Importance of bar code verification and why verify barcodesBarcode Verification is the most certain way to ensure that you are printing good barcodes. In today´s world we cannot find a single product without a barcode associated with it. Bar Codes are the least expensive and reliable way of entering data. Barcode Verification is the best way to ensure 100% scannability.
In todays world of highly automated systems like material handling, medical and large retail store chains just to name a few, barcodes are required in various forms like UPC / EAN Labels, Compliance Labels ... which are readable for the first time and every time it is going to be scanned.
So how do we maintain barcode quality to comply with such standards ? The answer to this is print perfect barcodes or check the barcodes immediately after or during the printing process.
Regardless of how good your printer is, it may not always print perfectly. Thermal printers may have ribbon wrinkles, blown head elements, improper heat and speed settings or a miss-marriage of ribbon and face stock. Impact printers may have miss-aligned hammers or an over used ribbon. Laser printers may have fuser problems, low toner or a face stock that is improperly top coated. Lastly, ink jet systems contend with clogged jets, low contrast and differing substrates. With that being said, printers today do produce high quality print and any printer type, if properly maintained, will print good bar codes, most of the time. However, this may even make the problem worse. Knowing that the printer is likely to print a good code means that inspection becomes less appealing. Companies cannot afford to have someone do constant visual inspection and if they could the inspector would rapidly lose interest. This means that bar codes go unchecked. Here we enter the need for barcode verification.
A verifier is not the same as a barcode scanner. A scanner is typically a mass-produced item that provides machine recognition of the data encoded in a bar code symbol. Using a scanner to read a bar code only assures that the scanned bar code has some region on it that is readable, by that scanner. Therefore, the better the scanner, the less bar code quality assurance is maintained. A verifier, on the other hand, is a precision instrument that is made to predict how well the bar code will be read by the typical scanner, any bar code scanner. It should decode, measure and check formatting of even the most inferior symbol and indicate area(s) that are deficient so that corrective action may take place.
Barcodes should be verified during or after the printing process. If you are printing barcodes for others you should verify barcodes to eliminate any faulty barcodes by reprinting them. If you are getting your barcodes from others then you should verify barcodes to find any faults before letting them into the system.
Verification should be done to ensure that any faulty bar codes do not enter the system to avoid faulty scanning. If a bar code does not scan at all then the data has to entered manually thus increasing the risk of making mistakes and amount of time taken which may cause bottelnecks or may even stop critical applications. If the code reads after several attempts there is a waste of time and a chance of repetitive movement injuries and if a code reads with errors then incorrect data will enter your database.
Every industry that has a high cost associated with printing bad bar codes should have a verification system in place. Let’s face it, if the cost of printing a bad bar code is non-existent or minimal there is no need to check the code.
However, the converse is also true. If by printing a bad bar code you receive fines, potentially lose business, have to do costly re-work or have other potential high cost repercussions then a verification system is warranted.
Many industries need verification systems. Suppliers to major retail chains need to avoid getting fined for non-readable bar codes. People printing bar codes directly onto corrugated materials need to ensure readability of the code against low contrast. Printing companies providing bar codes printed on press and imprint houses providing bar codes printed on printers can avoid costly re-work of jobs by implementing a verification system. Medical and pharmaceutical suppliers need to ensure properly marked product to avoid dispensation of incorrect materials. Chemical companies need to ensure properly marked product to avoid costly fines and law suits. Suppliers to the automotive industry need to ensure labels meet the AIAG specification. Suppliers to the USPS should check the quality of their linear codes to meet the Postal specifications. Anyone running a highly automated warehouse that uses scanners to route packages can avoid bottlenecks and stops by putting a barcode verification system in place. Many industries should have barcode verification equipment due to substantial repercussions for printing bad codes.
One last thought, if you are spending thousands of dollars on an AIDC system with labeling, data collection, inventory control or the like, shouldn’t you ensure that the bar codes for that system are able to be read correctly?
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