Self-Inflicted Barcode Damage: The Lasting Repercussions of Bad Decisions

 In 101

The boss storms into your office—another barcode disaster and he orders you to get a barcode verifier–NOW. The atmosphere is electrified with stress. Although barcodes are in your sphere of responsibility you really don’t know a lot about them. They are somewhat of a mystery—another source of stress. No time to learn about them and now another emergency. “Fix it—and don’t spend too much money!” How do you make a good decision? Here’s a short list to help you make a quick decision that will be right in the long term.

  1. Don’t consider a scanner (or your smart phone) to test your barcodes! Scanners are a lot cheaper than verifiers, but they only decode the barcode—or not. They provide no indication of whether a different scanner will also decode the barcode, or how near to failing the barcode might be.
  2. Pick a verifier that is purpose built to be a verifier, not a scanner or a portable data terminal that has been modified with special software to grade a barcode. Verifiers use special optics and lighting as well as sophisticated software and must comply with a specialized ISO specification to be a true test device.
  3. Get a verifier with an interface that you can understand. Most users aren’t engineers and neither want nor need to make every little setting and adjustment to properly configure the verifier. Smart, modern verifiers can do it automatically.
  4. …which brings us to vintage. Buy a verifier that uses modern technology. Laser guns and wands are 20+ year old technology and have been replaced for good reason. They are inconsistent and unreliable; not a good deal at any price. Old verifiers may not be updatable to new barcode types or changes in the barcode quality specifications.
  5. Make sure you are choosing a verifier that complies with the ISO specification for the barcodes you need to test. ISO 15415 is the spec for 2D barcodes such as QR Code and Data Matrix Code. ISO 15416 is the spec for 1D barcodes like UPC and Code 128. A verifier that can be updated will last for many years, making what appears to be a more expensive purchase a better investment. How are updates accessed? Download from a website 24/7 is better. What does an update cost? Free is better.
  6. ISO 15415 and ISO 15416 represent only 50% of overall barcode quality. The other half of barcode quality is data structure: is the encoded information presented in the correct form, sequence and structure? A GS1-128 or Data Matrix barcode, or an HIBC compliance barcode that is printed perfectly but does not pass the UDI specification is just another barcode nightmare.
  7. Compare factory warranties. Are they easy to find? If you have to hunt for it, you’ll probably have to hunt for support if the verifier misbehaves or breaks. It’s a good bet that the longest warranty identifies the best verifier.
  8. Does the manufacturer sell through a distribution or reseller channel? If so, you may be able to get local on-site support. Direct-only sales protect the manufacturer’s margins, not the needs of the user.

Do you need a barcode verifier? With over 40 year of experience in this technology, we use a range of verifiers in our independent barcode testing laboratory. We can help you find the right device and make a purchase that will pay for itself in and the long term.

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