

When deciding on bar codes, you’ll need to consider:

  • Code Type

  • Material

  • Size

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Code Type for the bar code label

Hippo CMMS currently supports most of the recognized bar code types, including:

While all these code types are currently supported by Hippo CMMS, we recommend either Code 128 or QR types as they provide quick readability and a low rate of failure with our mobile version. They also happen to be two of the most common types of bar codes, which means you can easily source them through an outside vendor or in-house production.

Material used for bar code label

In general, bar codes come in two types, paper and synthetic, and when deciding between the two, the first consideration is the application environment. Will these be used in an office setting away from harsh conditions or in a manufacturing plant where they’ll be exposed to high temperatures and greasy or rough surfaces? Remember, you want your bar codes to survive for a long time, so they need to be able to withstand their environment.

Paper labels are the most inexpensive and commonly used material for general applications, and you can easily make them in-house using your everyday label maker. They’re typically used for general inventory in the most non-specific environments (office spaces, warehouses, etc.), but tend to be less durable over time. Which, in the end, is usually not too big of a problem. Replacements are cheap and quick to make.

Synthetic labels, while more of an investment, offer the benefit of both maximum durability and flexibility. Synthetic labels are commonly used in the harshest of environments because they are resistant to high temperatures, chemical exposure, scratching, water, and oil. Because there are many different synthetic types (polyester, polypropylene, vinyl, etc.), and each offers its own benefits, it’s worth doing some research before making your final decision. Talk a bar code manufacturer or your CMMS software provider to make sure you’re getting a label suited to your conditions and needs.

Size of the bar code label

The size of a bar code label can prove to be a major factor in the decision-making process. Hippo CMMS currently recommends using 2″ x 1″ labels because it provides enough space for both scanner- and human-readable information. The scanner can read the bar code, and the technician can read the asset number.   

hippo_barcodeAnatomy of a bar code label, with both scanner- and human-readable sections

Using a larger label might not be an option with smaller assets. You have to take the size of the assets into consideration when choosing the right bar code label.

Next steps

While this may seem like a lot to consider prior to bar-coding your assets, a good provider will always be there to help. They’ll have experts on hand to help determine what best meets your organization’s needs. And then once you’re up and running with bar codes, you’ll hit the final step, which is where you wonder how you ever managed to get by without bar codes.

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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