Self-Inflicted Barcode Damage: The Lasting Repercussions of Bad Decisions
The boss storms into your office: another barcode disaster. “Get a barcode verifier–NOW”. The atmosphere is electrified with stress. Barcodes are your responsibility, but you really don’t know a lot about them. They are a bit of a mystery—and now a source of stress. No time to learn about them and now another emergency. “Fix it—and don’t spend too much money!” How do you make a good decision?
Eight Steps to Getting the Right Barcode Verifier
Here’s a short list to help you make the right choice in the long term.
1. Don’t use a scanner (or your smart phone) to test your barcodes! Scanners are a lot cheaper than verifiers, but they only decode the barcode—or not. They provide no indication of barcode quality, or how near to failing the barcode might be.
2. Pick a verifier that is purpose built to be a verifier. A scanner or a portable data terminal modified with special software to grade a barcode is not a verifer, with special optics, lighting and sophisticated software. A verifier complies with an ISO specification to be a true test device.
3. Get a verifier with a friendly, intuitive user interface. Most users aren’t engineers. A smart interface makes many of the settings and adjustments to properly configure the verifier. Smart, modern verifiers do it automatically.
4. …which brings us to vintage. Buy a verifier that uses modern technology. Laser guns and wands are 25+ year old technology and have been replaced for good reason. They are inconsistent and unreliable; not a good deal at any price. Old verifiers cannot be updated to new barcode types or changes in the barcode quality specifications.
ISO Compliance is Essential
5. Choose a verifier that complies with the ISO specification for the barcodes you need to test. ISO 15415 is the spec for 2D barcodes such as QR Code and Data Matrix Code. ISO 15416 is the spec for 1D barcodes like UPC and Code 128. A verifier that can be updated will last for many years. A slightly higher initial cost can be a significant savings in the long run. How are updates made? Download from a website 24/7 is better. What does an update cost? Free is better.
6. ISO 15415 and ISO 15416 represent only 50% of overall barcode quality. The other half of barcode quality is data structure: is the encoded information presented in the correct form, sequence and structure? Print quality is half the battle; data structure is the other important half. Both must be within specification.
7. Compare factory warranties. Are they easy to find? If you have to hunt for it, you’ll probably have to hunt for support if the verifier needs servicing. It’s a good bet that the longest warranty identifies the best verifier.
Resellers serve you better than Direct Sales
8. Does the manufacturer sell through a distribution or reseller channel? If so, you may be able to get local on-site support. Direct-only sales protect the manufacturer’s margins, not the needs of the user.
Do you need a barcode verifier? With over 40 year of experience in barcode industry, we use a range of verifiers in our independent barcode testing laboratory. We can help you find the right device and make a purchase that will pay for itself in the long term.