Step 3 in our building a barcode solution “sub Series” to our Big Barcode guide looks at the actual barcode and selecting which symbology os right for your barcode solution.  what it needs to store.  Whilst I think in reality 5 or 6 barcode symbologies are now largely used for most home-grown projects, before you go headlong into a barcode solution just step back and have at think about the following areas:

Tip 1 – Does your solution demand you use a particular barcode symbology?  You might be stuck with an industry standard, the barcode might need to be read by way more people than you think all with solutions already in place or there might be a particular need for a high density or more secure symbology.

Tip 2 – What existing or reusable equipment do you have?  There’s no sense creating an all singing, all dancing 2D barcode solution if the project dictates you’re using the 1D laser barcode scanners lefts over from the 90’s!  always do these checks before you go ahead.

Tip 3 – Assess the actual data the barcode is going to store.  I can’t stress this enough and it’s probably the top thing we see where people have been merrily scanning Code39 for years but then need to add in a few letters for a new code standard but can’t!  The counter argument to this is that your barcodes might become too large if you’re trying to store too much or too many characters in them.

Tip 4 – Work out where and how the barcodes will be positioned on the assets, we’ll go into the label in a later blog, but here you;re trying to assess if the barcode will need to be shrunk for certain assets.  Some barcode symbologies are more shrinkable than others, some are more expandable too.

Tip 5 – Robustness of the barcode is also very important.  Some are very basic but some will allow for check bits, start and stop lines and are just more easily read.  In the event of barcodes going missing or breaking, how are your users going to carry on their work?  also where are the barcodes likely to be printed?  If from your £2000+ Barcode label printer then no problem, but what if it’s people printing off tickets or coupons from home on their 10-year-old dot matrix?  Chances are they won;t scan unless they’re 2D.

Tip 6 – Consider the overall impact of barcode symbology choice on the rest of your project.  The classic here is using High Density barcodes or 2D barcodes which can’t be read by standard Laser or CCD barcode scanners.

Tip 7 – Future proof your choice.  We really are on the tipping point of 2D barcodes now.  Manufacturers like Motorola are even dropping 1D scan technology from their newer Rugged PDA’s so if you can get to grips with 2D at least take a look at it.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at

The Rugged and Mobile blog.