Material Handling Equipment

V. Identification and Control Equipment

Identification and control equipment is used to collect and communicate the information that is used to coordinate the flow of materials within a facility and between a facility and its suppliers and customers. The major types of identification and communication equipment are:

  1. Manual (no equipment)
  2. Bar codes
  3. Radio frequency (RF) tag
  4. Magnetic stripe
  1. Machine vision
  2. Portable data terminal
  3. Electronic data interchange (EDI)/Internet

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1. Manual (No Equipment)

The identification of materials and associated communication can be performed manually with no specialized equipment

Although it is sometimes possible to manually coordinate the operation of a material handling system, it becomes more difficult to due so as the speed, size, and complexity of the system increases

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2. Bar Codes

Unique bar/space patterns represent various alphanumeric characters

Bar code system consists of bar code label, bar code scanner, and bar code printer

Contact bar code scanners use pen or wand to read labels

Noncontact bar code scanners include fixed beam, moving beam, and omnidirectional

1-D codes are most common; 2-D codes enable much greater data storage capability

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3. Radio Frequency (RF) Tag

Data encoded on chip encased in a tag

Noncontact: can be read when the tag is within 30 ft. of an antenna

Tags can either be attached to a container, or permanently or temporarily to an item

RF tags have greater data storage capability than bar codes

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4. Magnetic Stripe

Data encoded on a magnetic stripe that is readable in almost any environment

Requires contact with a reader

Greater storage capability and more expensive than bar codes

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5. Machine Vision

Does not require explicit encoding of data since objects can be identified by their physical appearance

Noncontact, but typically requires structured lighting

More flexible than other identification equipment, but less robust

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6. Portable Data Terminal

Handheld, arm-mounted, or vehicle-mounted data storage and communication device

Communicates with a host computer via a radio frequency or infrared link

Variety of input devices available: keyboard, bar code scanner, voice headset

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7. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)/Internet

Electronic data interchange (EDI) provides standards for inter-corporate transfer of purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and other frequently used business documents

Prior to the Internet, EDI required expensive dedicated value added networks (VANs)

EDI is critical for implementing JIT manufacturing

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Last modified: September 30, 1999