Importance of Barcode Quality

In the fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in, a barcode with poor print quality can have a significant ramification if not printed correctly. Poorly printed barcodes might lead to disruptions in the supply chain, causing delays, inefficiencies, and even a shift in supplier choice.

Regardless of the type – 2D Datamatrix barcodes, QR codes, or traditional picket fence style 1D barcodes, all play a pivotal role in supply chains, enabling retailers, manufacturers, transport providers and hospitals to identify and trace products as they move through the supply chain. They are also an integral component of a point of sale (POS), providing the capability to scan any barcode for inventory management and sales tracking.

Functions of Barcodes

At a basic level, all barcodes store data. Whether they are 1D like UPC and Code 128 or 2D like QR code and Datamatrix. However, the main difference between 1D and 2D barcodes is the data stored within them. Barcodes utilise a combination of bars, patterns, and alphanumeric characters to encode product details and streamline the process of inventory management. They save time and money due to the ability to be read by a scanner rather than an employee manually keying information. In a pharmacy for example, the data captured is vital to identify the correct medication and reduce dispensing errors.

Why Barcode Quality Matters

In an increasingly interconnected global economy, the quality of 1D and 2D barcodes is essential for accurate inventory management, on-time product delivery, recall capability, and compliance with industry standards. The reputation of a brand, downtime to customers, or an effect on the supply chain is also heavily dependent on the quality of barcodes. Investment in quality printing technologies and methods for printing suitable for the substrate they are being applied to is crucial to avoiding potential scanning issues in the supply chain.

Factors Affecting Barcode Quality

Barcode quality can be affected by a range of issues beyond scanner accuracy. Their quality can be impacted by factors such as print contrast, quiet zones, and label substrates, which all contribute to compliant print management. Several major retailers require Barcode Verification Reports from suppliers, providing a compelling reason for businesses to invest in high-quality printing equipment and barcode software to achieve industry standard compliance.

Measuring Barcode Health

Measuring barcode health is essential for ensuring the reliability of barcode-based systems in modern inventory and supply chain management. Compliance with GS1 standards enables businesses to identify, capture and share required information with trading partners, minimise expenditure on reprinting or reproducing packaging, and reduce errors in the supply chain. Things to consider when designing barcodes include size, height, quiet zones, colours, and location. Following GS1 Australia standards to check the print quality will ensure the barcode is clearly defined and easily scannable at every point in the supply chain.

How to Guarantee Healthy Barcodes

Maintaining healthy printing quality of your barcodes is important to prevent inaccurate data capture, inefficiencies to production, and supply chain interruptions. When printing barcodes, it is critical to consider the substrate barcodes will be printed on to ensure they print clearly and consistently. It is also important to maintain quality by regularly inspecting barcode print for acceptable print quality and ink spread.

Barcodes and their Benefits

Barcodes have been in use for over 50 years, allowing industry to effectively identify and track product movement. Efficiencies gained through the use of correctly printed barcode include:

  • Accuracy - provide highly accurate data, reducing risk of human input error.
  • Traceability - enable product traceability, helping in recalls and increased accuracy.
  • Integration - barcode software is easily integrated with other technologies and software.
  • Inventory management - enhance inventory control and forecast stock levels.
  • Cost-efficiency - reduce additional costs, such as manual data-entry for employees and carrying excess inventory due to real-time data.

Regardless of industry, barcodes are integral to effective supply chain management and business operations. To ensure barcode reliability, invest in quality printing equipment and service scanning and print technologies for early detection of poor print quality. Barcodes are the glue that hold supply chain and inventory management together, without them, the system would fail.