A label maker, a cheap barcode scanner and Google Forms – Cory Beal shares his simple yet effective technique for monitoring Floodway Print Company’s screens inventory

When production manager Cory Beal was expanding Floodway Print Company’s inventory of mesh and screens last year, he realised he was mostly guessing at what was needed. “If I knew what mesh counts we were actually using and could compare it to what we had in stock then I could make a much better decision. It was important that it didn’t interfere with the process too much, so we wanted a simple solution,” he recalls.

The company started tracking its screen reclamation process using a label maker, a barcode scanner and Google Forms. A label containing a unique QR code is made for each of the company’s screens and then applied on to the side of the frame. Once a group of screens has been reclaimed, each screen’s QR code is scanned and the data is then transferred from the scanner into the Google Form. Job done.

“We [now] know exactly what mesh counts we’re using, how often we’re doing the reclaim process, and how many screens we’re cleaning in each batch,” explains Cory.

First, scan the screens…

…then transfer the data into a Google Form

For anyone who wants to track their screens, it’s a straightforward system to set up. “I have some experience with Google Forms, Google Spreadsheets, and a label maker. That combination of skills is relatively easy to acquire these days with YouTube and other resources,” he notes. “It’s not simpler than a piece of paper, but it’s definitely easy to implement.”

Most basic label makers will have a barcode or QR code function, says Cory. “In this example, the data is tiny, just a number like ‘123’, so a regular barcode would work just as well. We use a Brother and an Epson label maker – generic label makers that have barcode/QR functionality. You could make them in Google Sheets, or even right on your ‘iPhone’ with ‘Automations’, but these ones need to be done on the label maker because it’s the only medium that will stick and last through our reclaim process.

“The barcode reader is super generic. Not all of them will read QR codes so that’s a feature to look for, but it was very cheap. We went fancy with a wireless one and it was still inexpensive. A barcode reader is essentially just a keyboard, so nothing extra is needed in Google Forms. We just click into the field, and start scanning.”

In addition, Cory is now tracking when a screen breaks so the team can see how many jobs it has done before retiring or popping. “This gives us a leaderboard of oldest mesh, which helps us spot issues with mesh popping too soon from mishandling or other issues.”

www.floodwayprintco.com