Global Fastener News

1984 FIN – Bars & Strips in Fastener Future

February 13
00:00 2011

By Dick Callahan, FIN Editor

April 17, 1984 FIN – If you’re now involved in supplying the auto industry with fasteners or hope to tap that marketplace in the future, there are a number of things going on that you’d better be aware of—and do something about—soon.

There the obvious things like 1) learning to adjust to Just-In-Time (JIT) production methods and techniques and 2) setting up a statistical process control (SPC) program. But along with JIT and SPC you should also be thinking about:

There are obvious requirements such as (1) learning to adjust to Just-In-Time production and (2) setting up a Statistical Process Control (SPC) program.

1)                 Electronic communications

2)                 Returnable packaging

3)                 Bar codes

Electronic communications means you’ll be contacting Detroit via your computer instead of by mail or the phone. Returnable packaging means that you better start looking for something other than cardboard for your shipments to Detroit, something that preferably lends itself to:

1)        Work station dispensing

2)        Automated material handling system

3)        Easy identification (color coded plastic containers for instance)

4)        Reusability

Also, if your container is the kind that necessitates in-plant fork truck handling you better do some redesigning. In Japan, there are few fork trucks used inside auto plants and you know where Detroit is getting its ideas from these days.

We’ll give more coverage to electronic communications and cardboard-less packaging in future issues of FIN but for now we’d like to tell you something about bar coding and why you should be aware of what its all about, whether your customers are in Detroit or not.

If you’re already into bar coding you can skip most of the rest of this because we’re going to get pretty basic. Right off the bat we would like to thank Larry Higgason, managing director of AIAG, who was a quest speaker at the recent National Fastener Distributors Association annual meeting, for providing some of the information provided below.

Bar coding as you probably know, unless you grow your own food or live somewhere near the Arctic Circle, is a method of product identification consisting of an array of rectangular marks and spaced in a predetermined pattern which are machine read by hand held wands, fixed optical beams, or hand held moving laser beams. Most of the products you now buy in the grocery store (and other retail outlets) have these bar codes on them and you’ve probably seen the readers at the checkout counters of your local supermarket, beeping away as the counter person passes your purchases over them.

What you’ve got to do now is visualize those bar code symbols on your own products’ labels, indicating such things as:

1.  The part number

2.   The quantity

3.  Your identification

4.  Serial number supplied by your customer

5.  Special data (for any additional information, like country of origin which you or your customer might want included)

In addition, the label also has to have come “human readable” characters above those stripes.

Though all bar codes look pretty much alike there are a number of different types. What you see on the packaged food, for instance, is probably the UPC bar code.

However, if you’re going to be supplying Detroit (and we assume most industries will follow what Detroit does) you probably will be using the alphanumeric Code 39 (or 3-of-9 as its also called) or Interleaved 2 of 5.

In addition to the bar codes developed in this country, there are also a number in use abroad. Datsun, for instance, as one peculiar to itself.

All the domestic motor companies have already, or will in the near future, made bar coding mandatory for the approximately 28,000 different suppliers to the industry. Detroit is not only telling them what bar code to use, what this bar code must contain, and what size the label can be (around 4″ x 6 1/2″ maximum) but they are also indicating exactly where the label must be placed on various shipping packs.

Coordinating the auto industry’s efforts to make bar coding the required form of product identification is a group established in 1981 called the Automotive Industry Action Group made up of representatives from the major North American automobile manufacturers and suppliers. This group has set up various project teams to deal with such Just-In-Time, Schedule Stability, Electronic Communications, Returnable Containers, and Bar Coding.

The managing director of AIAG is L.A. (Larry) Higgason (on loan from Ford Motor Co.) and the two individuals heading up the Bar Coding Project Team are J.R. (Jack) Loeffler of Ford Motor Co. and D.L. (Don) Dubuc of General Motors Co.

AIAG has just published two brochures on bar coding which you may want to procure. One is “Shipping/Part Identification Label Standard” (AIAG-B-3-1984) which runs 12 pages and the other is “Bar Code Symbology Standard (AIAG-B-1-1984) which runs 8 pages, contains a glossary, and explains the 3 of 9 bar code symbols. ©1984/2011 Fastener Industry News

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