BarcodeTest Labs: When to Use One

 In Barcode Advice

It’s a common scenario: you have a contractor who prints your barcodes. Let’s say it’s a prepaid gift card or a consumer product package. You’ve done your due diligence or so you think: the vendor knows they’re accountable for barcode quality: you require at least an ANSI C grade and you require periodic verification reports. All the bases are covered—so you think. Nevertheless, you’ve just been notified that your first-read rates are unacceptable and several retailers are very unhappy.

How can this happen?

Barcode Test Labs help you make sure your quality program is working correctly

There could be any number of causes. Maybe the vendor uses an out-of-calibration verifier or a gun-type verifier that doesn’t test print contrast or reflectivity. Maybe it’s some other hardware issue such as a verifier that isn’t ISO compliant. Maybe the problem is a faulty quality testing procedure. Periodic use of a barcode test lab would expose these problems.

Consider a recent encounter: the customer had state-of-the-art verifiers and an employee tasked to test barcode output according to a prescribed program. We were called by their customer. In spite of all these precautions, they had received a quality action from their customer, a major retailer. The problem? The quality guy thought his job was to scan—and scan, and scan and scan—each barcode until he got the grade his boss wanted. Then he saved that record and moved on to the next barcode and repeated the procedure. The boss was happy, life was good—up until now.

Now the whole job was in jeopardy, the customer’s confidence was mortally wounded and future business was in doubt. How could the situation be resolved?

Barcode Test Labs can ensure your verifiers are working properly

An independent auditor is the best immediate solution. The long-range solution, of course, is to retrain (or replace) the quality guy, but the quick, effective fix is to get unbiased, third-party testing in place, and fast.

Barcode test labs are neither exotic nor necessarily expensive. A good independent lab shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. A good one will do as little or as much as necessary. Good test procedure includes pulling representative samples.

 Barcode test lab services need not be long-term relationships. A good lab will work quickly and efficiently to establish a baseline, then help the everyone involved make sensible decisions about the vendor’s ability to produce an acceptable product. If the vendor is capable of meeting the quality specification, then the only remaining issue is whether or not they want to. There are no other excuses, and the source of the quality problem and their future relationship with the customer comes into a very clear focus.

At the 10,000 foot level this all seems obvious. You simply cannot conceal poor quality

Quality testing personnel must be trained properly. Test results must neither be optimistic (“…make the boss happy…”) nor pessimistic (“…make the boss look foolish…”). Testing must always reveal truth.

Barcode Test Labs can ensure your internal procedures ae working properly

Most people sincerely intend to do a good job and truly believe that they are doing a good job.  And their colleagues and supervisors also believe this—which makes it more difficult to detect and correct the problems they cause.

Independent testing and auditing services can help detect and even prevent this devastating scenario. Consider using a third-party lab to periodically validate that an in-house testing program is performing as it should.

Barcode test labs often offer training programs to help in-house quality personnel get up to speed and stay current on barcode quality procedures, and proper use of barcode verifiers and interpreting verifier output.

For information about barcode testing, auditing and quality training services, see







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