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All About Barcode
Bar Codes Introduction
In today's business environment, enterprises strive to stay competitive. Applying barcode data collection technology into an operation is an efficient way to improve the bottom line and meet competitive challenges your organization faces everyday.
This special guide from OCR Canada Ltd. (www.ocr.ca) is designed to provide you with information about bar coding technology. You will learn how bar code data-capture technology can provide a rapid, accurate, and efficient means to collect, process, transmit, record, and manage data in a variety of industries. A barcode system will be beneficial in just about any industry: manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, retail, packaging, delivering, healthcare, and hospitality.
Whatever the application, whatever the environment, OCR Canada provides full working bar coding solutions since the 1980s. Please click Barcode Canada for product details. Also, see our barcode and RFID reference pages to read about barcode and RFID technology and how these technologies are used in the AIDC industry.
What is a bar code?
A bar code is a precise arrangement of parallel lines (bars) and space that vary in width to represent data for identification purpose. Barcode labels are read with a scanner, which reflects light and interprets the code into numbers and letters that are passed on to a computer.
An example of a barcode (Symbology is Code 3 of 9, data encoded is "ABC123"):
When people say they need a barcode for their product, what they are really saying is that they need a Universal Product Code (UPC) assigned to their product from the GS1 Standards Council. This UPC is then printed on their product as a barcode to identify it to a Point of Sale (POS) system.
What is Automatic Identification?
Automatic Identification (Auto ID) encompasses a spectrum of technologies to identify, track, and manage just about any physical item. The emergence of Auto ID systems, including bar code and the related printers, scanners, and software, has significantly increased the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of data collection and entry. Evolving from basic point-of-sale, item tracking, inventory control, bar code applications appear in basically all aspects of businesses including time and attendance, work-in-process, quality control, sorting, order entry, document tracking, shipping and receiving, and many more. As a result, Auto ID systems comprehensively improve operational efficiency with real-time information by linking production, warehousing, distribution, sales, and service to management information systems
What are the benefits of barcode applications?
Bar code data collect systems provide many benefits to any business or organization. By capturing data utilizing bar code technologies data is entered and transmitted faster and more accurate. Other benefits include lower data management costs and inventory management is much more efficient.
Who uses barcode technologies?
Distribution Barcode Solutions
barcode scanners, data collection terminals, barcode printers, and barcode software solutions can help you in planning, scheduling, and resource management throughout the supply chain. With a barcode system integrated into your operations, you will gain the control and traceability to optimize inventory levels and identify packages with ease. You will also find significant improvement in inventory management, shipment accuracy, labeling compliance, and integration between distribution and enterprise operations.
Education Barcode Solutions
Educational institutions of all sizes can benefit from barcode scanners and labeling solutions to improve institutional operations. With reliable and ease-of-use barcode scanners and wireless LAN products, your workforce can be more productive, whether it is in student registration office, cafeteria, health centre, or bookstore.
Energy and Natural Resources Barcode Solutions
Energy and resource providers know that in regulated and commodity- oriented environments, getting the edge on competitors depends on their ability to achieve new cost-cutting efficiencies while continually delivering superior service to their customers. From remote site monitoring, to fuel transportation to field and meter reading & service, efficient and secure access to – and capture of – real-time data is crucial.
Entertainment Barcode Solutions
With increasing competition for your patron's entertainment dollar, it is tough to sustain or increase your subscriber, revenue, and brand performance. There is customized barcode software that support ticket sale plans with easily configurable taxes, service charges, discounts, gift certificate, general admission and assigned seating tickets.
Field Service Barcode Solutions
Consistently providing stellar service is a requirement for field service operations across industries. Too often, service organizations lose productivity and margins due to insufficient customer information, redundant manual data processes and service reporting errors in the field…all because of limited access to information.
Government Barcode Solutions
Governments can modernize and improve efficiency in their general operation including public safety, personnel administration, voter ID, benefits, military logistics, healthcare medical records, revenue collection, and other public-sector applications. Barcode and wireless LAN equipment can significantly help reduce paperwork, data entry, and time spent searching for records.
Health Care Barcode Solutions
Health care staff can utilize barcode technology for accurately identifying and checking patients and their medication prior to dispensing the drug. Bar code scanners and label printers can be used in manual or automated dispensing operations, bedside delivery and documentation, blood bag and lab sample tracking, employee ID, file management, and much more.
Hospitality Barcode Solutions
There are tools to make your patrons happier and your staff more productive. Mobile handheld terminals, wireless barcode scanners and label printers help your staff efficiently by taking meal orders, settling bills, and performing check-in or check out from virtually anywhere in the facility.
Library Barcode Solutions
Libraries can take advantage a broad range of barcode scanners and labeling solutions which will greatly improve the counter, shelf and inventory operations. The combination of our easy-to-use printers and durable media creates barcode labels that will stick with books, video, CDs, and other resources.
Manufacturing Barcode Solutions
In today's competitive manufacturing environment manufacturers require made-to-order and just-in-time production capabilities in order to gain competitive advantages. By applying barcode control to operations you will reduce waste and scrap, slash lookup and minimize recording time and improve productivity in maintenance, production and administration. There are bar coding solutions for more efficient management of raw materials, components, finished goods, as well as communication through plant facilities and back office. They enable your employees to work more efficiently and effectively with timely information that improves the performance of enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain, and customer relationship management (CRM) applications.
Logistics Barcode Solutions
Wireless LAN and bar coding equipment can help you gain competitive advantages with better control and management of your parcel delivery services. With timely and accurate information, your staff can provide quick and efficient services that your customers demand.
Retail Barcode Solutions
With a wide range of barcode and wireless solutions, you can improve front-store, back-room, and warehouse operation in the retailing environment. You can save time and reduce costs by managing inventory, customer checkout, shipping and receiving, and labeling efficiently and effectively.
Transportation Barcode Solutions
Your passengers and employees can get where they need to go safely, swiftly, and securely with barcode and wireless LAN equipment. This equipment can help in the area of transportation tickets, transfers, and passes anywhere to help reduce lines and improve passenger convenience. Passenger service, employee security, and baggage handling can be more efficiently managed with mobile data collection tools.
Warehousing Barcode Solutions
Productivity perks up when your staff can access information when and where they are needed. Mobile barcode terminals and scanners allow your employees to obtain timely information and eliminate time-wasting trips to the central office for information. By avoiding numerous trips back and forth from a centralized office, warehouse workers will be able to take actions quickly and efficiently and hence improve your bottom line.
Wholesale Barcode Solutions
You as wholesalers require real-time information to balance supply and demand in order to keep your customers happy while minimizing the inventory level. You can be in control by utilizing bar code and wireless systems that track and route products from receiving to storage and final shipping.
What types of data collection technologies are available?
There are a broad range of barcode and wireless LAN technologies. They included:
Barcode equipment designed to read imprinted barcodes or 2D matrix code symbologies and send the information to a host computer. Barcode scanners and barcode decoders can be slot card scanners, wand scanners, CCD scanners, laser scanners, area imagers, fixed mount scanners, or hands-free scanners.
Printers used to print bar code labels that can be adhered to inventory items or other assets that require tracking.
Data Collection Terminals
Radio Frequency Devices
They are wireless devices that send and receive information by Radio Frequency (RF). Wireless LAN products extend the range of typical wired LANs to cover remote areas of a plant facility. Wireless LANs allow real-time, two-way exchange of data between workers on a plant floor and the host computer.
Stands for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) devices. These devices read specially encoded characters (OCR-A, OCR-B, E13B, EMCA-11, etc.) printed on forms or remittance stubs and transmits the information to a host computer.
Devices that make measurements of the bars, spaces, quiet zones and optical characteristics of a barcode symbol to determine if it meets the requirements of a specification or standard. Used to ensure barcodes can be read by barcode scanners.
Magnetic Stripe Slot Readers
Input devices that read magnetic stripe media off of identity cards such as credit cards or ID cards. Typically consists of a reader, decoder, and host interface cable.
AIDC software that utilizes barcode, OCR, MICR, RFID, technologies to track inventory, asset tracking, or other property. Software is used to print bar codes, track items, perform time and attendance, and other functions.
What does a barcode system consist of?
Barcode systems require three elements:
Types of Data Collection Systems
Bar code data collection systems fall into three basic types: wireless, batch, and hybrid. A wireless system consists of one or more portables connected in real time to a computer. In these systems, the central computer manages data collection and verification as the user enters data. A batch system uses one or more portables to gather data that is stored for later input to a computer. This is the most common and most economical portable system. It can do only limited validity checking. A hybrid system is a combination of the two.
Wireless systems have several advantages over batch systems, which include:
Batch Systems can be used with portable readers or used in some fixed-mount systems where the reader can continue to collect data even if the computer system goes down. While wireless systems are superior in the ways listed above, batch systems do have some advantages:
Hybrid systems combine attributes of both wireless and batch processing. They are:
What need to be considered before installing a barcode system?
Be sure to take into consideration of your company's future needs while evaluating its current needs. You should plan on expanding virtually every system you install, because a lot of possible hassles can be avoided when upgrading a system. Do not install a system that you will not be able to expand in the future. In particular, keep these factors in mind:
What is the alternative of bar coding?
As an alternative to barcode equipment, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), uses non-contact readers to activate small radio transponders that emit a unique ID code or other information in its memory. These wireless AIDC systems allow are effective in manufacturing and other hostile environments where bar code labels could not survive. RFID has established itself in a wide range of markets including livestock identification and automated vehicle identification (AVI) systems because of its ability to track moving objects.
American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a computer code, as described in ISO standard 646, consisting of 128 alphanumeric and control characters, each encoded with 7 bits (an 8th bit may or may not be used to include a parity check) that is used for the exchange of information between computerized systems.
A simple bar code system that gives a company the ability to consistently locate each asset.
Automatic Identification Data Collection (AIDC)
AIDC is a term used to describe direct entry of data into a computer system, programmable logic controller (PLC) or other microprocessor-controlled device without using a keyboard.
Automatic Identification System
The application of various technologies, such as bar code recognition, image recognition, voice recognition and RF/MW transponders, for the purpose of data entry into a data processing system and bypassing the key-entry component of traditional data entry.
Bar Code Character
A single group of bars and spaces which represent an individual number, letter, punctuation mark or other symbol.
Bar Code Density
The number of characters represented in a linear unit of measure, often expressed in characters per inch (CPI).
Bar Code Label
A label with a bar code that is suitable to be affixed to an article or item.
Bar Code Reader
A device used to read or decode a bar code symbol.
Bar Code Symbol
The combination of symbol characters and features required by a particular symbology, including quiet zones, start and stop characters, data characters, check characters and other auxiliary patterns, that together form a complete entity that can be scanned.
Denotes that a machine-readable symbol can be read successfully in two directions - either backwards or forwards. Also identifies a scanner that can operate or a bar code that can be read independent of scanning direction.
Charge Coupled Device is an array (linear or matrix) of transductive elements where packets of electrons are set in each element as a result of the quantity of light received during an exposure interval, and these packets are recovered from the array in the form of a pulse height-modulated electric signal.
Data Collection System
A system with input devices located at points where data is created. Once captured, the data is immediately transmitted by cable, telephone line or radio signal to a central location, usually in or near a computer room for automatic recording. The data may also be transmitted to a storage medium such as tape, disk or semiconductor memory for later transfer to a host computer application program.
Data Collection Terminals
Terminals or scanners with a built-in scanner from an input port that is capable of accepting data from laser and/or CCD scanners. Data collected from scan is routinely stored and transmitted to a host.
A specified character or string of characters that defines the intended use of the data element that follows. For the purposes of automatic data capture technologies, data identifier refers to the alphanumeric identifiers as defined in ANSI MH10.8.2, formerly known as ANSI/FACT data identifiers.
An electronic package that receives the signals from the scanning function, performs the algorithm to interpret the signals into meaningful data and provides the interface to other devices.
Applications where bar coding and other forms of AIDC are used to add items or delete items from inventory with 100 percent item accuracy.
An optical bar code reading device using a coherent laser light beam as its source of illumination.
A 2-dimensional array of regular polygon shaped cells where the center-to-center distance of adjacent elements is uniform. The arrangement of the cells represents data and/or symbology functions. Matrix symbols may include recognition patterns that do not follow the same rule as the other elements within the symbol (i.e., Data Matrix and MaxiCode).
Bar codes read in any orientation relative to the scanner.
Non-optical automatic identification devices that use radio waves to transmit data.
Radio Frequency Data Communication (RFDC)
Handheld or vehicle mounted units that send and receive messages by radio frequency. Information from the units is displayed on a screen for workers and allows real-time, two-way exchange of data between terminals when one terminal is mobile and the other is a host computer at a remote location.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
The use of small radio transponders that are activated by a reading transmitter. The transponder carries a unique ID code or other information in its memory and can be read at a distance without line of sight. Radio Frequency Tag is an electronic tag capable of receiving, storing and/or transmitting digital information.
Radio Frequency Terminals (RF Terminals)
A wireless portable device used to interact with a remote host computer.
An electronic device that converts optical information into electrical signals.
Numbers, letters and computer-recognized characters represented in a combination of bars and spaces, similar to Morse Code that encodes characters in dots and dashes. The rules for encoding the characters in wide and narrow bars and spaces are called a symbology.
A machine-readable symbol which must be examined both vertically and horizontally to read the entire message. A 2D symbol may be one of two types of machine-readable symbols: a Matrix Symbol or a stacked symbol. 2D symbols differ from linear bar codes with the ability for high data content, small size, data efficiency and error correction capability.
A device that makes measurements of the bars, spaces, quiet zones and optical characteristics of a symbol to determine if the symbol meets the requirements of a specification or standard.
Vertical Bar Code
A bar code pattern presented in such orientation that the symbol from start to stop is perpendicular to the horizon. The individual bars are in an array appearing as rungs of a ladder.
A handheld scanning device used as a contact bar code or OCR reader.
An application that uses bar codes or other forms of AIDC within a warehouse to keep track of receiving, inspecting, storing, controlling inventory, picking and shipping of items and locations within the warehouse facility.
A device that plugs in between a keyboard and a terminal and allows data to be entered by a keyboard or by various types of scanners.
An application or process that monitors product flow during the manufacturing process through to the finished goods stage, and also monitors processes within a warehouse.
Industry LinksGS1 Canada:
A member of GS1, the world's leading supply chain standards organization. Need a UPC Barcode, look here.TechAmerica:
The leading voice for the U.S. technology industry and the "Champion of Innovation."Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA):
The home for the development of cross-industry electronic business interchange standards.IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers:
The world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.GS1 USA:
The world's leading supply chain standards organization.
More Information on Bar code Technology
For more in-depth information on bar code technology, you can visit our homepage www.ocr.ca and talk to our knowledgeable project specialists. OCR Ltd. has been recognized as a leader in the delivery and installation of innovative Automated Identification Data Capture (AIDC) solutions since 1981. Customers across a variety of industries can gain competitive advantage by utilizing OCR's broad range of barcode and wireless LAN equipment to increase operational efficiency and decrease costs. Products we carry include: barcode readers, barcode scanners, barcode laser scanners, barcode laser readers, portable barcode scanners, portable barcode readers, and RFID equipment. Our professional implementation team provides the best working solutions utilizing the newest technologies and will ensure a smooth transition in operational processes. You can rely on us for top quality barcode equipment because we only select the "best of breed" from world leading Auto-ID manufacturers which include: Motorola, Symbol Technologies, Intermec, Honeywell, Datalogic, Psion, Teklogix, Teklynx, Zebex, Sato, Sick Optic, AML, Datamax, Metrologic, HHP, PSC, Denso, Linx Data Terminals, Opticon, Unitech, and others.
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