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Barcodes and Wifi: A Happy Couple

Imagine manually logging and monitoring the serial numbers for nearly 18,000 spare vehicle parts. Up until six months ago, this is exactly how many of WFP’s truck fleet staff were managing their inventory in more than 50 workshops across ten countries, making spare part management a lengthy process to say the least.

But with a bit of barcoding and a little Wifi magic, these days of manual data entry are gone.

At the beginning of 2013, fleet and workshop staff in ten countries welcomed the upgrades of WFP’s Fleet Management System – a global platform which monitors the spare parts, fuel usage and utilisation rates (among other things) of our 700-strong heavy duty truck fleet.

With the barcode reader in hand, staff can swiftly move about the storeroom, scanning the barcodes of spare parts that they would like to issue, receive or catalogue. The barcoding allows data entry directly from the storeroom into the system via Wifi.

WFP trucksThis change has made a considerable daily impact in the ten countries where it has been rolled out so far, which are not only home to some of our biggest operations, but also host the largest numbers of our all-terrain trucks. Getting connectivity in many of the remote locations where we operate hasn’t been easy, but the effort has been well worth it.

“The barcode scanner is fast and reliable,” says Sohail Asif, who works in WFP’s fleet team in Sudan. “It takes much less time than data entry and needs limited employee training. Our supply chain is also more agile now that we have immediate control over our inventory levels, thanks to quick counting and tracking of stocks.”

The ease of the new barcoding system has helped fleet and workshop teams from Haiti to Ethiopia to Afghanistan to be more efficient in their management of spare parts.

As technology becomes more accessible and deployable to WFP’s fleet operations, our staff continue to assess new systems and IT advancements that will help WFP to be quicker and more efficient in our response efforts. Stay tuned for more updates!