GS1 compliant barcodes now in mSupply

We’re pleased to announce the availability of barcode scanning in mSupply version 4.02.
Here’s a quick Q&A:

Q: Will it make running a warehouse super-reliable, reduce workloads, eliminate errors and make everyone happy?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Well, as of writing, less that 10% of items coming into a warehouse in the developing world will have a properly formatted barcode. This means you get a lot of extra work that goes like this:

  • You receive an item into your warehouse. If it has a proper barcode, you’re good to go.
  • If it has a non-compliant barcode or no barcode you have look up the item in mSupply.
    • If the item already has a barcode, you print barcode labels and apply one label to each box.
    • If the item doesn’t have a barcode assigned, you assign one then follow the same procedure as in the previous point
  • Every time you open an outer carton or split a pallet you have to evaluate the items, and print and hand label every item that doesn’t have a compliant barcode.

Q: What standards do you follow?

A: We comply with multiple standards simultaneously:

  • We’re fully GS1 compliant
  • We follow the Indian government’s standards for barcoding of medicines
  • We support the use of The mSupply Foundation’s open source universal code server to link a universal generic code to a particular GS1 manufacturer code.

Q: What can I do with barcodes once I’ve labelled everything?

A: You can:

  • Perform a stocktake on a section of your warehouse using your scanner.
  • Verify that the goods picked match what is specified on a pick list.

Q: What’s coming next?

A: We’ve got a long list of things we’re working on:

  • Once more than just a smattering of items are correctly labelled by manufacturers we’ll introduce scanning of incoming goods.
  • The mSupply Foundation is working on version 2 of the universal code server. This will enable synchronisation of GS1 barcodes on a global scale, quickly providing a large pre-populated database of barcodes to sites using LMIS software that support universal codes.
  • Counterfeit medicines are a huge problem in some parts of the world. We’ll be working on bringing serialization to mSupply, and providing a way to verify the authenticity of medicines.

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