Barcode Quality – Why it’s more important than ever

 In 101

This article is based on a presentation by Greg Hutchins of Quality Plus Engineering, a Department of Homeland Security certified firm of Portland, Oregon. Q + E conducts critical infrastructure protection (CIP) forensics, assurance and analytics; they are a certified enterprise risk manager (CERM) and a cyber security identity theft protection consultancy. Clients include the FAA, DHS, Port of Seattle, Microsoft, Boeing and Coca-Cola. Barcode quality is not specifically a concern of Q + E, but their quality insights relate directly to the barcode industry.


Barcode quality as risk management is a relatively new concept for many in this industry and that is because the world is changing. The printing and manufacturing world of the past was a world of linear thinking and solving known problems with clear decision making. The emerging world is a dynamic world of trying to make sense of an ever-changing set of factors and variables and risk-based decision making. In other words, the world has changed.

Barcode quality is essential because the world has changed

It has become a VUCA world.

V is for volatility. The nature and dynamics of change are different, and the nature and speed of change agents and catalysts have transformed.

U is for uncertainty. Today’s world has become much more unpredictable; surprises seem to lurk around every corner and we seem to understand less of what we experience

C is for complexity. Everything seems less straightforward: issues are confounded and confused, chaos seems to be a constant threatening presence not just in the organizations, but in the processes and procedures that are expected to control and stabilize producing the product

A is for ambiguity. Reality seems to be engulfed in a fog. We’re guessing at what to do next and we often misread the signals and mixed meanings embedded in our incoming data, whether it be the quality of raw material from vendors, instructions from our team leaders or the expectations of our customers.

Barcode quality is essential in the VUCA world

Barcode quallity is a concern of anybody dealing with barcodes, whether they are healthcare suppliers, consumer package printers, book publishers, postal presort and fulfillment houses or supply chain providers can relate to the VUCA world in which we now live.

How can we manage the risk of poor barcode quality?

One way is through barcode quality standards. The ISO standards are risk-based standards. This is your last line of defense if there are problems with your barcodes—and only if your barcodes and your verifiers are ISO compliant and calibrated.

Barcode quality standards help to make sense of a confusing world

Automatic identification—which is the domain of barcode technology—has become so essential and embedded in virtually every aspect of our lives and livelihoods, the performance of the barcode has become nothing less than the critical link in the chain, including the ERP chain, the retail supply chain, the manufacturing work-in-progress chain, the drug industry trace-and-track chain, etc.

If the barcode fails, the chain fails and when the chain fails, the business is jeopardized. It is not overstated to say that even lives can be lost.

Quality assurance is becoming business assurance.

More to come.




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