The Benefits of In-Line Verification
If you print barcodes on a thermal or thermal transfer printer, consider the benefits to in-line verification. If you already understand the importance of barcode verification, inline verification can make a big difference—and if you are not already verifying your barcodes, you will soon find out how expensive and destructive one barcode quality problem can be to your business and your customer relationships.
Barcode printers are production machines. A good printer operator is almost part of the machine, its rhythm and efficiency. As important as it is, often they find it distracting, disruptive to pause and verify a barcode. In-line verification blends into the process, automatically verifying each barcode as it exits the printer and pausing the printer when a below-par barcode is detected.
What is a below-par barcode? The user defines the minimum passing grade—usually an ANSI C. The printer will pause if a barcode below the C threshold is encountered, including a no read caused by a ribbon wrinkle or a quiet zone violation when the label shifts a bit to one side. Inline verification will also detect a burned out print head pixel that many operators—even very experienced ones—cannot see with the naked eye.
Speaking of seeing, here is where in-line verification really excels. Even the rare operator who diligently verifies the first and last label in a print run does not have the tools to see how the printed barcodes are trending from an ISO quality standpoint. The spreadsheet format of the inline verification report displays each ISO parameter in a column, each individually tested barcode on a line. Looking down the columns as a print run proceeds, it is quick and easy to see subtle but steady quality changes over time. If an ISO parameter slips a percentage point every 100 labels, it’s easy to predict when that parameter will cause the barcode to fail—before it ever happens. That is powerful information!
Are there any downsides to in line verification? Not really, but there are some things to keep in mind. At present, in line verification is only available for 1D barcodes in picket fence orientation. Also, in-line verification will generate a lot of data which you may or may not need to archive. As with any specialized tool, it is to be used where it is effective. But where it is effective, it can save you a lot of grief, solidify your important customer relationships and help you to grow and maintain a competitive, high quality business.