Thursday, July 6, 2017

A simple guide to barcoding equipment (Part 1)

A simple guide to barcoding equipment (Part 1)

There is a lot of equipment out there and a lot of information about it, which can be quite confusing. I wanted to create a snapshot of the type of equipment grouped by the application that might simplify this topic for a reader. I have created this blog in multiple parts to discuss this topic, each getting more detailed. Part 1 will focus on a basic overview of the equipment.

Basic barcode overview

A barcode is a set of numbers (or letters) represented by a pattern of lines or boxes, that are printed either on a label, directly onto an item, or its packaging. There are a number of different types of codes for different applications. The barcode you might see the most is the one on any item in a retail store that is scanned when you checkout. This is called a UPC A or UPC B (depending on the number of numbers used / size) and is used to look up pricing when you buy an item. It is also used to update the stock or inventory record of the store, so they know how many of that item they have left. I will discuss barcodes in more detail in a later blog, but you need to know that there are 1D codes (they are the barcodes that look like a bunch of lines) and 2D codes (look like a lot of small black and white boxes that make up a bigger box and you will see on your FedEx shipping label).
2D barcode and 1D barcode

Handheld Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanners are either hand held or built into a stationary device, like the scanner in a retail store. At a basic level, the handheld units act to read, decipher and input the number represented in the barcode into your software or system. When I say input the number this is very similar to you manually typing the code in, but to save time the scanner is used. I am sure you have seen in retail if the barcode is damaged, so cannot be read, the store cashier will manually type in the code as read from the barcode label or tag.

two different types of barcode scanner

When selecting a barcode scanner you might look at these main parameters including:
  • Types of barcode it can scan (1D or 2D)
  • Connects to computer via cable (normally USB)
  • Operates on batteries and is connected via blue tooth (no cable)
  • Operates on capacitive charge via blue tooth (no cable)
  • How durable it must be
  • The scan distance (how far away from the barcode you will be when you scan)
  • Cost
  • The manufacturer

Mobile computers with scanners

There is a range of mobile computers that are handheld and have an integrated scanner. Unlike the basic scanner which just enters the numbers in the barcode, a mobile computer holds applications just like your phone. The user follows the direction on the screen of the mobile computer and will scan a barcode when promoted. The mobile computer is connected to a larger software system via wifi or sometimes via a cell service (just like your phone). There are two basic versions of handheld mobile computers one that looks like a phone and is held in the palm of your hand and the other has a pistol grip (a bit like a gun) that is used to hold and point the scanner at the barcode to be scanned.
One big difference between a handheld barcode scanner and a mobile computer is that with the scanner you don’t need any special software to run it. With a mobile computer, you do need an application on the device to make it work effectively. 
3 different types of mobile computer
When selecting a mobile computer, you might look at these main parameters including:
  • ·         Types of barcode it can scan (1D or 2D)
  • ·         The scan distance (how far away from the barcode you will be when you scan)
  • ·         The operating system that your application works on (Windows or Android)
  • ·         Connects to computer via a wifi connection
  • ·         Connects to computer via a cellular system connection (like your phone)
  • ·         Battery life vs length of shift
  • ·         Type of keyboard you need (or you may opt for no keyboard when the keyboard is on the screen just like on your phone)
  • ·         How durable it must be (will it be dropped a lot)
  • ·         The environment it will be used in (is this used in a freezer or very cold, humid room)
  • ·         Cost
  • ·         The manufacturer
  • ·         The warranty and support life of the product

Wearable devices

A mobile computer or hand-held device both generally prevent their operator from using both of their hands at the same time. If this causes you challenges in your application e.g. your operator is picking items in a warehouse for shipment then they might work quicker if they had their hands free. Wearable devices are similar in operation to the mobile computers i.e. they have an application running on them and connect to the main system in your facility via a wifi system, but they strap to the arm of the operator. The scanner is attached to two of the operator’s fingers. This way the operator can interact with the device and then immediately use both their hands to pick up a box or product, without the need to put the device down somewhere. 
wearable devices
When selecting a mobile computer, you might look at these main parameters including:
  • ·         Types of barcode it can scan (1D or 2D)
  • ·         The scan distance (how far away from the barcode you will be when you scan)
  • ·         The operating system that your application works on (windows or Android)
  • ·         Battery life vs length of shift
  • ·         How durable it must be (will it be dropped a lot)
  • ·         The environment it will be used in (is this used in a freezer or very cold, humid room)
  • ·         Cost
  • ·         The manufacturer
  • ·         The warranty and support life of the product

Tablets

Everyone knows the iPad TM, but when it comes to industrial applications you need something more rugged and that also has a scanner built in and strap to help the operator hold it. There are a number of different types of industrial tablet from general use in a ruggedized format for use in warehouse environments, to extremely rugged industrial ones used for the military, police and utility companies.
Tablets
When selecting a mobile computer, you might look at these main parameters including:
  • ·         How ruggedized do you need (warehouse or military applications)
  • ·         Types of barcode it can scan (1D or 2D)
  • ·         The operating system that your application works on (windows or Android)
  • ·         Battery life vs length of shift
  • ·         Will this be held in the operators hand or strapped round their neck
  • ·         The environment it will be used in (is this used in a freezer or very cold, humid room)
  • ·         Cost
  • ·         The manufacturer
  • ·         The warranty and support life of the product

Other scanners

In retail environments there are multiple scanners for checkouts like in grocery stores or smaller ones that can be picked up or stationary like those found in clothing stores. I will not go into these here, but see below for the two types, as RedLine Solutions do not tend to focus on this type of equipment.
retail fixed position scanners

This blog is written as a rough guide and we recommend researching the product you need in more detail before making a purchasing decision. We hope that it is helpful and if you have any questions on anything in the blog or want more information please feel free to call the RedLine Solutions team at 408-562-1700 or email us at sales@redlinesolutions.com. Images are provided by courtesy of Zebra Technologies and Xplore.


© RedLine Solutions Inc. 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to RedLine Solutions and there is the inclusion of a link to www.barcodenerd.com



1 comment:

  1. Lidar or light detection and ranging is a surveying method that can help you to measure the length and distance of the surface of the earth. Onsite3D provides the best lidar scanning service. If you want to get the best lider service, then you can contact Onsite3D. Best lidar Grand Prarie , Alberta

    ReplyDelete