A Brief Foray into Barcodes and Barcode Scanning

27th Mar 2015

First things first; Hi, I’m Shaun and I am the resident barcoding and data capture ‘guy’ here at Ensign. This is my first blog entry, but look out for more data capture related musings as I attempt to stay abreast of what is a fast-paced and constantly evolving sector.

Here’s a scenario I find myself in quite often…
Customer: I want to be able to scan barcodes…?
Me: OK, what type of barcodes are you using?
Customer: *silence*…

You see, most of us are aware of barcodes and their primary function. We all handle barcoded goods every day but the various different types and their varying functionalities can be somewhat confusing.

A quick barcode history lesson

The very first scanning of the (now ubiquitous) Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode was on a pack of Wrigley Company chewing gum in June 1974, and since then we have been treated to over 30 varieties…of barcode, not gum (although I'm sure there are more than 30 types of gum out there).

From numeric only and alpha numeric, to 2-dimensional and QR, we are well catered for, and thus why creating a solution for industrial barcode scanning can be a little challenging.

Rugged or Hybrid Scanners?

It’s not only the barcodes that can cause some head-scratching, the plethora of both handheld and fixed barcode scanners and readers can be a minefield too. The significant growth in the use of QR barcodes in recent years has turned even our mobile phones into rudimentary scanners, which is all well and good for consumers but within enterprise environments, such as retail stores and warehouses, careful selection processes to find the right kit are required.

  • Rugged barcode scanners come with a long list of features and options, all of which ensure they are drop-proof, water-proof, dust-proof and bomb-proof…well, maybe not that last one, but you get the picture.
  • Hybrid scanners have altered the market somewhat, allowing less industrial or ‘heavy-duty’ environments, such as retail shop-floors, to ruggedize consumer electronics and apply them to inventory and point-of-sale (POS) data capture (the Honeywell Captuvo iPod sled ruggedizes the infamously fragile Apple product).

Wearable technology?

The consumer market is awash with wearable tech at the moment. As smartphone innovation has reached something of a plateau, the big players are telling us we must now wear our devices in order to be compliant and 'up-to-date'.

Wearable barcode scanning devices have been around within enterprise environments for some time. For warehouse operatives who are scanning high volumes of barcodes, wearable, as opposed to handheld, scanners add an element of fluidity and freedom to the data capture process and can often increase overall productivity for warehouse operations.

Bringing it all together

So, with all of this choice, how on earth can a comfortable procurement decision be made?

Well, a proper assessment of your working environment, overall expectations, and of course, budget, can at the very least shrink your options down to a more manageable list. I’d be more than happy to go through any barcoding queries you may have, just give me a nudge!

What Next?

If you are planning to deploy an enterprise-grade wireless network or are experiencing problems with a existing setup, please feel free to contact Ensign Communications for a chat with our technical team.