Barcode Scanner Tips

Barcode Scanner Tips

We get a lot of people who get their barcode scanners or rugged PDA’s with scanners built in and find that they can’t scan the Barcodes they want to.  We spend a lot of time dishing out the same barcode scanner tips so this is a quick guide to help you hit the ground running with your barcode scanning!

1. Barcode label advice

Firstly we get so many people who don’t or won’t tell us or show us what they’re scanning.  There are a lot of barcode labels out their that do not confirm, are printed wrongly or on a difficult label type (Shiny, metallic) or are just plain and simply very hard to scan.  The more you tell us about the labels you are scanning, the more we can advise you so let us know what you are attempting to scan as it can dramatically reduce the types of barcode scanner you can use effectively.

2. Read the manual!

As Jerry Macguire once said…”Help me to help you!”

Now don’t get me wrong, and we love to help here, but we can only help those who help themselves.  Read the manual, it’s not hard to find on our website or the manufacturers and learn to use what you have bought before saying it doesn’t work!!

3. Configure your Barcode Scanner

Rugged PDA’s typically have software or an API built in and barcode scanners can use a scan booklet or config tool to set them up properly.  If you’re scanning only 1 type of barcode then switch the rest off.  It will not only make your scanning quicker but it will reduce mis-reads and scanning the wrong barcode too.  If you can’t scan that awkward Code39 or Databar barcode then it might be that the scanner comes with them switched off out of the box.  Again the config tools are as easy and complex as you want them to be enabling the scanners to be used in many different scenario’s.  Use them!!!

4.  Experiment with Scanning Techniques

Shop barcodes have had years of development put in to them to make them quick and fast to scan at the till, if you’re scanning these you’ll never have an issue.  However there are 50 or so other barcode types and you do need to play with your scanner to find a technique that works.

Experiment with the following:

  • The distance you scan from.  Not all barcodes are read from the same distant and the smaller the barcode, the less flexible the read distance will be.
  • The angle you scan from.  This can also help with lighting being emitted from the scanner which is reflecting off metallic or shiny labels.
  • The surrounding light or environment you scan in which can alter essential contrast in the barcode.

5.  Tried 2D Barcodes?

If you have the power to alter your barcodes then why not try 2D ones?  They’re more riobust, hold far more data and can be read from different media far more easily like LCD screens.  Just a thought!


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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