Ignore your Barcode Verifier?

 In Barcode Quality Training

The verifier is reporting low grades on your barcodes, consistently in the D and F range. Your scanner decodes them just fine. Which do you believe? What is the smart way to proceed?

Verifier grade is not a guarantee

Understand what the ISO barcode grading system means. An ANSI A grade does not guarantee that your barcode will scan everywhere. Some scanners may fail to decode them. Conversely, an ANSI F grade does not guarantee that your barcode will work nowhere. Some scanners will read them perfectly. The ISO specification provides a method for predicting barcode performance, based on a proven and measurable set of print quality parameters. The ISO parameters measure and grade the same attributes that the scanner utilizes to decode the barcodes. It does not provide guarantees—but it does provide a scientific basis for measuring and grading barcode performance. And it provides a compelling defense against barcode quality-related liability. All of which emphasizes the question—what do you believe, where is your defense and how do you manage the risk of bad barcodes?

New substrates bring new challenges to barcode quality

Things change: scanners and vision systems, new printing technologies and advanced packaging materials are uncharted territory to the venerable ISO standard. The ISO standard is also evolving, but at a slightly slower pace.  Direct printing on flexible materials and disinfectant-compatible laminates are but two examples of recent technological developments that sometimes challenge the established specifications and definitions of acceptability.

So, back to the original question: when do you ignore your barcode verifier?  There is only one circumstance that we can think of which would warrant this:

…when non-negotiable requirements of your customer make it impossible to produce a barcode that achieves a passing ISO grade.

Proceed with caution and diligence

  • Document the requirement—do not proceed with just a verbal mandate
  • Notify your customer of the ramifications
  • Diplomatically require them to absolve you of any liability in writing
  • Only then, ignore your verifier.

Circumstances where a customer requires you to “break the rules” are not unprecedented. A good vendor will encounter them but dealing with it correctly is critical. It is always a good idea to engage management, to protect your company as well as yourself. When a customer asks (or demands) that you bend or break the rules, it can be a teaching and learning opportunity. Rather than putting the relationship on the line, it can impress the customer with your dedication to them as their vendor and the quality of the product you provide.

Break the rules if you must–wisely

It is possible that the customer’s directive to compromise quality is based on factors or opinions that do not take liability and chargebacks into consideration. Diplomatic pushback from a respected vendor could open some eyes and minds. Re-thinking the initial decision could further strengthen your standing as the vendor of choice.

Ignore your barcode verifier? Never. But when there are non-negotiable problems, proceed with caution and intelligence.

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