The Importance of Good Barcode Advice – Top Tips
December is always mad here! Everyone seems to need barcode scanners or rugged PDA’s before christmas, but have only just seemed to realise it, manufacturers are slowly preparing to shut down, whilst everyone else in the supply chain seems to have stored their 20 days holidays for December! Things never change……!
We’ve had a few customers come to us this week because they basically bought the wrong barcode scanner product and it’s now costing them dearly. We give free friendly, clear advice to all of our customers and we’re not shy about sharing it with you so I wanted to put together a quick guide on the less obvious things you need to think about when buying a barcode scanner.
1. The barcodes you’ll be scanning
Time and time again people insist that they know what they’re doing, they need a 1D scanner to scan a 1D barcode right? Wrong! well in many cases it is. Yes most 1D barcode scanners read pretty much all but the most obscure barcodes, but as barcode technology is being adopted by more and more people we’re seeing barcodes being printed in all sorts of unexpected shapes, sizes and quality.
This is especially true where barcodes are small and we see so many people who have bought a barcode scanner that can’t read small, tightly printed barcodes.
2. The barcode situation
We had an interesting one this week. Simple Code93 barcodes, printed on shiny metal bags and the 2D scanner bought couldn’t read them. Why because the scanner was getting all sorts of bad light reflections back that simply made 80% of the reads fail. A 1D barcode scanner would have been a much better prospect here, especially as the customer has no intentions of ever scanning 2D barcode!
3. The scanning environment
Again check the environment you’re working in. Bright sodium lighting in warehouses can play havoc with some scanners and if you’re outside you need to be especially careful depending on what situation you’re in. Ruggedness also plays a part here. If you need a rugged scanner but buy a non-rugged one then you will pay at least 3 times the price in the end. Always be open and honest about the environment you’re going to be scanning and always test because scanning at a desk in an office is never quite the same.
4. Future proofing you investment
We’ve talked about 2d scanners here a little bit and the truth is they’re still not up to reading 1D barcodes as well as a 1D laser scanner. However the 2D barcoding market is growing rapidly and you need to make sure that you buy the right scanner for the future too, especially if it’s a long-term rugged investment. Some Rugged PDA’s are now offering a 1D to 2D upgrade in the shape of a firmware upgrade and these are proving a popular choice with customers.
Add to this you need to understand the warranty and support you can get with your barcode scanner investment. It’s not just about manufacturer support, always ask what the reseller provides in terms of support panels and free help/guidance.
5. Configuring your scanners
Lastly it is critical that you have a good clear configuration guide and a reseller who is prepared to help you get it right. Most manufacturers now come with good configuration options but the booklets are often big, complex and difficult to use correctly. However in the example with the bags it was solved because we could play around with the lights and aimer on the barcode scanner, some products don’t offer this.
Lastly always make sure you’ll get the help you need from your reseller because it will pay for itself and often quickly. Shaving a few pounds off a barcode scanner might seem great when buying but not having the right help and advice when you need it will cost you dear in the end.
Rugged and Mobile is and end-to-end provider of Data Capture solutions, providing Barcode, RFID and barcode label printing hardware with friendly, clear, expert advice. We also provide hardware consultancy services for larger projects where we can work with you closely and ensure we get your solution right. Rugged and Mobile also provides Microsoft Windows Mobile design and build services and we have a range of off the shelf products coming very soon.
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