How to Implement a Barcode Project Successfully
The highly competitive business world constantly faces new challenges and to meet them, access to information is crucial. The need for more information on products and services has made manufacturers of barcode labels look for ways to store larger amounts of information in existing barcodes. This has also led to the creation of new types of barcode scanners, and barcodes that can now operate in all types of difficult conditions. The most successful range of scanner are produced by Symbol Technologies
New barcodes can be introduced into a business successfully only if the right conditions are available. Barcode labels need appropriate environmental conditions, the method of data collection and review of the same. All these have to be tested before finalizing a barcode project. This will ensure a smooth run once the project is implemented.
Conditions To Be Tested Before Selecting a Barcode Project
Heat and high temperature levels- barcode labels have pressure sensitive adhesives, which help them stick. These are made from heat sensitive thermoplastic materials. Heat makes them weaker and the adhesive becomes thinner and begins to flow out, resulting in the label moving from the position where it was stuck. Higher heat levels may even distort the barcode image and lead to faulty scanning. Continuous exposure to heat will affect the material as well. Therefore it is important to check the heat and temperature levels and find the best barcodes that can last in rugged and harsh external environments.
Cold and Lower Temperatures- Special types of barcode labels are required for colder temperatures. When a barcode label is attached to objects stored at room temperature but have cold surfaces, the label may not fix properly since it loses its direction below a certain temperature and cold damages the adhesive. For such conditions special labels made for lower temperature conditions called Freezer Grade Adhesives, must be used. They can be used in temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.
Bright Lights are not good for barcode scanners. When a bright light bounces off the shiny surface labels it can lead to a defective scanner performance. Hence it is preferable to use dull matt finished labels where the lack of luster minimizes the reflection intensity of the light. The other alternative is to use dimmer lights for the room where the scanning is to take place, or use an overhang over the scanner to protect it from bright light reflections.
Use of outdoor materials- Outdoor materials that are resistant to external environmental forces are generally more durable for barcode materials. These materials include acrylic and polyester adhesives. The label life span can be improved by repeated lamination of films that have ultra violet screening potential.
Scratch protection- Places where risks of abrasion are high, metallic labels are recommended to withstand the scratches. Materials considered safe from scratches include variants of polyester like polypropylene, kapton, Teflon, and lamination polyester material like Teflon and polyamides.
Moisture and Humidity- Labels need to be protected from moisture and wet areas since water can damage print as well as make the adhesive lose its effectiveness. In such conditions labels need a laminated top layer for protection.
Solvents weaken the adhesive on labels and weaken their ability to stick to the surface of the item.
Grease and oil- Adhesives are sensitive to oil and tend to absorb them on contact. This then makes the adhesive lose its ability to stick and the adhesive is said to breakdown. Hence it is preferable to thoroughly wipe surfaces of oil and grease before sticking the barcode label.
Cleaning agents and chemicals- When chemicals or cleaning agents come in direct contact with labels they make them lose their effectiveness as well as durability. The presence of such agents must be checked before hand in order to avoid problems at a later stage.
Label Surfaces- The surface on which the label has to be attached is of importance so that the adhesive can bond with it. Patterned or corrugated surfaces can never get that level of bonding. Plastics with reduced area energy also face failure of adhesives to bond. For such surfaces special adhesive labels need to be used.
Scanning requirements- The right scanner is important for best scanning results. Every scanner comes with its range of operation. Therefore, it is wrong to expect a close range scanner to deliver the same results when used from a distance greater than the one prescribed for its use. Distance and viewing angle must both be kept in mind.
Barcode symbology- Most advanced scanners available today can read multiple symbologies. The most efficient and easily readable symbology must be selected for application. The latest 2D and RFID readers can deliver the best results for most of the contemporary symbologies.
Quiet Zone Space and Barcode Density- Barcodes have very limited space but need to store increasingly larger amounts of information to meet user requirements. This is even more common in the telecommunication and electronics sectors where label space is limited. New scanners now have the technology that can scan narrower and smaller barcodes with ease. ANSI standards also specify a Quiet Zone Space for proper scanning of barcodes, without which inaccurate results cannot be ruled out.
Barcode Verification- This becomes important in applications where barcodes are printed on demand on site. Verification helps in maintaining stringent quality controls and meeting high standards of efficiency. In applications like retail, warehousing and other commercial uses, penalties are imposed for faulty barcodes that are not easily readable. This makes verification of barcodes crucial at the maintenance stage.
Professional skills and training- Staff needs to be trained properly to use barcode equipment efficiently and rule out flaws and ensure proper storage of barcode information.
It is only after all these checks are performed on the various parameters of barcodes that the implementation of a barcode project can be successful, at an acceptable pace without any glitches and loopholes that may halt the progress of the project or hamper its implementation.