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Raising the bar code for inventory managment in rental

Too costly, too cumbersome--that's the opinion most event rental operators hold of bar-coding, the inventory management system that uses scanners to read an item's identifying labels printed with "bars," or lines. This data is fed into various software programs that track and manage it in a myriad of ways.

Edison, N.J.-based Miller’s Rentals & Sales uses bar-coding on some items, and is “thinking of more ways all the time,” reports president Steve Kohn. Before turning to bar-coding a few years ago, “We used the not-reliable, ‘let me look in the back and check’ approach,” he says wryly. At present, Miller’s bar-codes rental contracts and costumes.

Kohn describes the cost to set up and maintain his system as “very inexpensive” and the payoff “immediate.” “It saves time and labor, and the employees think it is great!” he adds. He wishes that he could bar-code “everything,” and sees untapped benefits from the process. “Imagine if you purchase a tent top and it comes with a unique bar code,” he says. “Not only would this assist in the inventory management of the tent, but it could be used to locate flame certificates and to calculate ROI based on usage data.”


Entertainment Lighting Services, which rents and sells lighting, rigging and staging, uses bar-coding on 80 percent of its inventory, according to Mo Kasravi, inventory control and facilities manager for the Sun Valley, Calif.-based company. Although ELS management at first expected it would bar-code only big-ticket items, the three-year-old system has worked so well that “we changed our rules of bar-coding,” Kasravi says. “We bar-code anything that can accept a label,” right down to the 90-cent “cube taps,” the little devices that convert single wall sockets into multiple sockets.

For the full story, see the June issue of Special Events Magazine.

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