Elevate Logistics Operational Efficiency With Barcode Verification

Inline barcode verifier with boxes and verified barcodes

When it comes to logistics read rates are crucial, even a half percent drop can dramatically affect the bottom line. High-performance barcode readers can achieve close to 100% read rates, but what good is a great barcode reader if the codes aren't being printed properly in the first place? A combination of code quality and powerful readers is a must. Choosing the right code quality solution for your application can be confusing. Terms like verification, validation, ISO standards, and endless mentions of 15416, 15415, 15426, 16022 are often overwhelming to try to keep straight. What do they all mean, and do you even need to comply with all of them?

Why is barcode verification important?

Barcode verifiers grade 1D and 2D barcodes according to quality parameters defined by industry standards which are developed by international organizations like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and industry groups like GS1 and Health Industry Business Communications Council (HIBCC). These standards enable interoperability between barcode printing and scanning systems, so that both industries and individuals can depend on symbols being printed and scanned successfully, regardless of where they were produced or handled.

Verification helps confirm that a code being produced will be accepted anywhere, by any reader. It is the only way to formally assign a grade to a barcode, as well as the most reliable way to diagnose and fix marking errors.

Watch our on-demand webinar: Code Quality and Barcode Verification for Logistics Applications

Can a barcode reader be used to check code quality?

This question is asked quite often. Yes, you can use a barcode reader to test if a code can be read. However, all you will learn from this exercise is that your reader can decipher the code. In the world of supply chain logistics, it is important that codes can be read anywhere, by any reader. If the code cannot be read, the barcode scanner cannot supply any information other than the code cannot be decoded. Many industries have standards for codes that include many parameters. In the absence of information from an unreadable code, companies struggle to figure out how to fix the issue(s).

While barcode readers are designed to read codes, a barcode verifier ensures that codes are marked correctly and meet an industry's—rather than an individual producer's—quality threshold. Compared to barcode readers, barcode verifiers are a superior measure of symbol readability because they normalize the range of performance among various types of readers, from camera and laser to handheld and fixed mount. Verifiers analyze and report on formal parameters based on international standards.

What is the barcode verification process?

Barcode verification is the process of grading the quality of barcodes and is done by capturing an image of the code and then analyzing it. Each barcode type, such as 1D, 2D, and direct park mark (DPM), has several different parameters based on a governing standard, such as ISO, that are analyzed. The results from each parameter are graded and then an overall grade is determined.

A picture containing game, drawing Description automatically generated

After the verifier's software calculates the grade, a summary report is generated that can be printed or exported allowing companies to prove that their barcodes can be read and meet industry standards. In addition to generating an auditable report for compliance, the results can also assist in perfecting the printing or marking process by telling operators on which parameters the code is failing or scoring low.

What makes a verifier a verifier?

There are products on the market that claim to verify barcodes. However, to meet the technical definition of a verifier, the device and its accompanying software must meet the requirements listed for ISO standards on barcode verifiers (15426-1 and 15426-2). It should also:

  • Include an accompanying calibration procedure/routine built into the device
  • Support all the precise illumination positions laid out in the ISO 29158 (AIM DPM), ISO 15415, or ISO 15416 standards
  • Generate a report that qualifies codes with a grade and optical arrangement (including lighting angle, light wavelength, and aperture size)
  • Validate that the data within the code is formatted correctly
  • Produce repeatable results

How to select the right barcode quality ISO standard?

There are many ISO standards that pertain to barcodes. Most are about how a code should be generated and decoded, but only three standards assess the quality of barcodes. The type of barcode dictates what standard should be used, each standard has different quality parameters and requirements.
  • For 1D codes printed on labels use ISO/IEC 15416
  • For 2D codes printed on labels use ISO/IEC 15415
  • For DPM applications use ISO/IEC TR 29158, which is an extension of ISO/IEC 15415 and replaced the AIM DPM standard.

What verifiers work for logistics applications?

In the logistics industry, there are different applications and areas of the distribution center (DC) where code verification can provide benefits. Cognex has a range of barcode verifiers to meet these different application requirements.

Location/Application Cognex Solution Description
Print and apply station or side reader with consistent sized boxes or totes DataMan 475V Inline, ISO-compliant verifier with an 80 mm wide field of view (FOV)
Jackpot or hospital lane or places where larger codes are used on corrugated cardboard Webscan TruCheck Omni Off-line, ISO-compliant verifier with a 150 mm wide field of view (FOV)

Since verifiers have a fixed focal distance and have specific lighting angles to be ISO compliant there are some limitations that prevent us from being able to solve some applications with verification.

Download DataMan 475V Datasheet

Is there code quality software that is not ISO compliant but still reliable?

Many industries require compliance to ISO barcode standards as a requirement for labelling and tracking goods through the supply chain and non-compliance can result in fines or charge backs. However, in many industries, barcode standards may be less regulated, but barcode quality is still important to maintaining efficiency as well as reducing costs associated with manual rework and re-labeling.

Introducing the Standards-Based Grading (SBG) feature key.

With SBG you can have access to the same robust software algorithms and user interface as ISO-compliant verification but without the lighting and fixed focal distance restrictions. SBG is a software feature key that can be activated on a DataMan 374, 375, 474 or 475 fixed-mount barcode reader.

This means you can take advantage of the liquid lens options which expand the field of view and depth of focus capabilities. You can also add personalized lighting for your application. While not ISO compliant, SBG delivers the next best thing to true verification.

With this option, you are still able to calibrate and take advantage of our robust verification algorithms while gaining flexibility to meet your specific application needs, while retaining the same great diagnostics tools, repeatability, and reliable code quality grading.

Watch our on-demand webinar: Code Quality and Barcode Verification for Logistics Applications

Naomi Brown

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