Barcode Match: Another Form of Barcode Quality
What we call barcode match others may call validation, but whatever you call it, it is an important variation of barcode quality, and it has many forms. Most often, we have seen barcode match in packaging lines where the packager must ensure that only the correct items are going into the master carton or on the pallet. This is the final quality control step in making sure the shipment accurately fulfills the work order. A more recent variation on this is medical device or pharmaceutical supply chain security: making sure the right items are included in the shipment through code match ensures that nothing extraneous gets into the package, either at point of departure or in transit. Anything not matching the manifest at point of destination is suspect: is it a rogue that infiltrated the shipment, is it a shipper error? Code match makes it possible for these cautionary alerts to trigger.
Code match is also used to confirm that the right item in the right quantity is packaged—also an important aspect of security: is the extra inclusion a counterfeit? When, where and how did a missing item disappear?
Barcode match technology is available in various forms: hand held PDT-based scanners, pre-packaged standalone systems with fixed mount scanners and full-blown integrations for high speed conveyor lines. But what is most interesting is the apparently endless ways in which it can be used. Packaging is probably the most common and simplest function. Here are some of the uses we’ve run across:
- Order picking and kitting for shipment
- Parts picking for manufacturing lines
- Matching registered voters to ballots
- Matching shipments to inventory replenishment database
- Barcode-based price lookup at a retailer
- Barcode-based price comparison for same item at various retailers
Recently we ran across yet another barcode match application in a co-packaging operation. The company, a repackager of candy products, was using a code match system to ensure that a customer’s production run did not contain peanuts.
Of course barcode match alone accomplishes very little unless the system is constantly monitored by a human who reacts to a match, non-match or no-read. This is the case with hand-held PDT based barcode match devices. Fixed mounted systems, including the relatively simple pre-packaged systems like we have, include IFTTT (If This Then That) logic, often in the form of a PLC integration.
- IF the slave barcode matches the master, THEN a circuit closes, the light stack shows GREEN and the item proceeds down the conveyor.
- IF the slave barcode does not match the master, THEN a different circuit closes, the light stack shows RED (and perhaps an audible alarm sounds), and a deflector arm shunts the item into a rework area.
Likewise no-reads or no barcode present can be programmed to activate other controls.
Like barcode technology itself, barcode match seems to have a never-ending menu of applications. So far we have never been bored or felt that all possibilities had finally been discovered.
What unusual, unexpected, interesting uses of barcode match have you run across? Please comment!
John helps companies resolve current barcode problems and avoid future barcode problems to stabilize and secure their supply chain and strengthen their trading partner relationships.