The linear barcode is a great data collection tool, up to a point. When you need more than a product’s SKU, description, and price—e.g., production information, serial number, lot, batch number—you need a 2D barcode, which can contain up to 4,000 characters. A 1D barcode is limited to about 25 characters.
With the need for more data, including compliance and track-and-trace issues, 2D barcodes are becoming more widely adopted. However, with this technology, you’ll need a 2D imager, instead of a 1D barcode scanner.
A barcode scanner utilizes a single laser to read the linear barcode on a paper surface, like a label or tag. A 2D imager uses a array of lasers that capture both 1D and 2D barcodes from a variety of surfaces, including paper and electronic screens. In our last post, we talked about the many uses of 2D barcodes, now let’s explore the benefits of 2D barcode scanning.
- Capture 1D and 2D barcodes from a paper, synthetic media, and electronic screens.
- Read barcodes that are smudged, scratched, damaged, or poorly printed. Some of Zebra’s rugged and ultra-rugged imagers will also capture barcodes that are covered with shrinkwrap or frost.
- An imager’s omnidirectional scanning means you don’t need to take the time to align a single laser to the barcode, so productivity is increased.
- By choosing an extended range 2D imager, you can grab barcodes from as far away as 7 feet, or as close as just a few inches—perfect for retail, distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.
- With one pull of the 2D imager’s trigger, you can capture multiple barcodes, reducing the time it takes to process an inbound or outbound shipment.
- In addition to barcodes, you can capture signatures, documents, images, direct part marks, and text. A 2D imager also supports Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to read characters on checks, passports, driver’s licenses, invoices, and more.
Informs has partnered with Zebra, a global leader in data collection technology. We can help you determine the right 2D imager for your business applications. Talk to us to learn more Zebra’s barcode scanning advances and how you can increase productivity and accuracy.
People often ask us why they should use 2D barcodes—the small, patterned squares that are showing up more frequently on products, advertisements, signs, and more.
The answer to “why” is usually paired with “how.” In some applications, this technology can seem a little dated, but the truth is that 2D barcodes are now an integral part of data collection processes. Coupled with modern scanning technology, the 2D barcode can be a good choice for warehouses, manufacturers, mobile field work, and more.
A little background
A QR code is a 2D barcode that originated with Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, to track vehicles through assembly. It was later followed by a Data Matrix 2D code, PDF417, and Aztec. QR and Data Matrix are most commonly used for retail, manufacturing, logistics, government, entertainment, healthcare, marketing, and advertising. The PDF417 can hold more the1.1 KB of data and is often used for photos, fingerprints, signatures, and graphics. The Aztec has been adopted by airlines for boarding passes.
Linear barcodes (1D), simply couldn’t carry enough data (about 20-25 characters). 2D barcodes can store up to 4,000 characters.
The “why” and “how”
A 1D barcode provides information. Think of a 2D barcode as a guide. A scan of this barcode takes you to a landing page, website, brochure, contact information, instruction manual, coupon, special offer, article, social media page, or other digital content.
As a marketing, sales, or technical support tool, a QR code or Data Matrix code makes it easy for your customers to connect with you. And when they scan the code, you collect important data to follow the traffic.
Here are some ways that businesses are using 2D barcodes:
- Business card or convention nametag, which connects to the company’s website or the professional’s contact information and LinkedIn profile.
- Signs on trucks, trailers, property for sale, and at promotional venues
- Brochures, posters, ads, and promotional materials
- Point-of-sale receipts that direct the user to a survey, prize drawing, special offer, or coupon
- Product packaging and tags, to provide additional information, including warranty registration, installation help, and troubleshooting instructions
- Patient wristbands and medications
- Event tickets and boarding passes
- Event invitation to direct the guest to RSVP or registration page
Most smartphones can scan a 2D code, either using the phone’s camera or a mobile app. Businesses that rely on automated data collection require a heavy volume of scanning, so we recommend the use of a 2D scanner, which can read both 1D and 2D barcodes. For the broadest variety of 2D imagers, we recommend Zebra, for the durability, performance, and ease of use.
When you’re ready to take advantage of QR codes for your business, talk to us at Informs. We have offices throughout the United States, ensuring you get personal service, no matter when you call.
What is UDI?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a system to adequately identify medical devices through distribution and use. This rule requires the label of these devices to include a unique device identifier (UDI), unless there is some sort of exception. The system basically requires that the label and packaging include a UDI in both text and machine-readable (i.e., barcode) form. In the event that a device is intended to be used more than once, the FDA requires that the UDI be marked directly on the device.
Device labelers must also submit certain information about each device to FDA’s Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID).
This device ID system offers a number of benefits; it will work to improve patient safety, encourage technology innovation, and help modernize device surveillance (post-market) as it pertains to pre-market approval or new uses for existing devices .
Class I and unclassified devices will have to meet UDI labeling, GUDID data submission and standard date formatting rules by September 24, 2020. The new deadlines do not apply to Class I or unclassified devices that are implantable, life-supporting or life-sustaining.
Approximately 1.4 million records have already been submitted to the FDA’s Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID) as of May 1, 2017. However, UDI implementation for higher-risk devices has created some technical and policy challenges for both FDA regulators and registrants, so by extending the UDI labeling timelines for low-risk devices they can address and remedy the challenges before more data is collected.
The FDA classifies medical devices based on the risks associated with the device. Devices are classified into one of three categories—Class I, Class II, and Class III.
Class I devices are deemed to be low risk and subject to minimal regulatory controls. Dental floss, for example, is classified as a Class I device.
Class II devices are higher risk devices requiring more controls in order to provide a reasonable confidence that the device is safe and effective. For example, pregnancy test kits are classified as Class II devices.
Class III devices are largely higher-risk devices subject to a much higher level of regulatory control. Class III devices must go through the FDA for approval before being released to the market. Implantable pacemakers are considered Class III devices.
Benefits of the UDI system
The Unique Device Identification (UDI) System opens up a number of benefits to the healthcare system, consumers, providers, the industry as a whole, and the FDA:
- More accurate reporting; with the ability to analyze reports to identify and resolve issues quickly and effectively.
- Greater opportunity to reduce medical errors caused by misidentification of devices, or to assist with access to detailed information about the device.
- A clear standard that allows these entities to document device use; this applies to EHR (electronic health records), clinical information systems, registries, etc.
- A unique and standardized identifier enables manufacturers, distributors and healthcare facilities to better manage device recalls.
For more information on UDI or if you need guidance preparing for labeling requirements, be sure to contact us.
Industrial label printers are necessary for high volume barcode and label printing because they are built to withstand rugged conditions and harsh environments such as those found the typical manufacturing facility.
Most manufacturers are printing a large number of labels for inventory tags or asset management, so they need a robust barcode label printer that can stand up to the volume as well as the environment. If a printer is not designed to withstand dust, debris or rough handling, it will not be able to stand up to the demands of an industrial, high-volume environment. Here are 8 factors to consider when choosing a barcode label printer for use in a manufacturing or warehousing facility.
- Quick Deployment
Time is the one resource you can never regain once it’s gone, so manufacturers need quick deployment and easy configuration to minimize downtime when setting up a new industrial label printer. Quick deployment usually means user-friendly, so you can be assured that training time is minimal and integration is fast and easy.
The high-volume duty cycle in most industrial applications means that reliability must be a prime consideration. Downtime can be costly, and to have to hold up production while the printer is being repaired can mean the difference between happy customers and lost business. Look for proven reliability when doing your research.
Most industrial environments are dirty, dusty, hot, wet or all of the above. To survive, an industrial barcode label printer should be designed to function well in adverse conditions. It must be built for high-volume use, with a rugged design to handle plenty of throughput and multiple users.
Most industrial applications equal heavy volume—hundreds or thousands of labels and tags must be printed every day, without interruptions or failures. The right industrial label printer should be capable of printing at a speed of 12 dps to meet the demand; with print quality to match.
No two industrial deployments are the same, and most environments undergo constant upgrades and changes. Select a printer with multiple connectivity options, including USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, universal standards and more. Also look for remote management capabilities and multi-lingual management options since most manufacturing operations are melting pots of languages.
Space is always at a premium in manufacturing, warehousing and other industrial environments, so many industrial printers are available in multiple form factors so you can find one that meets your needs. You also want a printer that can handle multiple label sizes and materials so you don’t have to deploy multiple printers to handle large and small labels, or paper and foil labels for example.
- RFID Capable
While barcode labels are the most common for data collection today, RFID is gaining ground in many manufacturing and warehouse environments for further increased productivity and greater accuracy. With technology evolving as fast as it does, consider an industrial label printer that is RFID capable. The ideal choice might be one that is capable of simultaneously encoding and printing frequency-agile RFID tags.
- Easy to Use
Touch screens, color screens, screens visible in low light conditions or under bright lights and a multi-language interface should all be on your must-have list. And be sure to partner with a provider who can walk you through the various options available and help you determine which attributes and options are best suited to your unique requirements.
For more information on the world of industrial printers and help to determine if your existing solution is making the grade, contact us today to schedule a warehouse walk-through.