Ten Things to Ask When Buying a Barcode Verifier
A barcode verifier is a fairly technical and expensive device but the reason you need one is straightforward: you need to manage your barcode-related risk; you’ve got customer relationships, your reputation and future business on the line. How do you make sure the verifier you’re thinking about buying is the right tool for your needs and your situation?
Here are the ten things to ask before you authorize that Purchase Order.
1. What barcode types or symbologies does the verifier test? Don’t settle for an imprecise answer, like “all types” or “1D and 2D” barcodes. One manufacturer offers a verifier for “1D and 2D symbols” that tests PDF417 but not Datamatrix. Hmm.
2. What protocol does the barcode verifier use to assess the symbologies it tests? And what protocol do you need? Most of the time, the ISO specification is acceptable but sometimes your customers might require you to test to AIM specifications. They are not substantially different, but if your verification test isn’t specifically compliant to the AIM protocol, your customer may not be satisfied that you are a vendor they trust.
3. Is the barcode verifier itself compliant? This is not the same thing as the verification report. Most barcode verifiers use the ISO specification as the format of their test reports, but not all verifiers are themselves compliant to the ISO specification that describes how the machine itself performs. If the verifier is not ISO compliant, the report is meaningless.
Beware of a barcode verifier that is partial ANSI or ISO compliant
Watch out for asterisks in the verifier description. This usually means a barcode verifier that is compliant only in certain configurations. This usually means that optional, extra-cost equipment is necessary
4. How long is the warranty and what does it include? Beware of manufacturers who don’t clearly state their equipment warranty on the data sheets. Why aren’t they proud of their product and its factory warranty?
Beware of complicated or hard-to-find barcode verifier warranties
Beware of complicated product warranties. This is not a legal document (well actually it is)—it’s also a promise and a statement of good faith.
5. Does the barcode verifier require periodic re-calibration? Is the re-calibration card included in the quoted price for the verifier or is it an extra-cost option? Is periodic factory re-calibration required? Is the cost of this included in the cost? Is there an optional extended warranty available that includes re-calibration and (perhaps) a loaner device while your unit is back at the factory?
Beware of a barcode verifier that claims to never need re-calibration
Never needs re-calibration. Really? How would you trust it over the long haul, considering what’s on the line and why you’re spending thousands of dollars to begin with?
6. What is the reseller’s return policy? Even when the reseller is very helpful and works hard to make sure you’re buying the right piece of equipment, sometimes you discover that it just wasn’t the exact device you need. Are returns allowed? Are there restocking fees? What’s the time limit?
7. Does the manufacturer provide software updates? Do they require returning the unit to the factory or are they field-installable by end users? Is there an additional cost?
8. How does the barcode verifier report grade the tested symbols? The globally-preferred method is ISO numerical grading, but many Americans prefer ANSI letter grades.
9. What is the verifier form factor? If the device is portable, how do you get the test data into your PC (or Mac) for viewing, archiving, printing or emailing? Is an extra-cost optional interface necessary? What’s the interface? Serial? USB? Can the computer-tethered device be converted to a portable with an optional battery-powered display?
10. Does the manufacturer or reseller have demo equipment available? Sometimes you just want a test drive. If a manufacturer won’t be helpful at this stage, how helpful will they be after they have your money?
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.