Barcode Testing and Why You Need To Do It

When barcodes break, it can mean many headaches. But did you know that you can actually prevent the loss of downtime with broken barcodes and have a better bottom line as a result? In order to work properly, a barcode must be able to communicate properly with the scanner, and the scanner must also be in proper working order to communicate with the barcode.

Not only that, but a failed barcode is not easy to find. Imagine a sea of inventory where a single barcode is broken. How do you go about locating the non-functioning code?

Testing

You may wonder what kind of information barcode testing or verification could provide you with. First of all, it should be known that barcode testing is mandatory by international standards. It is the only way to ensure that the image created for the barcode is acceptable and able to be read by the scanner.

It is a common misconception that a barcode scanner is enough to test barcodes. These security labels not only need to be scanned, but need to be tested for the colour contrast performance as well as their reflectivity, something that a scanner alone cannot do.

In addition to the above, the code must also be tested for performance related to scanning, such as bar and space width, quality of the code’s edges, and the spacing of bars and spaces as well as their proximity to one another. Any one of these items found not to be in place can be enough to cause a barcode to fail.

Barcode Verification Method

This method is a scientific approach to barcode testing, and is generally accepted as a valid means of testing barcodes the world over. The reason why this method was developed was because single parameter measurements such as reflectance were not enough to verify the accuracy of a barcode.

The method that was developed included the checking of several parameters including, but not limited to light margins, defects, digits, contrast and reflectance.

Risks of Not Testing Your Barcodes

Should the data obtained by a barcode scanner be incomplete, chaos can be the result. Suddenly, the check-out line becomes endless, manufacturing is a mess and doing inventory becomes a nightmare. Indeed, a broken barcode can cause slowdowns across every level of your company.

At its worst, failed barcodes can negatively affect the security of your entire operation. Without a means to track your assets with barcodes, this leaves your inventory wide open to theft, whether from your warehouse or your sales floor.

Quality Management

More and more, distribution centres as well as warehouses are using automated systems to track their inventory. Where barcodes are used, there is still a requirement for accuracy, not only with the print quality of a barcode, but also with the data they contain and the format used.

Many wonder whether there is a guaranteed way to ensure that barcode data and print quality is valid. The good news is that there is. However, this is only true when the correct equipment and verification method is used. As well, the print quality remains an important part of the process.

Grading

In addition to the above, grading of bar codes is important, because doing so will allow a company to predict the consistency of that bar code throughout its life cycle. This consistency will not only apply once a coded item has reached a destination, but will also apply when gauging the accurate delivery of products to customers as well as the monitoring of differing levels of security access.

There is no doubt that testing barcodes before they fail is crucial to maintaining consistency and efficiency at every level of your organisation.

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