In recent years, we noticed a phenomenon of an increasing number of bad serial numbers being received into Elliott inventory through the scanning process. This mostly takes place through the PO Warehouse Receiving process, which is designed to support scanning. Generally speaking, if there's a bad scan of a UPC code, Elliott has an internal mechanism to validate the UPC code to prevent this scenario. But when you receive a serial number, if there's a bad scan -- such as one that is missing a single digit or one that contains an invalid character -- it is not caught because Elliott assumes that the receiving serial number is simply not on file. Thus, a bad serial number can be received into Elliott inventory and is only discovered later on when you try to sell that serial number or perform a physical/cycle count.
To address bad serial number scanning, we introduced two new Global Setup flags into Global Setup -> System -> Serial No. tracking control. See sample screen below:
If field 17 is set to "Y," the program will validate the scanned serial number in the PO Warehouse Receiving Add Mode. All characters must be 0-9, A-Z, "-" or "." If invalid characters are entered, the following message will appear and the user must enter "DONE" to continue.
These validations will also be done if F3 is pressed to enter a range of serial numbers.
The technical reasons that cause the invalid serial number to be scanned are not completely clear. Based on our observations, there are a few possible reasons why this might happen:
- Scanner Issue: We found scanners from Symbol are most reliable. A linear, one-dimension laser scanner is more reliable than a two-dimensional image scanner. Symbol was later sold to Motorola. As of this writing, their current owner is Zebra.
- Bar Code Label Issue: We found the bar code created though a laser printer is not as good as the one created through a ribbon printer. Bar code ribbon printers produce high quality bar code images. But the ribbon cannot be reused, so it can be costly if you have a large number of bar code labels to produce. That is the reason why some manufacturers choose to use laser printers. But sometimes the laser printer can't print the thin line of the bar code clearly, and that results in broken lines in the bar code that can be missed during scanning.
- Network Issue: Your wireless network in the warehouse may not be reliable. If you are running from a remote warehouse that is some distance away from your Elliott server, the wide area network reliability may also play a role. Do a ping test between your remote warehouse and your Elliott server and measure your packet lost ratio.