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Barcode 101


Barcodes are used to encode data into a format of lines or blocks to enable machines to read the encapsulated information both at speed and with a high degree of accuracy.
The barcode can be used in an internal system or on a global basis where a retailer requires a barcode that is unique to the product on a global basis. If you are looking to sell your products to a main stream retailer and they require your product to be barcoded, firstly seek their specific requirements and in some cases you will be asked to obtain barcode information from GS1.
You can access further information from the GS1 web site, .
If your client/retailer does not require a GS1 code, then provide them with product id codes that you will use. They can check these to see if they are acceptable within their POS system.
All this may look very confusing and to a certain extent redundant if you are using barcodes in your own enclosed system as there is no requirement to follow any of the global protocols, we can discuss this further with you at any stage.
Barcodes come in two main formats. Your conventional 1 dimensional style seen in Fig 1 and the newer 2 dimensional seen in Fig 2. Both have the specific benefits.
                 Fig 1.                                                                 Fig 2.                           
      1D barcode format                                            2D barcode format
Barcode scanners
Choosing a barcode scanner for your requirement is like picking the best paint brush to use, they can all apply paint but depending on what type of job you are doing, some are better than others.
Barcode scanners come in cabled and wireless versions, laser or imager type readers, hands free, 1D and 2D readers, rugged use and office use. Please contact us for advice on what scanner will best fit your needs.
Barcode label printers
Barcode label printers can produce one barcode label to several thousand very quickly and effeciently. Printers range in size dependant on the volume of labels required to be printed. In general terms, printers are supplied in "desk" size or industrial sizes. Label printers are normally provided with a light barcode software application that will allow you to configure your label with data and barcode information.
Barcode printers come in two versions. A direct thermal version is one used for short life labels, i.e. transport labels or fast moving products. The direct thermal version uses no ink to print the data, a thermal burn is produced using thermal labels. A thermal transfer version uses heat and a ribbon to transfer ink onto the label. This method has a longer shelf life and is clearer to read.
Mobile scanning devices (PDT Personal Digital Terminal)
In many business cases, companies require their staff to be mobile whilst collecting data or information. Part of the information gathering procedure is to use a barcode scanner and keyboard to enter data directly into a table structure on the device or push the data straight into a database housed somewhere on a busineses local network or over a wide area network somewhere in the world.
These types of "mobile barcode scanners" can be seen in the transport delivery industry, stock and inventory control at your local super market or in hospitals checking  patients as they  transition from ward to ward. 
If you have staff in the field and they are using clip boards to collect data, talk to us about making your information flow more efficiently.
Industries using barcode and the future - RFID and the Internet of Things 

The barcode system has been used for several years in retail, transport and manufacturing industries. As the cost to install an automated scanning system becomes less, other industries are now taking advantage of the technology to improve their productivity. More recently, RFID (radio frequency identification) has emerged as another useful method of keeping track of assets, inventory and processes. Both barcoding and RFID have a lot more to offer industry in the future. The IoT (internet of things) is the next fastest growing chapter which will help to connect us all with people, places and things.

Back to barcode scanning. Barcode scanners have long been an inexpensive and reliable way to gather data with the ease of "point and click." A barcode sticker, tag or ID card can cost less than a cent. At each operation, scanning the barcode creates a transaction record that can be stored in a database.
The Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) industry includes manufactures of fixed terminals, mobile devices, peripherals, and related software. With more than 20,000 different products to choose from, a systems integrator has the expertise to recommend the right combination of hardware, software and services.

RFID systems work very much the same way as barcode systems, except that a clear line-of-sight between the scanner and the tag is not necessary, because radio waves travel through many materials. RFID technology is developing rapidly, whereas barcode systems are a mature technology.

Situations involving barcodes and RFID often require a mobile computer that can go to the "point of activity." To support communications between mobile computers and host systems, the AIDC industry pioneered the use of wireless networking in the 1980's. Wireless networking is often an integral part of a barcode or RFID data collection system.


Our objective with this information is to give a very quick overview of the I.D. technology with barcode and RFID.

What are barcodes?

Barcodes have infiltrated every facet of our lives; you'll find them in grocery stores, hospitals, department stores, jails, on farms, even in your own home. They've become an accepted part of our everyday lives, but what exactly are they and what do they represent?

You're not alone in your confusion about the bars and spaces that are printed on food labels, shipping boxes, letters, patient bracelets, etc. They all seem to look the same, but they're not. Each industry has a unique symbology as its standard, which we'll explore later on. If you're thinking about installing a barcode data management system, there are many issues to consider in order to make the right choice for your business challenges.

Get answers to all the questions that have puzzled you, and a better understanding of the technology, so you can better plan for your own barcoding applications. In this guide, you'll learn about:


Barcode Basics

  • Symbologies

  • Scanners—Fixed, Key-Based Portable, and Wireless

  • Compatibility With Existing Systems 

  • Application Software 



Industries and Applications

Don't be intimidated by barcodes. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand them; they are just a different way of encoding numbers and letters by using a combination of bars and spaces of varying widths. Think of them as another way of writing since they replace key-data entry as a method of gathering data. In business, the correct use of barcodes can reduce inefficiencies and improve a company's productivity thereby growing their bottom line.

Simply put, barcodes are a fast, easy, and accurate way of entering data.

This may come as a surprise to you! A barcode doesn't contain descriptive data. Just as your medicare number doesn't contain your name or address, a barcode is also a reference number that a computer uses to look up an associated record that contains descriptive data and other important information.

FOR EXAMPLE: a barcode found on a loaf of bread doesn't contain the product name, type of bread, or price; instead it contains a 13-digit product number. Now, when this number is scanned by the cashier at the check-out, it's transmitted to the store's computer which finds the record associated with that item number in its database. The matching item record contains a description of the product, vendor name, price, quantity-on-hand, etc. The computer instantly does a "price lookup" and displays the price on the cash register (it also subtracts the quantity purchased from the quantity-on-hand.) This entire transaction is done instantly; think of how long it would take the cashier to key in a 13-digit number for every item you wanted to buy!


Manufacturers can tightly couple warehouse and plant operations to support today's just-in-time manufacturing techniques. Your system will be fully compatible with your Manufacturing Requirements Planning (MRP) system, Warehouse Management System (WMS), or Manufacturing Execution System (MES).


Transportation companies can better manage both fixed and mobile assets. Transportation systems integrate LAN and WAN connectivity, Global Positioning System (GPS), mobile computing, barcode scanning, and state-of-the art software to link all your warehousing, distribution, and transportation operations. The result? Lower costs and better customer service.


Retailers can control the flow of inventory and information from dock to stock and out the door. In-store and warehouse software applications, with wireless communications, help retailers increase productivity. For example, they can take advantage of automatic markdown and replenishment systems, and improved price management, inventory control, and merchandise movement.


The Healthcare industry uses barcode and wireless data capture systems to help manage important information with speed and precision. From the laboratory to the hospital, barcode data capture solutions can enable real time access to clinical documentation, patient demographics, insurance data, and much more.

Countless other applications

Agriculture, construction, energy providers, mining, science industries, all of Government.

No matter what industry or organisation you're in, barcode data capture technology can help you meet the toughest challenges you face.


Contact our office to answer any question you may have. We are here to help.


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