Things to scan on the shop floor

This a list of things employees can scan on the shop floor. Consult the “Barcode Basics” video and FAQ page if you are unfamiliar with scanning barcodes in manufacturing.


Also, consider visiting Set up shop floor for barcode scanning for setup advice.


The items below are normally printed on barcode labels and made available to employees. You can do that with MS Word or Excel, which means labels can be printed on work orders or travelers along with other text. Almost any printer will work. Just enter text into any program then select the barcode font. The text will come out of the printer as a scannable label. The Barcode basics page has a download link for a font named IDAutomation. It is free.




Employee name

This is usually the first thing to scan before anything else. It identifies the username or employee doing the work. You can print this barcode label as an employee badge, or post it on a workbench to scan. (See Tools, Users and Organization) You’ll likely only print this barcode label once, and reuse it many times.

Employee ID

You can optionally scan an employee ID instead of the name. Scanning the ID has the same effect as scanning the name above.


This is a unique job number or name, and is usually the second barcode label to scan, just after username. It is the name of a project in Standard Time. (See Tools, Projects) Scanning this tells ST which job the employee is working on. Every time log in Standard Time requires a username and project.

Project code

This is similar to the job name above. Optionally scan a project code instead of the name. It has the same effect as the name.

Project task

Scanning project tasks is optional but recommended. Task names can be seen in the Project Tasks tab in ST. (Or, see File, Project Wizard) Each project can have a unique set of tasks, or the same ones. Task names do not need to be unique. You could use the same tasks for every project. Scanning the job name before the task identifies the work being performed. Normally, a timer will start immediately after scanning task names.


Scan the word STOP to stop a running timer. Normally, the username must be scanned first to identify which timer to stop. Each user has their own timer. See the Time Log view for running timers.


This “combination” scan contains the employee name and the word STOP on the same barcode label. It’s a shortcut for the username followed by a second scan of the word STOP.


Scanning “COMPLETED” is an alternative to scanning STOP. It performs two functions: stops the running timer, and marks the project task as complete. This is a convenient way to communicate the completion of a step or phase of a job to managers. After scanning supervisors and managers know this step has been completed.


This is another alternative to scanning STOP. It is similar to scanning COMPLETED. The timer is stopped, the task is marked complete, and percent complete is set to 100.


Scan the word CLEAR to clear the screen to start over. This clears previous input, allowing you to begin again. It can also be useful when sharing a scanning station and another employee has just finished. Clear their input before scanning your own. CLEAR does not stop a running timer. Scan STOP to do that. Or, scan CANCELTIMER to delete the last timer that was started.


CANCEL is an alternative to CLEAR. It does not stop a running timer. Scan STOP to do that. Or, scan CANCELTIMER to delete the last timer that was started.


This scan deletes a running timer. It is useful when a timer has started but you quickly realize that you made a mistake. Just scan CANCELTIMER to delete that last timer so you can start over.


This two-word scan displays the number of hours an employee has worked on the current shift or the current day. It’s useful feedback for employees who wonder how long they have worked today.


Scan this to restart a timer with the same information as your last job. Sometimes, employees perform the same work multiple times a day with breaks in between. For them, restarting the last task on the last job is common. This single scan offers that convenience.

Expense template name

Scan the name of any expense template to create a new expense record based on that template. See the timesheet for expense templates. Scanning the username and project before the template is useful to identify the template from others with the same name. Standard Time will find the template under the project that was just scanned. If no project is scanned, the first template with that name is used. A new expense record is created based on that template.

Inventory name

This the name of an inventory item. (See Tools, Inventory and Bill of Materials) Scan the name to deduct one item from stock. If an inventory item has sub-items, as with Bill of Materials, each sub-item will be deducted as well. Optionally, expense records may be created to record the date and time that the scan occurred. Certain optional events may also occur when inventory falls below the “reorder quantity.” Email notifications may go out, replenish projects may be created, and scripts may be called.

Inventory SKU, Code, Vendor SKU, Mfg SKU

These are alternatives to scanning inventory name. Any of these inventory fields does the same thing. This makes it convenient to scan SKU labels placed by manufacturers.


Scan this special barcode label to add new inventory into stock. This is normally performed when materials appear at the receiving dock and need to be added to inventory. Example: ADD-280-RODS increases rods by two-hundred-eighty items.


This special scan deducts multiple items from stock. This is the same as scanning an inventory name, but with the effect of reducing stock by a specified number. Example: SUB-50-PANELS takes fifty panels from stock.


Scan this to prompt for the number of items to deduct from stock. A small window appears, asking for the number of items to deduct. Users enter a value and click OK. Inventory stock is reduced by the number they enter.


These scans prompt for an inventory name or SKU, then a quantity. Once the prompts are satisfied, the inventory item will be added or deducted by the quantity entered. One good thing about this scan sequence is that you don't need to build barcode labels with the keywords "ADD-N-" or "PROMPT-" in them. The labels can be simple names or SKU's only.

Tool name

Scan “CHECKOUT TOOLNAME” to check a tool out of stock. Scan “CHECKIN TOOLNAME” to check it back in. This is a simple means of tool control for accountability. A full history of the tool is available for review. (See Tools, Tool Control)

Tool code, serial number

Scanning CHECKOUT and CHECKIN with the tool code or serial number is the same as scanning the name. Both have the same result. The tool is checked in or out to the employee, and a date/time stamp is recorded. This is a convenient way to scan existing manufacturer SKU labels rather than printing your own.

Client name

Scanning a client name is normally not necessary. Clients are already assigned to jobs so scanning a job results in an automatic acknowledgement of the client. But if a job does not have a client assigned you can scan it separately to associate a client with the work being performed. (See Tools, Clients)

Category name

Scanning categories is not normally necessary, especially when scanning project tasks. Categories are assigned to tasks, so scanning a task has the effect of automatically acknowledging the category. But if no tasks are assigned to a project then scanning a category will associate it with the work being performed. (See Tools, Categories)

Script name

Scanning script names is an advanced topic, best configured with help from Standard Time support personnel. Scripts can perform operations specific to your company. Examples are special emails sent during work on the shop floor, special database queries or entries, opening documents or drawings, or sending status back to managers. (See Tools, Scripts)

Script code

Scanning a script code is an alternative to scanning the name. The effect is the same.

Work order name

Scanning work order names is normally not necessary. Consider scanning project and task names instead. The only value in scanning a work order name is to associate that work order with the resulting time log. That is normally not necessary. A simple project and task is normally enough for reporting purposes.


Employees can use this scan to communicate project status from the shop floor. The status scanned here is saved with the current project record. This can be used to tell managers when a project reaches a stage or step in the overall process. Project and task status can be displayed in the WIP screen. (See View Work In Progress)


Scan this special barcode to communicate the status of the current task to managers. The status scanned here is saved in the task record. Employees can use this to tell managers when a stage or step in the process has been reached.


Work order status can be communicated from the shop floor with this special barcode label. Consider scanning PRSTATUS instead. PRSTATUS sets the project status rather than work order record.


Scan this to add one to the “Qty built” value in a work order record. Each time a new item is built, this scan will increment the value and help communicate the status of the work order to managers.


Scanning this special barcode label creates a single completed time log with the value in the “Text 1” field. This simple scan is used for status only. It is not for time tracking. It does not record the duration of time worked. It is only to enter a new time log for status, reporting and documentation.


Scan this optional barcode label to add one to the quantity field on the running time log. This allows operators and employees to communicate progress on a work order. The Qty field can be used for Overall Equipment Effectiveness calculation. OEE = QTY% * PASS% * SPEED%


This scan is similar to QTY-ADD-N. It sets the current quantity for the running time log instead of adding one to it.


This optional scan allows employees to set the number of items that have passed QA inspection. The “Qty passed” field will be updated on the current running time log. The “Qty passed” field can be used for Overall Equipment Effectiveness calculation. OEE = QTY% * PASS% * SPEED%


This is similar to the PASS-ADD-N scan. It sets the “Qty passed” field instead of incrementing it.


Scanning this optional label sets the “Speed” field of the running time log. This is another employee communication method to record the speed of the current equipment in use at this time. The Speed field can be used for Overall Equipment Effectiveness calculation. OEE = QTY% * PASS% * SPEED%


The “++” separator allows you to scan a single barcode with multiple values embedded in one label. This simplifies scanning by reducing the number of distinct scans required. Any distinct scan above can be combined with any other using the “++” separator character sequence. QR codes are often used to save space when large sequences of characters must be scanned.

Required Scans

Additional scans may collect special information that is saved to time logs. That information may be used for reporting, calculations, KPI’s, dashboards, displays, or other management purposes. An example is “Qty”. An additional popup could be created to ask for the quantity of items built. When operators scan or enter a value, it is saved in the Qty field of the new time log.




How to start a timer with barcodes

Scan sequence


1. Username

The employee who will be performing the work

2. Project name

The work order number or name that will be worked on

3. Task name

The task or step or phase of the work in progress


Normally, after scanning these three items, a timer will start. You can see the results in the Time Log in Standard Time. Each time log will contain a start time, stop time, actual duration, employee, project, task, and other information useful for reporting and calculations. Administrators can configure additional “Required Scans” to appear after scan #3, and must be completed before the timer will start.




How to stop a running timer with barcodes


Scan sequence


1. Username

The employee timer to stop


The word STOP ends the timer


All timers, whether running or stopped are visible in the Time Log view in Standard Time. Running timers will not contain a Stop time. After scanning STOP, the Stop time will be filled in and the record is considered complete. All jobs in progress are displayed in the WIP screen. See View, Work In Progress.




Default values supplied instead of scanning

You can optionally configure Standard Time or BC to automatically supply the following information with every scan. This reduces the number of required scans and simplifies employee input. The values below are normally scanned manually, in sequence. But they can be automatically supplied when the information never changes. An example might be that “John” always works in “Welding” at a certain workbench. The username John can be selected as a default item for a certain tablet workstation. The word “Welding” could be automatically supplied as the location. With this information automatically supplied, John only needs to scan a work order number and task. That has reduced the redundancy and monotony of the scanning process and made John’s life a little easier.


Default item



An employee who always works at one workstation


A project that is always underway at one workstation


A task that is always performed at a workstation

Text 1

Any special value you wish to collect at a workstation

Text 2

A second value

Text 3

A third value


The location this workstation is placed at


The device or machine this workstation is placed at



Where do I start barcoding on the shop floor?

Follow these general steps to begin scanning barcodes.

  1. Choose Tools, Users and Organization to see your username
  2. Print a label for that username (Use the IDAutomation font in MS Word)
  3. Choose File, Project Wizard to create a new project and tasks
  4. Print barcode labels for the new project and tasks
  5. Press the F4 window to begin accepting barcode scans
  6. Scan the username
  7. Scan the project name
  8. Scan a task name
  9. The timer will start
  10. Click the “Time Log” tab to see the new timer
  11. Perform the task you scanned
  12. Scan your usename again, after the task is complete
  13. Scan STOP to stop the timer
  14. Check the Time Log to view the completed scan



What's next for barcoding?

Shop Floor Basics




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Set up shop floor for barcode scanning

Follow the guidelines below to set up your manufacturing shop floor for barcode scanning. If your shop is largely manual, with paper employee timesheets, or verbal work order tracking, or limited job tracking and no project management, then this article is for you. You will learn the basics of retooling your factory floor with barcode scanners to gather data directly from the operators. You will capture employee time, work order hours, job tasks, work in progress, inventory, and tool usage. The data you collect will end up in the back office computers, and can be used for reporting and analysis. New time and material records will appear every minute, and you will have full reporting capabilities to learn where your time and money is spent, what your employees are working on, where your jobs are, and what materials you need to order.

It all starts with barcode tracking on the shop floor. Click here for: Things to scan on the shop floor

shop floor setup shop floor setup shop floor setup


Bookmark it now!

Consider bookmarking this page and coming back to review from time to time. Even if you read it all in one setting, it’s worth a re-read every so often. Each section below describes one aspect of the shop floor setup that enables you to achieve your vision. But the heart of it all is simply taking scans from operators on the manufacturing floor and feeding that into a database. Most of that can be accomplished in one day. Contact us for a web meeting to learn more.


Barcode scanners

barcode scanners barcode scanners barcode scanners


Start with a $20 barcode scanner from amazon. Just search amazon for “barcode scanner” and you’ll find several options. Buy one and connect it to a USB port. You can always upgrade later once you have some experience with the basic scanners.

For $20 you can explore 95% of what this article describes.

You can download Standard Time® for free. You can download a barcode font and print labels for free. You can set up the software for free. That means you can begin collecting actual scans from the shop floor the day your scanner arrives.

Once you start collecting scans, you may be surprised at what you find. It will change your thinking.

Try this link to check amazon for scanners:


(We have no financial interest in barcode products on amazon)



Tablets on the shop floor

barcode tablet collection barcode tablet collection barcode tablet collection


Consider deploying Windows 10 tablets on the shop floor for data collection. They are cheaper and more versatile than PC’s, laptops or notebooks. Aside from the price, the biggest value is that you don’t sit down in front of a keyboard and mouse. Tablets can be used on any working position, including walking, standing, or sitting.

The Walmart Windows 10 Nextbook Flexx is a good option. It’s inexpensive and virtually disposable. You can deploy a simple data collection app that does nothing but grab barcode scans and send them to the database. No admin capabilities are allowed. Operators simply scan projects, tasks, inventory, BOM’s, tools, and other factory floor items. Now you’re collecting all the data to make intelligent choices. You can get a Nextbook for about $100.

Try this link to check amazon for Nextbook tablets:


(We have no financial interest in Nextbook products)



Work In Progress on the big screen

work in progress work in progress work in progress


The first thing you’ll expect to see from barcode scans is job status. I.e. Work in Progress. Consider deploying a low-cost Windows tablet on the shop floor for a big-screen WIP display. That PC does nothing but run the display. No special system requirements are needed. The simplest Windows tablet or PC works fine.

The WIP screen displays a list of the most recent jobs that have gone into production. It looks like those arrivals and departures screens at the airport. Each line is a job or work order. Status updates regularly, and shows information like recent job activity, percent complete, department, employee, stages, tasks, etc. You configure the status for your purposes. You can even display KPI’s specific to your line of business.

Use this link to see how WIP job status works:



Barcode font and barcode labels

barcode font barcode font barcode font


To scan barcode labels, you will likely need a barcode font. This lets you create your own labels or print barcodes on existing work orders. With a barcode font you can print labels from any word processor or spreadsheet. If you’re already printing work orders, just add some space for a barcode label.

After installing a barcode font, simply select some text and change the font. The result will be a 1D barcode you can print on any printer.

Consider adding space to your printed work orders for the barcode label and any tasks related to it. Operators scan the work order number first, and then scan a task to tell what they are doing. Learn more about tasks below.

Use this link to download a barcode font:



Do you need QR codes?

Maybe; if you are collecting large amounts of data, or using multi-part data collection. But normally, 1D barcodes labels work just fine. Certain applications require more data on each scan, which is where QR codes can help. QR codes allow for hundreds of characters in a small two-dimensional space. All that data can be entered into multiple fields on one scan. But if your needs are simple, then 1D barcode labels will be all you need.



Projects and tasks

project tasks project tasks project tasks


Projects and tasks may not be the terms you use for job steps or phases, but they represent the same things. In other words, for every work order or job, you’ll create a new project. And for every step or phase in those jobs, you’ll need a project task. Operators scan both projects and tasks to start timers.

Timers run while workers perform their tasks. When the work is complete the timer stops with just a few more scans. That gives you timestamps for both the start and ending times. You now know the duration of that segment of work, the employee who performed it. You know the task they performed, and many other things that are automatically computed or assigned. Operators simply scan their work and you automatically get the information you need.

Use this link to see how project task status helps incentivize workers:




Employee Status

employee status employee status employee status


This is another area where a big screen can help. Consider putting the Employee Status window on a big-screen monitor for everyone to see. It’s another “airport arrival and departure” style screen that displays the status of every employee. The same tablet or PC that hosts the WIP screen could host the Employee Status screen. Again, you don’t need big hardware for this. Any old PC or tablet will work.

Each line on this screen represents an employee. You’ll see the last activity, the last job and task, and see if a timer is running for each employee. That tells you what each person is doing at a glance. The status is taken from their barcode scans, and displayed on the big screen.

If you mount this in a public place, every employee will see what everyone else is doing. That may be good or bad, depending on your workplace culture. In a good way, everyone will get a new perspective on work in progress.


Server setup

You may be wondering where all the scanned data goes when collected on the manufacturing floor. Obviously it goes into a tablet or collection device, but where does it go after that? The answer is, to a central database on a server. In this case, the database is “Microsoft SQL Server” or “SQL Express.”

SQL Express is free from Microsoft. SQL Server is the paid upgrade. You can use either edition, and any version of SQL.

Setting up the shop floor for barcode data collection also means setting up a shared SQL database that all devices can connect to. Those devices may connect over a LAN connection, Wi-Fi, or a VPN WAN arrangement. LAN and Wi-Fi are the most common.

Tablets usually use Wi-Fi connections, but can just as easily use a USB Ethernet device for hard LAN connections. Hard LAN connections are more reliable than Wi-Fi.

An installation guide is available to connect to SQL Express or SQL Server. It can be done in a few hours.


RFID’s are sort-of like barcodes

rfids rfids rfids


Barcodes are not the only way to collect data. RFID tags are a simple and inexpensive way to track jobs or items. From a data collection perspective, they operate exactly like barcodes. RFID tag values are picked up by proximity readers and transmitted to a tablet or PC in the form of text. Those readers connect to USB ports, just like barcode scanners. This is exactly how barcodes arrive at the same devices. Because RFID’s and barcodes come into data collection computers in identical manner, you are able to use them almost interchangeably. In other words, use an RFID tag where you might use a barcode label. The results will be similar.


Getting started

Don’t wait for all the information before getting started. That’s a mistake a lot of people make. They believe they must collect every possible detail before moving forward. That usually leads to “analysis paralysis” when other daily concerns take front stage.

The best approach is to buy a barcode scanner and get started right away. You’ll soon get the inspiration when data starts pouring in. It may surprise you!


Click here for: Things to scan on the shop floor





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