When barcodes are the means by which you track anything in your facility, making sure they are accurate and readable is critical. Every barcode that fails to scan turns into lost time, productivity and money. If you are a supplier to a larger retailer or government agency the fines for poor barcodes can cost thousands of dollars and complete rejection of a shipment. With all the resources put towards the production of your products, the last point of failure should be the barcode label.
Barcode verification systems can be a simple spot checking mobile device or integrated into your printing process itself. Making sure you have a solution that will verify to the quality and standards you need to meet is essential to getting the most out of your system. A proper verification system provides the insurance that your barcodes will scan at every level of the supply chain for increased efficiency and smooth customer/supplier relations.
What are the Key Benefits of a Barcode Verification System?
A properly implemented barcode verification system provides the cost saving benefits of:
- Efficiency – Save time by eliminating the need to reprint barcodes.
- Accuracy – Scan every barcode, every time without the errors of manual data entry.
- Compliance – Ensure your barcodes meet the requirements of all your customers.
What is Barcode Verification?
Wherever barcodes are utilized they are only useful to the extent that they can be read accurately and repeatedly. As barcodes turned into a universal tool for tracking goods throughout the world, properly printed barcodes became a necessary requirement for every business. Whether you are using barcodes within your own business our supplying customers with products, un-readable barcodes only create difficulties in every process and result in lost time and money.
Barcode verification is different from basic scanning in that it is not solely concerned with reading the data in the barcode but rather the quality of the print itself. Verification is the process of ensuring the printing of a barcode is up to a high enough degree for consistent reading. There are three parts of the overall verification process:
- Analyzing and measuring the print quality of the barcode to ensure it can be read by even the most basic scanners in a range of environments.
- Confirming the visual qualities of the printed barcode match any specific standards that need to be met like ANSI, CEN, ISO/IEC 15426 or an industry-specific one.
- Decoding the data in the barcode to confirm it has the right data structure and content.
For barcodes that are only being used internally the traditional verification process will normally be sufficient. This process provides a simple pass/fail grading scale of the code and is only checking to make sure the bars of the code are within the tolerances of the symbology specifications. This works well when you are using the same set of scanners and are only concerned with general readability.
The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) grading structure is more robust and looks at bar widths as well as general defects in the print of the barcode. This system provides a letter grade to each barcode (A, B, C, D or F) and a grade of “C” or better is normally the standard to ensure any scanner can read the code. When dealing with contract compliance you will have to have at least a “C” grade but aiming for better quality will ensure less issues down the road overall. While ANSI is the most common standard that is followed there are some industries that have additional requirements that will need to be met as well.
The actual verification process is done with one of two types of verifiers: hand held or on-line. When your volumes are lower and general print issues are not common a hand held unit will often serve your purposes. These tend to either be a self contained mobile device along with a special gun scanner or software that is run on a laptop/tablet that uses also uses a specialized gun scanner. A user manually scans each barcode to get a grading of each code. These types of verifiers are perfect for spot checking barcodes and have varying degrees of reporting features.
On-line verifiers are a bit different in that they mount in front of the printer making the barcodes and actually interface with the printer. This type of verifier is checking every single label you make. With each scan the verifier has the ability to make the printer reprint a poorly printed code and void the original. It will make the printer reprint the barcode several times and if the quality is still poor, it will shut down the printer as there is a greater issue that needs to be addressed. This is obviously the most secure method and is highly recommended if you have contract compliance to meet as a single label can cost you heavily in fines.
Regardless of your use of barcodes, putting a verification procedure in place for your print process is a great insurance against time consuming issues down the road and in some cases thousands of dollars saved.
What Should You Address When Making a Barcode Verification System?
When putting together an effective and suitable barcode verification system there are a few key questions to answer:
- What type of code do you need verify? 1D or 2D?
- Are you verifying codes for internal use or contract compliance?
- How many barcodes will you need to verify daily?
- Do you need a hand held or on-line verifier?
- What printer are you using?
- Will you need traditional or ISO/ANSI verification? Industry specific?
What are the Components of a Barcode Verification System?
All barcode verification systems consist of one of these 2 components:
- Hand held verifier – These verifiers are mobile devices that have a built-in scanner and small display that provides a grading of each barcode. These allow you to spot check barcodes after they are printed and offer printed or downloadable reports on the verified codes.
- On-line verifier – An on-line verifier mounts in front of and connects directly to your printer to check each barcode as it is made. These devices allow you to automatically reprint poorly made barcodes at the printer level or even stop printing if continued poor quality codes are being made. These are best suited for high volume print applications where spot checking is not feasible.