TECHNOLOGY BEHIND BARCODES
BARCODES have a different way of encoding numbers and letters by using a combination of bars and spaces of varying widths. Think of BARCODES as another way of writing since BARCODES replace keying data. In business, the correct use of BARCODES can reduce inefficiencies and improve companyís productivities. BARCODES are a fast, easy and an accurate way of entering data.
A BARCODE doesnít contain descriptive data. A BARCODE typically has ID data encoded in it, and data is used by a computer to look up all specific information associated with the data.
UPC/EAN BAR CODE
This is the symbol used on items destined for retail check-out line. UPC BARCODE Symbols are fixed length, are mandatory in the retail and food industry. UPC BARCODE Symbols were developed to meet the needs of grocery retailing as it fits 12 digits into a reasonably compact space.
To get a manufactureís number assigned for UPC BARCODE, call Uniform Code Council at 937-435-3870. For most other BARCODE specifications, call AIM USA at 412-963-8588.
CODE 39 / CODE 3 of 9 BAR CODE
was developed because some industries needed to encode the alphabet as well as numbers into a BARCODE, CODE 39 BARCODE is by far the most popular BARCODE SYMBOLOGY of choice. CODE 30 / CODE 3 of 9 BARCODE is typically used for ID, inventory, and tracking purposes in various industries such as manufacturing. However, CODE 39 BARCODE produces relatively long BARCODES and may not be suitable if label length is a consideration.
CODE 128 BAR CODE
CODE 128 BARCODE came about when the need for a wider selection of characters arose than CODE 39 BARCODE could provide. When label length is a consideration, CODE 128 is a good alternative because itís very compact and results in a dense symbol. CODE 128 BARCODE SYMBOLOGY is often used in the shipping industry where label size is an issue.
INTERLEAVED 2 OF 5 BAR CODE
INTERLEAVED 2 OF 5 BARCODE is another popular BARCODE SYMBOLOGY in the shipping industry, INTERLEAVED 2 OF 5 BARCODE is widely used by the warehousing industry, too. INTERLEAVED 2 OF 5 BARCODE is also a very compact BARCODE SYMBOLOGY and youíll see them on the corrugated boxes in which things are shipped to the grocery store.
POSTNET BAR CODE
Unique to the United States Postal Service, POSTNET BARCODE encodes for processing mail for speedy delivery or bulk mailing.
PDF417 2D BAR CODE
PDF 417 is known as a 2D (two-dimensional) BARCODE, this is a high-density, non-linear BARCODE SYMBOLOGY that reminds you of a crossword puzzle. But the difference between PDF417 2D BARCODES and the other BARCODES listed above is that PDF417 2D BARCODE is really a portable data file (PDF) as opposed to simply being a reference number. Some states require a PDF417 2D BARCODE be printed on your driverís license. It is interesting to know that thereís room enough in PDF417 2D BARCODE to encode your name, photo and summary of your driving record, and other pertinent information. As a matter of fact, a PDF417 BARCODE can encode the Gettysbury Address in a space the size of a postage stamp!
An important fact to remember is that the larger the width of the bars and spaces, the more space it takes to print the BARCODE; therefore, the lower the bar cod density. The thinner the bars and spaces, the less space is required and the higher the BARCODE density.
HOW BARCODE SCANNERS WORK
A basic BARCODE SCANNER consists of a BARCODE SCANNER, a BARCODE DECODER, and a CABLE that interfaces between BARCODE DECODER to the computer or terminal.
A BARCODE SCANNERíS function is to scan the BARCODE symbol and provide an electrical output to the computer that corresponds to the bars and spaces of the BARCODE. However, itís the decoder that recognizes the BARCODE SYMBOLOGY, analyzes the content of the BARCODE SYMBOLOGY. BARCODE DECODER analyzes the content of the BARCODE scanned, and transmits that scanned, and transmits that data to the computer in a traditional data format.
A BARCODE SCANNER can either have the decoder built into its handle or be ďundecodedĒ which requires a separate box, called an interface or wedge. UNDECODED BARCODE SCANNERS are also used when connecting to PORTABLE BARCODE BATCH SCANNERS as the decoding is performed by the terminal itself.
BARCODE KEYBOARD WEDGE READERS
A BARCODE KEYBOARD WEDGE READER is attached to a computer through a port called the keyboard interface. When a BARCODE is scanned, the information is transmitted as though it were keyed in the form of keyboard. Sometimes theyíre referred to as BARCODE WEDGE READERS because they physically wedge between the keyboard and the computer and attach as a second keyboard. One great advantage of a BARCODE KEYBOARD WEDGE READER is that BARCODE reading can be added with no software changes necessary; the software thinks that the data received was entered by a speedy typist. With a BARCODE KEYBOARD WEDGE READER, any program that accepts keyed data will accept BARCODE data with no change.
SERIAL BARCODE SCANNERS
Another way to transmit data from a BARCODE READER to a computer is to connect it to the computerís RS-232 serial port. The BARCODE information read will be transmitted in ASCII format and look just like keyed data to the computer. Using a serial port connection is ideal for a multi-user computer. With serial ASCII terminals for each user, the SERIAL BARCODE READER can attach between the terminal and host computer and transmit ASCII data just like the terminal.
PORTABLE BARCODE SCANNERS
Portable barcode scanners are hand-held battery operated readers store data in memory for uploading to the host at a different time. A BARCODE PORTABLE BATCH READER contains a BARCODE SCANNER, an LCD display to prompt the user to perform a task, and a keyboard to enter variable data such as quantities. A download cradle must also be purchased to upload information to the computer.
BARCODE PORTABLE BATCH SCANNERS
Portable Batch Scanners are ideal when mobility is a must and when collected data is not immediately needed. These PORTABLE BARCODE SCANNERS come in a variety of styles including HAND-HELD PORTABLE BARCODE SCANNERS, WEARABLE PORTABLE BARCODE SCANNERS and TRUCK MOUNTED BARCODE SCANNERS. Your application will determine which style is best.
WIRELESS PORTABLE BARCODE SCANNERS
When you need to collect information at a remote location, and need the information immediately, a wireless solution is the perfect one. A WIRELESS PORTABLE BARCODE SCANNER is also built into a terminal, and uploads data to the host as itís scanned, instantly and accurately. WIRELESS PORTABLE BARCODE PRODUCTS allow the user scan the information at the point-of-activity, which makes it ideal for many industries.
The cable required depends upon how you need to connect the BARCODE SCANNER. Cables are either RS-232 direct cables or adapters and all require a power supply. RS-232 connections have either 9 or 25 pins and connect the scanner to the PC. An adapter enables you to use one scanner with a variety of different PCs by simply changing an adapter cable.
Serial Port: Requires RS232 Cable and Power Supply.
OCIA-Register or Wedge Interface: An Adapter Cable.
BARCODE Portable Terminal: 9-Pin Cable.
WHICH BARCODE SCANNER IS RIGHT FOR MY APPLICATION?
With all the choices available, itís critically important to understand your environment and application thoroughly before making any decisions. Answer these few questions to help you determine which scanner is beset for you:
1. What type if environment will the BARCODE SCANNER be used in? Harsh as in a factory or normal as in a store?
2. Is continuous or periodic BARCODE scanning needed?
3. Is hands-free or a hand-held capability required?
4. Will BARCODE scanning be conducted close to the barcode or from a distance?
5. What will the BARCODE SCANNER connect to?
6. Will the information scanned be needed in real time?
The least expensive BARCODE SCANNER might work well in an application where BARCODE scanning is infrequent, but it certainly would not be the answer in a harsh manufacturing environment where a ruggedized INDUSTRIAL BARCODE SCANNER is needed.
ARE SCANNERS COMPATIBLE WITH MY EXISTING SYSTEM?
Special software is not required for your BARCODE SCANNER to get information into your computer. Scanning and decoding are handled by the BARCODE SCANNER / BARCODE DECODER. So, by the time the data gets to the computer, it has already been translated. There is nothing more for you to do. In case you do not have a desktop application software to track your inventory, shipping or receiving, or asset managing for your warehouse or business, a tracking software is necessary to manage your data after it is entered by a BARCODE SCANER.
However, while your computer and computer software may be capable of accepting BARCODE DATA, your existing software may not be able to print BARCODES. If it can not, you will either have to buy PRE-PRINTED LABELS, or BARCODE LABE SOFTWARE so you can print your own BARCODE LABELS, BARCODED PICK TICKETS, BARCODED BADGES, etc. This, of course, is more convenient.
WHAT APPLICATION SOFTWARE IS REQUIRED?
Whether you want to use BARCODES to TRACKING INVENTORY, MONITOR PATIENT CARE, ASSET MANAGING, CHECK-IN AND CHECK-OUT, SHIPPING AND RECEIVING, or at POINT-OF-SALES, you are going to need application software. Itís the application software that accepts the BARCODE data and controls the success of an application. Think of software as your computerís silent partner, organizing incoming data into information needed to manage business.
With the proper PC Software, todayís dot matrix, laser printers are capable of printing excellent quality BARCODES. We would not suggest bubble jet, or ink jet printer. If you want to print the best quality BARCODES, then have the laser printer so the job; itís also perfect for printing batches of labels. THERMAL TRANSFER BARCODE PRINTERS are required when you need to print a roll of labels so that labels can be applied by applicators directly to boxes. Volume industrial printing is done mostly by THERMAL TRANSFER PRINTERS; they are fast and produce excellent quality BARCODES. One important note to remember is that lower density BARCODES are more reliably printed and more consistently read than higher density BARCODES because minor variations, due to printing or damage to the BARCODE.
Couple questions to ask yourself: This is to determine if you need custom professional BARCODE LABEL PRINTING, a BARCODE LABEL PRINTER, or a BARCODE LABEL PRINTING SOFTWARE OR FONT.
1. Number of BARCODE LABELS needed?
2. How many digits? Other than UPC/EAN BARCODES, it is you to determine how many digits of BARCODES you need. This also determines the size of the label.
3. Preferred width of the label?
4. Starting number and ending number?
5. Would you like to have your business or institution name printed on the label too?
6. Does the quality of the BARCODE LABELS have to be special? Ie: temperture resist, thermal transfer, nylonÖ
7. Are you incorporating the BARCODE with your packaging design? If so, you need to know if the BARCODE SOFTWARE or FONT you are purchasing would export to your design software, such as QuarkXpress, Adobe PagemakerÖ