The Best Entry-Level Bar Code Verifier
Nobody wants to spend more than necessary on a bar code verifier, and now that the Honeywell (HHP) QuickCheck is history, what is the best entry-level bar code verifier replacement? In the Product Retirement announcement, Honeywell specifically recommended Axicon verifiers—but were they right? Let’s take a look.
Let’s be honest about the QuickCheck. It was getting rather long in the tooth, and Honeywell wasn’t doing anything to refine or modernize it. When they finally came out with the QuickCheck 890 it was an obvious copy of the Axicon 7015—and fell quite a bit short of it, a fact of which Honeywell was obviously aware: they included a wand port on the back to compensate for the QC890’s large footprint but limited scan width: pretty lame.
The age of the gun-type QuickCheck800’s was not their only weaknesses. The gun-imager 800’s couldn’t test reflectivity or contrast, so they never were ISO compliant, a fact that was not always disclosed clearly by Honeywell or some over-eager resellers.
What is the best entry-level bar code verifier replacement? One verifier manufacture brags that they offer the only verifier that is most like the QuickCheck. That’s a dubious distinction. They also claim to be the cheapest verifier available. This is not the basis on which I would make a purchase decision for a test device I’m relying on to control bar code quality risk and liability.
Another verifier manufacturer doesn’t actually manufacture a verifier—they load upgraded software onto a PDT that was designed to be a data collector in a warehouse. It may be rugged but a test instrument it is not, no matter how sophisticated the software. It isn’t the best entry-level bar code verifier because it isn’t really a verifier. They also brag that it doesn’t need calibration—that is because, like the QuickCheck 800, it can’t test contrast or reflectivity in conformance with the ISO specification. It doesn’t need calibration because it cannot be calibrated. The marketing guys must have said, “Take a shortcoming and turn it into a feature.”
So, what is the best entry-level bar code verifier? Let’s spec it out into what it must have and what would make it great.
- ANSI/ISO compliance to the full specification—not just some of it
- Automatic X dimension detection and aperture selection with no user intervention
- Ambient light shielding to minimize the influence of stray light in the test area
- No user technique or learning curve or other user-influence over test results such as happens with wands
Great to Have:
- Flexible, user-configurable verification report
- A full and growing list of special user functions such as product look-up capability, Industry Applications, data logging to a spreadsheet, user memo area, etc.
- The ability to convert the verifier from portable to PC-tethered and back again at will
- Product documentation in all the major languages
- A global presence so you and your vendors and customers have access to the product and to tech support no matter where they are located
How does Axicon stack up against these factors? Actually this list came directly out of the technical data for the Axicon 6000, 6500 and 7000 series verifiers. If there is anything that users may consider somewhat limiting about the 6000, which is their true entry level verifier, it is the rather small 2.6” scan width; perfect for USC/EAN and smaller Code 128 but not anything larger.
Why can’t it scan and verify larger codes? Because it is not a gun-type imager that the user can pull away from the symbol to make the scan path wider. The Axicon verifier is placed directly on the symbol, the scan button is pressed, and the verification is performed. No user movement, but no scan width flexibility. Is this an acceptable trade-off? Quite honestly, a lot of QuickCheck 800 users are put off at first, but since they were never actually testing the barcode to the full ANSI/ISO spec, what is the trade-off? Not knowing if the barcode is actually compliant or not for the ease of testing it partially?
Finally, cost. The Axicon 6015 is priced $300 less than the comparable Honeywell QuickCheck 850 was priced when it was retired two years ago. Today the QC850 would cost even more.