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Understanding How Stocktaking Software Works

Stocktake scanners are generally referred to in the industry as PDA scanners, portable data terminals (PDTs) and mobile computers. They differ from a conventional barcode scanner in the way they collect data.

A cabled or cordless barcode scanner can generally only scan the item barcode number. That’s it. Nothing more. And they usually send the data into your application that you have open. So if you have a program open such as word, excel, notepad or even a software application that is open. Wherever your cursor is active, the scanned data from the barcode scanner is sent back to this point. Instead of you keying in this barcode number, the barcode scanner replicates keyboard strokes and sends it back there for you. Cant be any simpler than that. Plug and play stuff! The technical term for this is called HID input.

A stocktake scanner works very different to this. First of all, they can be programmed to collect multiple fields of data or information. Such as barcode item #, location ID #, User ID #, Qty and even date/time. They can even be programmed to store a lookup table. A lookup table is information of the product such as description, weight, packaging, unit #, quantity in system etc etc. Some customers like this as it helps them identify the item when they scan it.

Once the stocktake information is collected, the stocktake scanner is brought back to a charging communication cradle where the information is uploaded back into the P.C.

Stocktake scanners can also be programmed to give you the kind of output file you desire. Some manufacturers offer free development tools that allow you to program the scanner quite easily. This could save you thousands of dollars in developments costs.

We find that most customers require the output file from the stocktake scanner to be dumped into excel. Some customers like it to be dumped into a location on their C drive as a simple text file. This can be done quite easily too. Also, the two most common requests of an output file are either comma delimited or tab delimited.

Will the stocktake scanner work with my software? – If you need the data scanned from the stocktake scanner, to go directly into your software, you will have to have a program written to do this. This option could cost several thousand dollars plus. If you are renting and you are only doing stocktakes once or twice a year, then this is not practical. If you are purchasing and you have several rolling stocktakes each year, and you can also use the stocktake scanners for other inventory control applications such as picking orders, receipting and dispatching, then investing in the application to upload straight into your software is good cost justification. We find in most cases however that most customers are happy to settle for dumping the data into excel or down as a simple text file into their P.C.