Chain of Thought

Bert Moore: A Bar Code User's Best Friend.

Bar codes have become a business basic. That's what worried Bert Moore. He was instrumental in demystifying the technology in its early years. His concern was that maybe he and his colleagues did too good a job.

“The trouble is, the people who were educated about bar code technology 20 years ago have moved up/on/out and the newer people think they know everything, but they often have only a cursory understanding of the technology, standards and applications,” he told me for an MH&L year-end wrap up back in December 2010.

Today I'm feeling a little of the worry that Bert felt—along with a lot of sadness. We just learned that Bert passed away a few days ago after a heart attack while battling lymphoma. With his passing, the material handling and logistics industries lost one of the few people still active in business who had a direct hand in hammering out the language of bar codes. His expertise made him a go-to resource for MH&L and for logistics and supply chain managers immersing themselves in a technology that made their jobs a lot easier.

Ronald Margulis knows something about the need to make this technology easier for end users. He's marketing consultant for the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association (VICS) which pioneered the implementation of the Quick Response standard that simplified the flow of product and information in the retail industry. He appreciated Bert's gifts as an educator.

“Bert excelled at explaining complex issues like automated identification systems to broad and diversified audiences in a way that was both understandable and engaging,” he said. “His passion for the industry showed every time I talked with him, as did his zeal for life. The VICS team will miss him and his insights.”

Bert honed his communications skills at the University of Rhode Island, where he graduated with a B.A. in English. Outside of business his passions were traveling and spending time outdoors. He used his gift for mastering technicalities early on. His brother Steve Moore told me that in high school Bert got the urge to sail, so he bought a boat and a book and taught himself.

Bert also played the guitar, wrote songs and performed at "open-mic" nights at various coffee houses.

He was most proud of his two daughters, Caitlin and Sharon, now 23 and 21` respectively. As for his professional pride he felt most honored when he received the AIM USA Industry Service Award as well as its Excellence in Journalism Award. AIM is the industry trade association for automatic identification and data collection vendors. In fact, Steve told me that after learning of Bert's passing, AIM's management decided to rename the Journalism Award “The Bert Moore Excellence in Journalism Award.”

Over the years, through his IDAT consultancy, Bert dedicated himself to writing and to counseling business people from hundreds of companies. He also developed and presented educational programs for corporate, industry, national and international seminars. All of of this work in the industry qualified him to be a member of the AIDC 100, an international organization of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) professionals who have significantly contributed to the industry's growth and advancement. Fellow AIDC 100 and MH&L Advisory Board member John Hill of St. Onge Supply Chain Engineering adds:

“Bert was unique, not only a tireless proponent and contributor to the evolution of AIDC, but also a raconteur and songwriter whose insights and wry sense of humor enhanced the depth of understanding and level of commitment he brought to our industry for nearly thirty years. We shall miss him.”

I believe it was Bert's role as an active ANSI MH10.8 (bar codes on shipping containers) standards committee member and contributor to many other industry standards efforts that would later lead him to believe that bar coding was in danger of becoming a lost art—even among the purveyors of the technology. Here's what he told me as recently as last year:

“I have heard that bar code label and RFID tag placement, once firmly fixed by EAN/UPC [now GS1] and ANSI standards [lower right-hand corner of the long side] is now getting chaotic per customer requirements. They want the label on the front or top or higher up or somewhere else. But is that because systems integrators are unaware of existing standards and practices or is there some other reason? Maybe that's where the real lack of qualified talent lies—with systems designers and integrators who came into the field after the development of all the bar code standards and who don't understand the struggles we went through to get things standardized.”

There was nothing standard about Bert Moore. He was an invaluable member of MH&L's editorial advisory board, an industry resource with an encyclopedic knowledge of material handling technology, and, most importantly to those who knew him, a genuinely nice and witty friend. If you'd like to know him better, he lives on in MH&L's archives. Just go to www.mhlnews.com and put “Bert” in the search box. From that box you'll extract a wonderful gift from Bert: both a wealth of information and a wish you'd have known him better.

(If you'd like to make a contribution in Bert's name to the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org.)

Related Editorial:

Finding Talent Isn't Enough

Fit RFID to Your Needs

2010 Exit Strategy

Setting MH&L's Agenda

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