Bar Code Testing: Why it is important

 In 201

I know this is preaching to the choir, but here goes anyway. I ran across this video on YouTube® yesterday—take a moment to watch it. Click here to view the video.

Those of us in the bar code business hear stories like this all the time, and I’m sure they are mostly true. Bar code technology of one sort or another–a hot new scanner or PDT, a breakthrough new WMS–is making XYZ company much more efficient. In this case, it’s DLG, one of Europe’s largest agricultural companies.

I’ve made this case in this blog before: bar code testing is important because bar code performance is essential. This rather well-done video makes the point well, although it doesn’t intend to. All this great technology and the greater efficiencies it promises is meaningless if the cheapest, most neglected and least respected link in the chain fails: the bar code image.

Technology does not negate the importance of bar code testing

Congratulations to Motorola on their apparent success with DLG. There is no doubt this new scanning system has made a significant difference to DLG, and other companies too. My question is who is making sure the bar codes on all those packages and cartons will work when they get to those wonderful new scanners—or those other ones along the supply chain trail? Where is the bar code testing?

I’m not suggesting there isn’t anyone doing this—I’m just saying that it is a vitally important job which is almost never talked about. These scanners are as useful as a glass hammer if the bar codes aren’t performing. All I’m saying is that bar code testing is an important part of the supply chain, albeit a much less exciting one than an electronic device or a sophisticated software application. If bar code quality doesn’t receive a proportionate amount of attention in designing and executing a supply system such as this video displays, it will most certainly receive a disproportionate  amount of attention when that supply system fails—which it eventually will.

Bar code testing is an integral part of best practices for any system where bar codes are present. Sounds obvious, and yet it is so often not true. In the case of the DLG installation, where the bar codes in the system come from a wide variety of sources, the Motorola VAR hopefully suggested to DLG that they should notify all their business partners of their bar code testing requirements.

Bar code testing is an integral part of best practices anywhere bar codes are present

Where there is a direct relationship, a company like DLG should require bar code testing of all vendors and should also require them to periodically document their test results as well as the recent recalibration of their ISO-compliance verifiers.

What if you can’t anticipate where your bar codes are sourced? You’re pretty much stuck in a reactive situation. If there are bar codes present you can reasonably expect that they will work right. If they don’t, your response would be the same as if they weren’t present at all: inform the vendor and give it teeth.

Bar code testing: you only get what you enforce

As David Allais, former CEO of Intermec,  pioneer in the bar code industry and inventor of several symbologies once famously said, you only get what you enforce.


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