Why 40-Year Old Barcoding is Gaining Popularity for Oil and Gas, MRO and Chemicals Companies with SAP® ERP

SAP ERP Barcode Innovations Ready for Refinery MRO Warehouses, Chemicals Production Operations and Finished Goods Tracking

Many know the story about barcodes being established in 1974 to automate the retail purchase of chewing gum. In 2020, over 40 years later, there is a rapid increase in inventory control optimization for Oil and Gas and Chemical companies with SAP software using barcode technology. Why now? From our perspective, the following are the leading reasons we’ve been given over the last 18 months: because newly positioned leadership and senior management have planned and completed mergers and/or acquisitions; because barcoding has simply been delayed “put on the back-burner” for decades; because SAP software upgrade roadmaps are in various phases of transitioning from legacy ERP software programs, or SAP ECC 6.0, to SAP S/4HANA; and/or, because “we are investing in inventory control and tracking optimization now in preparation for anticipated leaner times.”

These same influential and sometimes new managers, transitioning from prior experienced roles in Supply Chain Management, Logistics and SAP Enterprise Application positions, are communicating that RF scanning and barcode printing automation for SAP software is a quick-and-easy win to show tangible hard dollar cost savings from minimal optimization investment. Inventory processes have high visibility, are viewed by a large network of mid-level company personnel, and are currently being implemented in rapid or limited-duration timeframes, and with immediate ROI in most cases (from error reductions, reduction of production bottle-necks, and improved inventory visibility). Simply put: “…we know investing in barcoding for our SAP software system will have an impact, and our people have been asking for it for years. We’re overdue in implementing RF scanning and barcoding… the business case has been justified.” Here are the leading reasons given in 2019 for building the business case:

Oil and Gas, MRO and Chemical Production Daily Pain Points:

  • ▪ Lack of real-time accuracy and inventory visibility- simply not knowing where materials are located.
  • ▪ Number of daily errors in Production line assignment, returns to stock, and relabeling for identification of new batch materials.
  • ▪ Lack of immediate validation with SAP software during material movements (errors in receiving, put-away, moves, picking, packing, shipping, counting, etc.)
  • ▪ Amount of daily time wasted going back and forth of office rooms to update system, reconcile data in the SAP modules, manual printing of labels, and other significant time consumption activities.
  • ▪ Significant costs associated with expedited shipping of needed inventory between plants, storerooms, and from vendors due to inventory inconsistencies.

Common Barcode Symbologies Used for Oil and Gas, MRO and Chemicals Production

1D, aka Linear Barcodes, Ladder, and Picket Fence: UPC Barcodes, Code 128 Barcodes (including GTIN, GS1, etc.), Code 39 Barcodes, and Code 2 of 5 Barcodes.

2D, aka 2-Dimensional Barcodes: PDF417 Barcodes, QR Barcodes, and Data Matrix Barcodes

Mature, New and Dynamic Mobile Barcoding Options Ready to Run

For existing SAP ERP 6.0 and SAP S/4HANA users, there are multiple, SAP-certified, directly-integrated RF barcode scanning and barcode label printing options that are ideal to suit nearly any variation within Oil and Gas and Chemical industries. Leading most mobilization efforts are real-time systems with established connectivity options including:

  • ▪ SAP Console – Telnet; think speed, simplicity, and blends of older Zebra, Motorola, Symbol, Intermec, Honeywell, and LXE Windows and newer Android RF devices.
  • ▪ SAP ITSmobile – Web Browser; stability, ease-of-use, great user interface and touch-screen ready for Zebra RF Scanners- both traditional long-range scan guns and new phone-style/PDA devices.
  • ▪ UI5 Applications – think SAP Fiori and other SAP-certified rapid deployment UI5 platforms for Zebra RF devices such as mobile barcode scanners, rugged tablets, and vehicle-mounted terminals.
  • ▪ Store and Forward (aka online/offline) – versatile BCCD UI5 application platform designed and developed for real-time functionality, also supporting poor, limited, and no WLAN/Wi-Fi coverage and isolated locations.

In addition to the software considerations- Oil and Gas, and Chemical operations can’t afford production disruptions. There is a balance of safety and automation with certified mobile device technologies that is required by regulation standards, necessitating use of devices that meet Hazardous Location Classifications, such as OSHA Class 1 Division 2 (C1D2) and ATEX Zone 2 certifications. These globally certified rugged Zebra RF scanners, tablets, and vehicle terminals (as pictured and identified by the arrow pointing to the RED border around the screen) can stand up to the extreme elements found in tough Oil and Gas and Chemical production environments.

Implementations of mobilized SAP Inventory Management (IM) and Warehouse Management (WM) transactions for SAP ECC 6.0 and SAP S/4HANA are not limited to one location. BCCD’s recent mobile RF scanning and barcode label printing implementation locations within this industry include sites in: Houston Texas metro area (Houston, Freeport, Winnie, China, and more), New Orleans Louisiana area (NOLA, Hackberry, Plaquemine), Akron and Columbus Ohio areas, St. Louis Missouri, Chicago Illinois area, upstate New York, plus locations Europe [France, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, The UK and Spain].

Best practice standards are vital to create consistent and easy-to-use RF screens for mobile users, as well as to meet corporate requirements for standardization. BCCD designs each IM and WM transaction for mobile RF scanners (handheld barcode scanners, rugged tablets, vehicle terminals, and more) with minimal words and maximum simplicity, optimized specifically to make the mobile SAP RF scanning and barcode printing system extremely easy to use for the operator. BCCD’s TranASAP solution is developed for real-time, directly-integrated architecture, using the above SAP-certified software development platforms and connectivity tools.

Contact BCC Distribution to illustrate how RF scanning and barcode printing automation can optimize SAP ECC 6.0 and SAP S/4HANA Inventory Management, Warehouse Management, and Extended Warehouse Management specific to Oil and Gas Production, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Storerooms/Parts Cribs, as well as Chemical manufacturing operations.

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