As our name implies, we are a barcode test lab. We get a broad spectrum of barcode types and problems every day. It is a fun and fascinating business, which also provides us with a glimpse into the common and not-so-common problems that confront and vex barcode users.
Another insight this business reveals is the inner workings of barcode verifiers from a user perspective. It is a very human thing to prefer what is familiar, but because our work is often quite technical, we also
really appreciate test devices that help us understand why a barcode is not performing as well as it should. Some verifiers do not do that at all, and other do not do it very well. They are not all the same
Recently we tested barcodes from a user who simply could not read them, and the presumed problem was that the Code 39 symbols were too long for his scanner. They are indeed very long for a 1D barcode. Our tests showed that there was a much more subtle problem.
An ISO compliant verifier will produce a verification report that pinpoints the lowest grading parameter.
That information may as well be in a foreign language you do not speak if you cannot relate it to its cause.
Our Axicon lab verifier provides a Dimensional Analysis report that really drills down into Decodability problems. It reports all of the element (bar and space) widths as they ideally should be and as they actually measure. The deviation from nominal is also reported and the result for each encoded character is color-coded in accordance with the allowable tolerance. The dimensional accuracy is .0001”—amazing.
Verification Report Dimensional Analysis
What happened to this barcode that caused this? That of course is the next challenge—but the verification report has provided an accurate, detailed analysis of what is wrong. As a user, we know exactly where to look next. This is the path to a solution. Here is the list of probable causes:
- Excessive bar width gain
- Wide-to-narrow ratio too small
- Printer resolution too low to execute design commands
There could of course be other, more exotic things happening, but this is where to start.
The images above are from the menu of reports available in the standard Axicon verification software. Behind all of these reports is a vast knowledge base including help screens on the ISO parameters, error messages and warnings presented and color-coded in the verification report display.
What do you want most when you have a barcode problem? You want answers. You want help. You do not want bad barcodes escaping into the supply chain like a tsunami, and the tidal wave of chargebacks flooding back.
You do not want the print or sortation line to simply stop without a clue as to why or what to do.
You want answers and you want help—now.