After many months of technical committee work, the ISO has released an update to the ISO 15416 standard for linear barcodes. In common parlance, this known as “continuous” or “fractional” grading and pertains to how the grading for certain barcode quality parameters is calculated and reported.
What Has Changed?
Prior to the update, ISO grades for Symbol Contrast, Modulation, Decodability and Defects (in other words, the graded parameters, as opposed to the pass/fail parameters) were calculated and reported to the nearest whole percentage.
After the update, parameter grades will be calculated and reported to the tenth decimal. As follows for Symbol Contrast and Modulation:
|OLD SYSTEM||NEW SYSTEM|
|59% = 2 (C)||59% = 2.9 (B)|
|60% = 3 (B)||60% = 3.0 (B)|
|61% = 3 (B)||61% = 3.1 (B)|
|62% = 3 (B)||62% = 3.2 (B)|
|63% = 3 (B)||63% = 3.3 (B)|
|64% = 3 (B)||64% = 3.4 (B)|
|65% = 3 (B)||65% = 3.5 (A)|
|66% = 3 (B)||66% = 3.6 (A)|
|67% = 3 (B)||67% = 3.7 (A)|
|68% = 3 (B)||68% = 3.8 (A)|
|69% = 3 (B)||69% = 3.9 (A)|
|70% = 4 (A)||70% = 4.0 (A)|
Percentage values and different for the parameters Decodability and Defects, but fractional grading will provide improved clarity here too.
In the ANSI (A-F) grading system the grade thresholds are unchanged, but additional thresholds have been added. In ISO grading, this clarifies the grade relative to the threshold: in other words, whether a C is a high C, a middle C or a low C. This can be an important insight for monitoring subtle parameter changes during a label print run, for example. The ability to see a gradually degrading parameter makes it possible to anticipate—and therefore avoid—a sudden grade change. Such monitoring is not possible with ANSI grading.
What Does This Mean for You?
The ISO specification change will make your grading more accurate, and in many instances, it will make your barcodes grade higher. It may also give rise to grading discrepancies between upgraded verifiers and non-upgraded verifiers.
The current update affects ISO 15416 for linear barcodes only at this point. It is clear that the ISO organization will impose an update for ISO 15415 for 2D symbols in the near future.
If your organization uses ISO compliant barcode verifiers, you should take steps to update the operating software as soon as possible. The new ISO specification becomes effecting on January 1, 2018.
GS1 has asked all verifier manufacturers to release their software updates In December 2017 so that all users will be compliant by the new year. For Axicon linear software the download link is:
Axicon’s software update for 2D matrix symbologies will be released next week. A notification and link will be sent to you.
If you are a user of non-Axicon verifiers, you are strongly encouraged to contact your verifier manufacturer for update instructions.