a) Purchase a barcode verifier
b) Use a barcode test lab
Verifiers are expensive. There are legitimate product development costs and limited market size reasons for that. At the end of the day, buying a verifier is a significant investment justified by the ironic clash of a belief and a hope:
- The belief the barcode verifier will pay for itself in the long run
- The hope it will never be necessary
In actuality, this ironic clash only occurs if you have never paid a chargeback for bad barcodes or had a narrow escape. Those who have experienced a barcode problem understand the cost and value of risk management. In many cases the verifier pays for itself again and again.
One reason to use a barcode test lab is to avoid the high initial expense. Depending on the cost of testing services and how often you need them, it could take years for the cost of test services to equal the cost of a verifier.
Other reasons to use a barcode test lab include:
- Outsourcing the cost of the personnel and training who uses the verifier
- Access to equipment that is always calibrated and conforming to the latest specifications
- Access to a wide range of equipment
- A resource that can quickly identify and solve barcode problems
- An authority/advocate who can vouch for barcode quality when scanning problems arise
- An independent 3rd party whose quality assurance work is unbiased
A test lab may have a range of devices they could use to test your barcodes. Like test driving a car by renting it, you could familiarize yourself with a variety of barcode verifiers and their test reports as product research for ultimately buying a verifier.
An experienced barcode test lab can more quickly solve barcode mysteries that can vex users for hours and days, such as barcodes that simply do not scan. Experience can distinguish the simple and obvious to esoteric issues and get to the solution quickly.
There are some downsides to a test lab:
- Time delay and expense of shipping samples to the test lab
- Response time of the test lab
- Test lab cost
It is possible to email high quality images, avoiding the cost and delay of shipping live samples of barcodes to the test lab. While this is not ideal, some critical attributes of the barcode can be legitimately tested and graded. These include symbology type, data structure, check digit and quiet zones.
Test lab costs vary by provider. Here are key questions to ask when looking for a barcode test lab:
- Can you test my (name of barcode type)? If the lab has a very limited stable of equipment they are probably a very small and limited operation. This isn’t necessarily a bad sign but it could also mean their experience and limited. Point-blank ask them.
- How many samples should I send? If the answer is vague, or “…as many as you want…” beware. A better answer is, “Send as many samples as accurately represent your print run. At very least we need to see samples from the beginning, the middle and the end.”
- How do you charge? Is there a per-sample charge? A minimum or set-up charge? Are there any other charges? If I need to get my barcode samples back, is there an additional charge for that?
- If I need a large quantity of barcodes tested, are there discounts? Yes, from Barcode test.
- What is your response time? We respond with test data within about an hour of receiving incoming samples.
- How do you report the test results? We attach a verification report for each symbol tested, and explain findings and recommendations in the covering email.
- Is anything else besides the quality report included in your barcode testing services? From Barcode Test a telephone conference is always included.
- How can I pay? Do you accept purchase orders? Can I pay by credit card? Can I establish an account with monthly invoicing? Yes to all of the above, from Barcode test.
Your comments and questions are welcome.