When to Ignore your Barcode Verifier

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The verifier is reporting low grades on your barcodes, consistently in the D and F range, but your scanners read them without a problem. Furthermore, your customer of many months has never reported a problem. Which do you believe? What is the smart way to proceed?

Understand what the ISO barcode grading system means. For a deeper dive, have a look at a recent article we published about this. The abridged version: an ANSI A does not guarantee that your barcode will work everywhere. Some scanners may fail to decode them. Conversely, an ANSI F 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. It does not provide guarantees—but it does provide 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?

An “F” Grade Barcode Is Not a Guarantee to Fail

Things change: scanners and vision systems, new printing technologies and advanced packaging materials are uncharted territory to the venerable ISO standard—that 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? When non-negotiable requirements of your customer make it impossible to produce a barcode that achieves a passing ISO grade, proceed diligently:

  • 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.

One more thought—revisit and update this agreement at least annually.

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