Verifiers are expensive. Sometimes companies are reluctant to invest the money and once they finally do, they are reluctant to let go of an old verifier that still works. But sometimes an old verifier that works is worse than one that does not work. Here are some reasons why.
“Working” is one thing; “functioning properly” is another. Just because the lights still light and the display still reports something does not mean that old verifier is trustworthy. Lots can go wrong—and with precision instruments, they usually do.
Lots of things can go wrong with an old verifier
Leaking batteries can corrode circuitry and components on an old verifier, causing electrical performance to change in ways they were not designed to. This can skew test results. Circuit boards and components can also be damaged when incorrect batteries, with too high or too low a power ratings are used, even if battery leakage never occurs.
Electronic drift can occur over time, even if the correct batteries have always been used in your old verifier—this can also be true of wall-current powered verifiers.
An old verifier can be a mixed bag of problems and mysteries yo don’t even know about
An old verifier may have scratched, cracked or broken optics on scanner windows or wand tips. This can make verifier grading inconsistent and inaccurate. Damaged wand tips caused by dropping are an often-undetected problem. Working environments in which verifiers are used can be rough and dirty places. While most verifiers are built to work in these places, damage can result in inaccurate grading which can be costly: pessimistic verifier readings can cause needless remakes of perfectly good products; optimistic verifier readings can lose you a good customer.
Frayed or bared wiring, or strained cable terminations can change the electrical properties of a scanner, and affect the readings from an old verifier. Many QA stations are just a small desk on the production floor. Too much equipment, too many wires and too many users often leads to accidental drops or wires crushed under a boot or forklift wheel.
Dirt is probably the most common cause of verifier inaccuracy, both in terms of the equipment never getting cleaned, as well as getting cleaned inappropriately. An old verifier in a corrugated plants has been subjected to constant infiltration of dust; Ink on the hands of workers in printing plants ends up all over the verifier, including the scanner window or wand tip. Cleaning is a must but it should be done carefully, with soft lens-quality solvents and wipes.
A verifier is like motor oil–replace it when its old even it it’s relatively unused
Verifiers are like motor oil—they should be replaced periodically based on their age alone, regardless of how much or how little they have been used. At very least, an old verifier should be periodically tested for accuracy. This is not the same thing as reflectance calibration—the reflectance calibration card that comes with most verifiers does not check the verifier against the ANSI/ISO specification. That is often done by returning the verifier to the manufacturer, but it can also be done by the user. GS1 sells Calibrated Conformance Standard Test Cards for this purpose. Depending on what symbology you will be verifying, a GS1 CCSTC will cost from $490 for a single card to $1910 for a set of cards. Click here to order.
If you have been wise enough to invest in a bar code verifier, you are part of the way toward protecting yourself against the devastation of a poor quality bar code. Don’t trust an old verifier to do such a critical mission—replace it every few years. Worry about growing your business, not about your bar codes shrinking your business.