Automated Data Collection

Automated Data Collection: Methods & Benefits

Brinna Hanson
Brinna is a marketing professional and recent graduate of the University of Minnesota. Brinna joined Smart Data Solutions in 2019 to assist the marketing department reach new heights with a focus on the HubSpot inbound process. From her time at Smart Data as well as at previous internships, Brinna has been able to gain knowledge in many different aspects of marketing as a whole.
Automated data collection is the automatic data capture of paper documents, turning them into digital files using special tools and software. A combination of AI programming and machine learning allows software to quickly read and translate paper files and images and turn them into easily accessible e-files.
Automatic data capture has been paramount in shifting away from manual data entry and into more sustainable digital processes. Automated data collection software has helped businesses streamline their document management, amongst other benefits.
How Do Businesses Benefit From Automated Data Collection? Faster Turnaround TimesFewer Manual ProcessesReduction in ErrorsIncreased EfficiencyCost SavingsDifferent Methods of Automated Data Collection. Optical Character RecognitionOptical Mark RecognitionIntelligent Character RecognitionAutomated Data Collection Software and Tools.
How Do Businesses Benefit From Automated Data Collection?
Companies that shift to more automation with data capture systems will reap the benefits of several advantages that come with automated data collection. Improvements to their business processes include:
Faster Turnaround Times
Processing paper forms such as medical claims can take up significant amounts of time. One must wait for documents to be processed, proofread, scanned, mailed out to the proper parties, only to go through further steps on that end. Automation can shave down the time it takes to process paper claims from days to minutes.
Saving time on mundane, slow processes means freeing up time to spend on more training for employees, getting more work done, and applying more energy to data quality assurance and other critical tasks.
Fewer Manual Processes
Automated data collection will help businesses eliminate outdated manual processes. As technology continues to enhance and grow, paper forms and documents seem to be going away, almost completely. The manual processing of paper forms is old news.
Automation reduces the time it takes to process data manually and saves on space required to file and store paper documents. Thanks to automated data capture, those files are now all digital and can be kept securely for years and years while being easily accessible.
Reduction in Errors
Manual data entry brings a much higher risk of the inevitable human error. Despite diligent training and expertise, mistakes can still happen. During automated data processing, however, artificial intelligence and optical character recognition can help alleviate these errors.
Data collection software can quickly read through documents and compare them to other files and templates to ensure all data is complete, and things like names and date of birth match up on sensitive documents. OCR can even read handwritten forms and translate them to correct digital formats.
Increased Efficiency
Another advantage of automatic data collection systems is that it simplifies complex tasks into fewer steps, which increases efficiency in those tasks, as well as others. When the need for extra steps taking place during manual processes is removed, businesses can dedicate more time to other workflows, increasing productivity.
Cost Savings
Automation can rid your business of extensive costs related to extra labor, ongoing training, equipment maintenance, system updates, and document storage. It can also allow for funds to be redistributed to other departments, enhancing internal processes, updating computers and other machines, etc.
Businesses can see significant cost savings by choosing to hire an outside organization to handle their data capture rather than an in-house team. This is becoming incredibly more popular as businesses see the incredible advantages of paying a flat rate to get the same, if not better, data processing as they did doing it themselves.
Different Methods of Automated Data Collection.
Automated data collection is not a one-size-fits-all type of system. It comes in all different forms and methods that could change depending on a business’s needs. The level of character recognition and automation can change and meet different requirements. Here are some of the most common methods of ADC you will see used.
Optical Character Recognition
Optical character recognition is a proven technology that has been very well-established across many industries as the go-to automated data capture method. It’s our chosen method for data capture here at Smart Data Solutions. OCR is a technology that takes handwritten or typed documents, images, PDF files, or other scanned documents and reads them to convert them to editable, searchable digital documents.
OCR is different from simply scanning documents into the computer because it reads the characters in the document and matches it with specific templates and formats to ensure accurate data transfer, not just a copy and paste as a scanner would do. OCR is incredibly useful for industries dealing with sensitive data like patient information on medical claims. It creates higher accuracy and improves quality assurance.
Optical Mark Recognition
Optical mark recognition does not recognize characters but will scan for marks like filled in bubbles or checkmarks. This method is great for tests, questionnaires, surveys, symptoms checklists, family history—anything that requires making a mark on the form rather than writing in information.
Intelligent Character Recognition
Intelligent character recognition focuses much more heavily on handwritten documents. The accuracy can be a bit lower than other methods of character recognition but can save a lot of time processing handwritten forms. Using machine learning, the equipment and software can read different fonts, styles, even cursive hand-writing, which will vary in accuracy but ultimately help translate data much faster than manual data entry.
Automated Data Collection Software and Tools.
Tools used to automatically collect data include bar code scanners, position scanners, RFID readers, QR codes, and other data collection devices. These allow for quick and easy readability of forms and documents. Once data is input into the system, they can be quickly scanned and read by the computer within seconds by putting labels and bar codes on those documents. This limits manual data entry and pulls content much faster and more accurately.
Now, the software used by organizations utilizing automated data collection is often specific to those businesses. For example, the technology used by Smart Data Solutions has been specifically developed to suit the exact needs of our clientele but also incorporates enhanced AI and machine learning capabilities.
While many organizations may use an application that meets the basic needs of automated data collection, we believe that users should get all of that and more, especially if they want increased accuracy and precision in their automation practices. For more information on what we offer in our data capture services, please check out our OCR webpage, and from there, contact us to get started!
URL: /automated-data-collection/
5 Key Advantages of Automated Data Capture Systems - DDC FPO

5 Key Advantages of Automated Data Capture Systems – DDC FPO

Manually inputting data can be tedious and time-consuming. Data capture streamlines documentation and allows for the automation of multiple processes, improving reliability and efficiency of those processes. Where manual data input has employees tied down typing in information from hand-written forms, automated data capture systems change the game by converting information into a form that can be read and used by computers.
Automated data capture methods
An integrated automatic data capture system (ADCS), such as a full supply chain ERP (enterprise resource planning), is able to automate freight bill of lading generation and automatically takes the appropriate actions when the delivery is received. The process is the same regardless of the type of address. ADCS can even incorporate and automate your freight processing – and it takes stress off of your finance department.
For example, an ERP using RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology can provide you with all of the above benefits, with the addition of removing all manual input from your POD (proof of delivery) processing. Simply put, there’s a lot that ADCS can do for you. The actual benefits, however, are much more straightforward.
5 Advantages of automatic data capture system (ADCS)
1. Improved Clarity and Efficiency
Replacing physical documents with digital copies reduces clutter in your workplace. This makes all documents available to authorized personnel at any time, from any device with access. Long are the days of searching for misfiled documents.
2. Faster Turnaround
More work can be done when you’re not waiting on forms to process. Consider how long it takes for an employee to confirm everything on a POD processing form. When everything can be scanned using RFID technology, it can be confirmed instantaneously, cutting hours of work down to seconds. This opens up room for training employees into more profitable roles, allowing you to reinvest for a greater return from your team.
3. Reduces Paperwork, Costs, and Frustration
Every one of the aforementioned benefits will save you time and money, but automating your processes does the same more directly, as well. If you haven’t made the jump to digital yet, you’re probably wading through high volumes of paperwork on a daily basis. It takes a lot of money to keep that all organized. You’re paying for filing cabinets, printers, ink, the labor needed to keep it organized, and if you rent your office space you’re paying for additional square footage so that you have room to store it all. Making the jump to digital eliminates all of that.
4. Reduced Errors
Compared to manual data entry, automatic data entry greatly reduce errors. Company documents can be filled out, stored, retrieved and used more accurately. Fewer errors mean less money wasted. The 1-10-100 rule states:
Preventing an error that will affect the company costs $1
Correcting an error already made costs $10
Allowing an error to stand costs $100
Run the numbers however you like; the longer you allow mistakes to stand the more they hit your company’s pocketbook.
5. Automated Data Capture Will Save You Money
The more streamlined your processes, the more efficient your business. The more efficient your business, the more money you save on daily operations. Stop needlessly spending money on outdated processes. Collect the difference, reinvest in your business, and get a leg up on the competition.
Advantages of automated system over manual system
Are you looking to optimize your business? To learn more about the advantages of information processing systems? Contact DDC FPO Solutions now to get your customized data solution.
Automated Data Collection (ADC) Basics -

Automated Data Collection (ADC) Basics –

By Dave Piasecki
© Copyright. Content on is copyright-protected and is not available for republication.
Automated Data Collection (ADC), also known as Automated Data Capture
(ADC), Automated Identification (AutoID), Automated Identification and
Data Capture (AIDC), and by many as just “Barcoding” consists of many
technologies including some that have nothing to do with bar codes.
Voice systems, RFID, OCR, pick-to-light, laser scanners, CCD scanners,
hand-held batch and RF terminals, vehicle-mounted computers,
and wearable computers are all part of the ADC picture.
The fear of six-figure project costs often prevent many small to
mid-sized manufacturers and distributors from taking advantage of
Automated Data Collection (ADC) technologies. The key to implementing
cost-effective ADC systems is knowing what technologies are available
and the amount of integration required to implement them. Applying this
knowledge to the processes in your operation will help you in developing
the scope of your project. Limiting your project to or prioritizing by
those applications that have a high benefit/cost ratio will allow you to
apply these operational improvement technologies within a reasonable
budget. For example, adding a keyboard-wedge bar-code scanner to
an existing PC or terminal in a production or warehouse area is a very
low cost method for applying ADC to existing shop-floor reporting and
shipping applications. This type of hardware is inexpensive and the only
real programming required is that needed to add a bar code to the form
(work order, pick slip, etc. )
Bar codes
are two major categories of bar codes, one dimensional (1D), and two
dimensional (2D). 1D barcodes are the ones we are most familiar
with and consist of many different symbologies including UPC, Code 128,
Code 39, Interleaved 2 of 5, just to name a few (there may also be
variations within a specific symbology). The symbology you use may be
dictated by supply chain partners through a standardized compliance
label program or, if only used internally, can be chosen based upon
specific application (tip: if looking for a flexible symbology to
use internally on documents, labels, license plates, etc. you will find
Code 128 a good choice).
2D bar code symbologies such as UPS’s
MaxiCode (shown right), are capable of storing more data then their 1D
counterparts and require special scanners to read them. Although I would
expect to see continued growth in the use of 2D bar codes, most
warehouse and shop floor applications will continue to use 1D
symbologies simply because you
generally only need enough data in the bar code to access the associated
records in your inventory system database, plus you can more easily scan 1D bar codes from a distance.. If you’re interested in more detailed information
and specs on bar codes I recommend getting a copy of
The Bar Code Book by Roger C. Palmer.
Bar-code scanners
Laser or CCD.
There are primarily two technologies used to read
bar codes. Laser scanners use a laser beam that moves back and forth
across the bar code reading the light and dark spaces. Laser
scanners have been in use for decades and are capable of scanning bar
codes at significant distances. CCD (charged coupled device)
scanners act like a small digital camera and take a digital image of the
bar code which is then decoded. CCD scanners offer a lower cost
but may be limited to a shorter scan distance. Because of the scan
distance limitations, users in a warehouse environment will likely find
laser scanners to be their best choice when scanning from a forklift, however, for applications were bar
codes are read from documents — such as in a shop-floor
production-reporting application — CCD scanners should work fine.
Autodiscrimination describes the
functionality of a bar code reader to recognize the bar code symbology
being scanned thus allowing a reader to read several different
symbologies consecutively. Most scanners come with this
functionality and also allow you to program them to read only certain
symbologies (this prevents someone from scanning the wrong bar code when
multiple bar codes are present).
Typical separate scanners used as input devices.
A basic bar code scanner will plug into a Computer via USB or use some form of wireless technology. This is just used as an input device to the computer (we used to call this a keyboard-wedge interface). More simply put, the
computer program doesn’t know that a scanner is attached and treats the data as
though it were key strokes from the user. The advantage of this is
that there is no need for special software or programming on the
computer. In its simplest application you hook the scanner up, make sure
the curser is in the correct field, scan a bar code containing the data
you need such as a work order number, an item number, or a location, and
the data will immediately appear in the field on the screen.
Although this type of application can prove to be very useful and
essentially works right “out of the box”, you will find that by taking
advantage of the programmable features of some devices you can take this
functionality much further. This is where it gets a little
confusing as the programming and functionality is a little different
based upon the hardware and software you purchase. Some
scanners have built in programming functionality, and there is also PC
software that can perform tasks related to the data input from a
scanner. The good news is that you don’t need to be a programmer
to use this functionality. If you have ever worked with macros
you’ll easily understand this type of programming. What most of
these programs allow you to do is to parse data from a bar code
(allowing you to put several pieces of data in the same bar code such as
item number and quantity, or customer number and shipping method) and
also add keystrokes not included in the bar code such as tabs to move
between fields, default data, function keys or enter keystrokes to
complete transactions.
These types of scanners offer a low cost entry into the world of
automated data collection and can provide increases in accuracy and
productivity in many data entry applications. If you just want to start fiddling around with scanning barcodes to get a feel for how the technology works, you can get some really cheap bar-code scanners online. Keep in mind that a $20 scanner you find online is unlikely to be as good as a more expensive one from a name brand, but they can be useful for some simple low volume tasks.
Fixed Position Scanners.
Fixed position scanners are used where
a bar code is moved in front of the scanner as opposed to the scanner
being moved to the bar code. Applications include grocery check
out counters and automated conveyor systems. Many fixed position
scanners are omni-directional which means that the bar code does not
have to be oriented any specific way to be read.
Go to ‘s
Bar Code
Scanner Links.
Portable computers
Portable computers come in a vast variety of designs with varying
levels of functionality.
Batch versus RF.
Batch terminals are used to collect data into
files on the device and are later connected to a computer to have the
files downloaded. RF terminals use radio frequency waves to
communicate live with the host system or network. While batch
devices were heavily used in the past and still have viable applications
today, the introduction of wireless standards has made RF
technology much more affordable and easier to maintain and implement.
Hand-held devices.
I have a few problems with the basic nature of hand-held devices
themselves. First of all, “hand held” implies that you will be
using one hand to hold the device. Well, in most warehousing and
material-handling environments this is a problem since that hand can no
longer be used to handle materials or operate controls of
material-handling equipment. In addition, hand-held terminals generally
have very small displays that are sometimes difficult to read as well
as very small, confusing keypads that are difficult to enter data into.
This doesn’t mean that these can’t be valuable tools in your operation,
only that you need to be sure to consider all the factors when
implementing this type of technology. Hand-held devices typically come
with integrated bar-code scanners (as shown).
Hand-held Tips:
The old standard hand-held device design (like that shown) have little
use in a warehouse outside of maybe a cycle count program.
Instead, use the pistol-grip models which allow your workers to more
quickly holster the device between scans to make use of both their
hands. There are also some newer more ergonomic hand-held devices that provide similar functionality to a pistol grip, but in a different form factor.
Keep the prompts as simple as possible. The prompts should show
only the bare minimum amount of data necessary to perform the task.
Minimize or eliminate data entry on keypads or touch screens. As I said before,
the keypads on these devices are difficult to use especially with alpha
characters. Limit data entry to numeric data as much as possible
and also eliminate the need to have to enter tabs or enter keys.
Phones used as portable bar code computers?
From a computing standpoint, our cell phones today have far more computing capabilities than you need for these types of tasks. The build-in cameras are capable of scanning bar codes, and there are also some free or very cheap apps available that will give you some inventory tracking capabilities. So why not just use your phone? Well, I’m not saying you can’t, but there are some things to consider. In my experience, scanning bar codes with the phone camera is not as fast as using a purpose-built laser or ccd scanner, and doesn’t scan well from distances. Plus, the form-factor of the phone isn’t neccessarily the best for warehouse work. There are some purpose-build bar code scanners that can be attached to some models of phones, or you can use a wireless scanner as an input device to overcome the camera-scanning issues. And there are even some “purpose-built” portable devices that are essentially a phone with some modifications. This is an area that continues to change, so while I still think operations with high transactional volume would be better off with purpose-built devices, a cell phone is a potential option in other operations.
Vehicle-mounted devices.
Vehicle-mounted devices have several
advantages over hand held devices including larger screens (even up to
full sized screens), larger keypads similar to a standard keyboard on a
portable computer, and you can’t drop, loose, or forget to charge them.. When using a full-screen vehicle-mounted device,
integration can be much simpler as you can use your existing programs
designed for desktop computers (although you should still consider
simplifying the screens). Obviously you need to be performing tasks
using some type of a vehicle (lift truck, tug, cart, etc) to use a
vehicle-mount device. Generally, vehicle-mounted devices use a
separate wired or wireless bar-code scanner to input data. Tips
for using vehicle-mounted devices are similar to those for hand-helds
(simple prompts, minimize data entry) but you should also consult with
your vehicle manufacturer for recommendations on where to mount the
device to ensure safe operation of the vehicle.
Wearable Systems.
Wearable systems will likely have the most
growth in coming years. Currently offerings in wearable systems
are limited and include devices like
WS series (nicknamed the Gladiator) that is strapped to the
wrist/forearm and uses a small ring-type laser scanner for reading bar
codes, or the Talkman from
which is designed for voice systems (more on voice systems below).
Wearable systems provide the functionality of hand-held devices while
still allowing workers to use both hands. I should caution you
that several hand-held manufacturers have taken their hand-held devices,
put them in a fanny pack, connected them to a voice headset or ring
scanner and call them a “wearable system”. While technically this
is a wearable system, I personally would not want to carry around the
added bulk and weight of a device designed with an LCD display and
keypad for 8 hours a day just because the manufacturer didn’t want to
make the effort to design a wearable-specific device.
Portable Computer Links
Voice Technology
Voice technology (a. k. a. Speech-based systems) has come of age in
recent years and is now a very viable and desirable solution in
warehouse and shop floor data collection applications. Voice
technology is really composed of two technologies. Voice Directed, which
converts computer data into audible commands, and Speech Recognition,
which allows user voice input to be converted into data. Portable
voice systems consist of a headset with a microphone and a wearable
The advantages of voice systems are hands-free and eyes-free
operation that allows people to communicate with a computer the way
people communicate with each other. Applications for voice systems
include order picking, quality inspection, shipping, receiving, cycle
Speech recognition capabilities have been gradually improving through
better software and hardware, however, this is not yet a perfected
technology. To compensate for problems associated with speech
recognition, you really need to limit the speech input to a fairly short
list of keywords and phrases for commands, and primarily numeric
characters for voice data input. Alpha characters would have to be
spoken phonetically ( Alpha, Bravo, Charlie,… Zulu) to maintain an
acceptable level of accuracy. Fortunately, many warehouse and shop
floor tasks can be performed very effectively within these limitations.
Technology Links
RFID, Radio Frequency Identification. Refers to devices
attached to an object that transmit data to an RFID receiver.
These devices can be large pieces of hardware the size of a small book
like those attached to ocean containers, or very small devices inserted
into a label on a package. RFID has advantages over bar codes such
as the ability to hold more data, the ability to change the stored data
as processing occurs, does not require line-of-site to transfer data,
and is very effective in harsh environments where bar code labels won’t
work. RFID is not without it’s own problems, RF signals can be
compromised by materials such as metals and liquids.
A little RFID vocabulary:
Active tags
are RFID tags that contain their own power source
(battery) and have longer read ranges.
Passive tags
are powered by the signal generated from the reader
Read/write tags
can have their data changed.
Read only tags
are programmed once and their data cannot be changed.
EPC (electronic product code)
is a set of standards designed to
utilize RFID technology for the tracking of individual items as well as
cases and pallets. EPC is similar to UPC used for bar code tracking of
consumer goods.
GTAG (global tag)
is an international RFID standard that can be
used for general asset tracking.
RFID Reader,
also known as an interrogator, is a device that reads
RFID tags.
Although RFID technology is getting a lot of attention these days it
still tends to be cost prohibitive for most inventory tracking
applications. As chip prices go down you will continue to see
growth in the application of RFID, however, as in the case of 2D bar
codes, many warehouse and shop floor application simply don’t require
this added functionality. The low cost 1D bar code will likely continue
to be the technology of choice for many inventory tracking applications.
More info on RFID is available at my
RFID Updates
RFID Links
Optical character recognition (OCR)
For years OCR has been used in mail sorting and document management,
but has had very little application in warehouse and manufacturing
operations primarily because it is not as accurate as bar code
technology. While I don’t necessarily see OCR entering the
warehouse in the near future, I’m not ready to write off the technology.
As hardware and software improves we may see this “old” technology make
a comeback. The primary advantage of OCR is that it can read the
same characters that a human can read, eliminating the need for both a
bar code and human readable text on labels, documents, etc. It also
provides the ability to input data from documents that do not
include bar coded information.
Light systems
Although some may argue whether or not a pick-to-light system is an
ADC technology, the fact is they accomplish some of the same tasks.
Pick-to-light systems consist of lights and LED displays for each pick
location. The system uses software to light the next pick and
display the quantity to pick. Pick-to-light systems have the
advantage of not only increasing accuracy, but also increasing
productivity. Since hardware is required for each pick location,
pick-to-light systems are easier to cost justify where very high picks
per SKU occur. Carton flow rack and horizontal carousels are good
applications for pick to light. In batch picking, pick to light is
also incorporated into the cart or rack that holds the cartons or totes
that you are picking into (put-to-light). See article on
Integration of ADC Technology
While hardware costs of ADC equipment continue to come down, the cost
of integration will often prove to be the project buster. Software
and Integration costs will often be several times the cost of the
hardware, especially in smaller operations where only a few devices will
be used.
Integration of ADC technologies is also far from standardized.
For example, when implementing an F system with portable terminals, one
integrator may create a program on the terminals that will write
directly to the file on the host system, another may create programs on
a separate server to do this, another may write or modify a program on
your host system and use terminal emulation software, and another may
use a screen mapping tool to reformat an existing program to be used on
the portable device. Make sure you do your homework and talk to
several integrators to ensure you are getting the best solution.
Also make sure you participate heavily in equipment selection and
program/process design (prompts, data input) to ensure you get a system
that provides the highest levels of accuracy and productivity.
There are also integration tools available that allow non-programmers
(you will need some pretty good computer skills though) to integrate
these technologies with host systems. These tools will not have
the functionality and flexibility of a good custom written program but
may be adequate for simple applications.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) often come with interfaces to
specific ADC equipment. If your looking to add ADC to your
warehouse you may want to first look at a WMS (read
my article on WMS).
One of the biggest mistakes made when developing an ADC project is
that people approach ADC as an “all or nothing” project. The end
result being that the when the project is quoted it tends to come in too
costly to ever get implemented. There is rarely significant
financial benefit to using the “big bang” approach to ADC projects, so
start small with the processes that can best benefit from the
application of ADC and add on other processes later.
Mixing ADC Technologies, AKA Multimodal Data Collection.
Mixing ADC technologies is becoming more common. See my article on
Multimodal Data
Related terminology from the
Dictionary Glossary
ADC, Automated Data Collection
aka AIDC, Automatic Identification &
Data Collection. Systems of hardware and software used to process
transactions in warehouses and manufacturing operations. Data
collection systems may consist of fixed terminals, portable terminals
and computers, Radio frequency (RF) terminals, and various types of bar
code scanners.
ASN, Advanced Shipment Notification.
Advanced shipment
notifications are used to notify a customer of a shipment. ASNs
will often include PO numbers, SKU numbers, lot numbers, quantity,
pallet or container number, carton number. ASNs may be
paper-based, however, electronic notification is preferred.
Advanced shipment notification systems are usually combined with
bar-coded compliance labeling which allows the customer to receive the
shipment into inventory through the use of bar code scanners and
automated data collection systems.
The functionality of a bar-code reader to
recognize the bar code symbology being scanned thus allowing a reader to
read several different symbologies consecutively.
Charged Coupled Device. Used to describe a type of barcode
scanner that acts like a small digital camera that takes a digital image
of the barcode as opposed to the standard barcode scanner that uses a
laser. CCD scanners are a low cost option for scanning barcodes at
a short distance (usually within a few inches).
Compliance labels.
Standardized label formats used by trading
partners usually containing bar codes. Compliance labels are used as
shipping labels, container/pallet labels, carton labels, piece labels.
Many bar code labeling software products now have the more common
compliance label standards set up as templates.
Program generator
a. code generator, development tools.
Program generators are software programs that generally provide
graphical user interfaces and tools that allow a user to create a
program without having to write actual computer code. Currently, these
programs are more frequently referred to as “development tools” and are
usually designed to write code for specific applications such as data
collection programs for portable computers. While a user does not
need to be a programmer to use this software, the user does need to have
a higher level of technical skills than that of most standard software
Radio frequency (RF).
In warehousing refers to the portable
data collection devices that use radio frequency to transmit data to
host system.
RFID, Radio frequency identification.
Refers to devices
like those attached to ocean containers or very small devices inserted
into a label on a package. RFID has advantages over Bar codes such
as processing occurs, does not require line-of-site to transfer data and
is very effective in harsh environments where bar code labels won’t
RTLS, Real-time locator system.
A real-time locator
system uses RFID technology that provides the objects they are attached
to the ability to transmit their current location. System requires
some type of RFID tag to be attached to each object that needs to be
tracked, and RF transmitters/receivers located throughout the facility
to determine the location and send information to computerized tracking
system. While it sounds like a great way to eliminate “lost” inventory,
the systems are still too costly for most inventory tracking operations
and are more likely to be used to track more valuable assets.
Screen mapping.
a. Screen scraping Software that provides
the functionality to change the arrangement of data fields on a computer
screen that accesses a mainframe computer program. Screen mapping
is frequently used in combination with terminal-emulation software to
“remap” data fields from a standard mainframe program to be used on the
smaller screen of a portable hand-held device.
Speech-based technology.
Speech-based technology, also known as
voice technology is really composed of two technologies: Voice
directed, which converts computer data into audible commands, and speech
recognition, which allows user voice input to be converted into data.
Portable voice systems consist of a headset with a microphone and a
wearable computer.
Terminal emulation.
Software used on desktop and portable
computers that allows the computer to act like a terminal connected to a
mainframe system. If you have a networked desktop PC and are accessing
mainframe programs ( a. green screen programs) you are using
terminal emulation. Terminal emulation is also a common method
used to connect portable computers (as in warehouse bar code data
collection systems) to mainframe software.
WMS, Warehouse Management System.
Computer software
designed specifically for managing the movement and storage of materials
throughout the warehouse. WMS functionality is generally broken
down into the following three operations: putaway, replenishment,
and picking. The key to these systems is the logic to direct these
operations to specific locations base on user defined criteria.
WMSs are often set up to integrate with data collection systems.
Read my article on Warehouse Management Systems.
Links to
ADC equipment manufacturers
Also read my article on
Multi-modal Data
Go to Articles Page for more articles by
Dave Piasecki.
Dave Piasecki, is owner/operator of
Operations Consulting LLC, a consulting firm providing services
related to inventory management, material handling, and warehouse
operations. He has over 25 years experience in operations management and
can be reached through his website (),
where he maintains additional relevant information.

Frequently Asked Questions about automated data collection

What are some characteristics of automated data collection?

5 Advantages of automatic data capture system (ADCS)Improved Clarity and Efficiency. Replacing physical documents with digital copies reduces clutter in your workplace. … Faster Turnaround. … Reduces Paperwork, Costs, and Frustration. … Reduced Errors. … Automated Data Capture Will Save You Money.Nov 30, 2018

What is also called as automatic data collection?

Automated Data Collection (ADC), also known as Automated Data Capture (ADC), Automated Identification (AutoID), Automated Identification and Data Capture (AIDC), and by many as just “Barcoding” consists of many technologies including some that have nothing to do with bar codes.

Why is automation good for data collection?

When you automate tasks such as invoice and forms processing you greatly improve the efficiency of the office. Businesses expend valuable time, money, and employees on manual data entry. … With automated data collection, software will automatically perform all of these tasks.

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