How Does the ISO Grade Relate to Barcode Scanning ?
Does an A grade guarantee scanning success? Does an F grade guarantee scanning failure?
Did your mother not teach you, there are no guarantees?
“If there are no guarantees, why did I buy a verifier?” you might ask. You bought a verifier so that you could establish a benchmark to hold up to anyone questioning your barcodes. A supply chain, a packaging line, a sortation system—these are all operations, a sequence of events. You use a verifier in order to secure your part of the sequence of events, to keep you from being the weak link. Your ISO compliant verifier measures and grades your barcodes to a tighter standard than scanners that read them. Scanners are manufactured to standards. But scanner standards are less stringent than verifier standards. That is one reason scanners are ineffective as verifiers. A verification report for your barcodes is an important benchmark.
What Does a C Grade Mean?
The verifier grade for your barcodes is a C but your customer says they do not scan. This is possible but unlikely. Most likely your customer’s scanner is malfunctioning. It may be damaged or it may be simply worn out. A scanner unable to read a C grade barcode is probably out of spec and ready to be replaced. While the verification report is not a guarantee, it is a powerful piece of evidence that you want in your arsenal.
If there are no guarantees, what does a verifier grade A actually mean? It means the barcode is likely to scan successfully on the first try. A small percentage of A grade barcodes will need to be scanned a second time, but most of them will decode the first time. Why not a more solid assurance of scanning success? Because scanner standards are relatively lenient. There are very different scanner technologies: lasers, linear imagers, and digital camera scanner. There are different scanner configurations—slot scanners looking sideways, counter mounted scanners looking up, hand held scanners looking who knows which way. In the scanning environment, there are different ambient lighting situations that influence the way a scanner performs—a variable which could change if the scanner is near a window. Most front line scanner are near a window.
A verifier grade F does not “guarantee” a barcode will fail everywhere it goes, not a good defense of your F grade barcodes. The thrust of the barcode quality grading system is not to support a system of guarantees. Verification grades provide a way to scientifically predict barcode performance regardless of where it goes, what type of scanner it encounters, its age and condition, and whether it is a rainy spring morning or a blazing bright, sunny winter afternoon.
Your verifier provides this prediction only if it is an ISO compliant device that has been recently calibrated and certified. Reflectance calibration is done with a NIST-traceable calibration card available from the manufacturer. You should recalibrate at least once a month. ISO compliance certification is also available from your verifier manufacturer, assuming you bought an ISO compliant verifier. Buyer beware—not all verifiers are ISO compliant.