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'If it scans it's OK' .... not true in the matter of the quality of bar codes.

'If It Scans It's OK'....Not True in the Matter of the Quality of Bar Codes

Bar code scanning equipment manufacturers are under pressure to improve their products so that every bar code will read every time.

As a result, they have been developing devices that can read symbols below the exacting standards set for the dimensions of printed bar code symbols. This is good for everyone as long as no one assumes that a good bar code is simply a bar code that can be scanned

For example, the salesperson from, shall we say, the Whizzo Scanning Co, goes round to the supermarkets and demonstrates that his new Whizzo Mark 91 will read a bar code that looks like a dirty thumb print. Utopia supermarket chain is sold on the unit and installs them. They use the Mark 91 as the standard from which they will accept printed bar code quality.

Manufacturers of products sold to Utopia ship them to stores, or overseas, where they are using another scanning device which cannot read the bar codes and so rejects them.

If it scans in one place, it may not scan in another. If it scans when printed on one packaging material, it may not when printed on another. If it scans when printed on to one background colour, it may not scan on another.

Scanning is not the key to bar code quality. The key is keeping to the standards set for the dimensions of the printed bar code symbols.

To maintain these standards, there must be adequate in-plant quality control by all printers, manufacturers and suppliers.

Microplotter Engineering Ltd manufacture an anlyzer, a hand held verification device for all common bar code formats.

Peter Hicks, managing director of Symbol Services Ltd, which is marketing the unit for Microplotter, calls it: 'the price performance breakthrough in bar code quality control'.

In January 1989 the Analyzer 1000 was launched to test print quality or bar/space consistency of printed bar codes. In May Model 3000 was introduced; it is a portable verifier that tests for print contrast and reflectance.

By June, they were offering a 40 column printer to interface with the Analyzer, to give a print-out of the verification details and also marketing the Model 3000, which stores the scans, so giving the user complete mobility.

Next we understand there will be a Model 4000, which additionally gives deviations for individual bars and spaces form the ideal in percentage terms, but for more information why not talk to Mr Hicks's company at The Baltic Centre, Great West Road, Brentford, Middx, tel: 01-847 4121.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Binsted, Howard
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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