When is Barcode Verification Overkill?
One of the mistakes often made in business is failing to ask the obvious question. Often the obvious question deserves a carefully considered answer: the answer to the obvious question is not necessarily obvious.
Barcode problems = liability
If your company bears responsibility for barcodes, there is potential liability for bad barcodes: barcode verification makes sense. It makes sense financially: bad barcodes can cost you hundreds, thousands and even tens-of-thousands of dollars in chargebacks. It also makes sense in regards to your company’s reputation. Mistakes have a way of travelling through the grapevine. Existing customers will eventually hear about them. New clients will be concerned about doing business with you.
No verification at all is one extreme. At very least, a visual check can detect devastating, scan-killing problems with a barcode. A barcode testing service confirms process performance at a moment in time. On-site verification provides real-time evaluation and establishes trends over a time interval. This is the foundation for authentic, process confidence based on documented data.
Inline, automatic 100% verification is the other bracket.
Some verification is better than none. What is insufficient? How much is overkill? How much is enough?
It comes down to cost, financial and reputational. Appropriate verification recovers its cost. There are two critical components here:
- Appropriate verification detects barcode errors that visual inspection misses. Scanning barcodes with a scanner or smartphone may signal apparent problems that are not really problems, or miss real, chargeback-inducing problems. “Appropriate” is process-specific. Plate-based redundant printing does not require 100% verification: first and last (at least) and print run intervals based on impressions or time are appropriate.
- Real cost includes total cost of ownership, not just the initial cost of the verifier hardware. The entry-level bracket, with no initial investment, has a corresponding “ownership” cost that will be back-end loaded. A sophisticated high-speed inline verification system has significant front-end cost.
The traditional mid-range solution has initial equipment, ongoing maintenance and personnel costs.
Downtime is a cost factor that is often overlooked. Inline systems promise to reduce or eliminate the personnel cost of offline, spot-checking barcodes. That is true if two conditions are present:
- The inline system is ISO compliant, checking barcodes against the ISO parameters. If it cannot perform in full compliance to the ISO standard, its hedge against chargebacks is compromised
- There are knowledgeable people readily available when the inline system signals a problem and shuts down the line. The promised personnel savings can be quickly lost if it takes hours to understand the detected problem and fix it.
Barcode verification overkill occurs when the solution fails to pay for itself within a reasonable time. What is reasonable? That depends on factors specific to your industry and the role of your business in that space. It is possible to do too little to assure barcode quality.
Beware of Overkill
Overkill is also possible: overkill in the form of overspending to do the job too well, too often to compile too much data; or overkill in the form of testing poorly with a system that does not comply with accepted, international standards.
Do not overspend, or be unprotected. We can help you get it right. Contact us here.
John helps companies resolve current barcode problems and avoid future barcode problems to stabilize and secure their supply chain and strengthen their trading partner relationships.