Does the problem really reside with the barcode scanner?

Barcode Scanning 101

Posted by Leslie Titus Bryant on Jul 4, 2018 4:23:50 PM
Leslie Titus Bryant
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Today we consume data from a variety of places, digital channels, and different devices–often all at the very same time. This technological age can be inspiring and overwhelming. The amount of "smart" devices that seem to connect themselves has created a widespread perception that barcode scanners are plug-and-play. While this may be true in some situations like the simplicity of reading a UPC barcode at retail, it is not the case for the majority of workflow scenarios that need the data captured to do more than display a price. For example, 2D barcodes, tiny or extremely large barcodes, damaged or poor contrasting barcodes, scanning hundreds of barcodes at a single time, or trying to scan something that may have many different types of barcode symbologies all together is far more complicated,

Specific coding and superior scanning technology make it possible for the barcode scanner to decode these more complicated examples as well as parse only the data wanted from each of the different codes. This unique ability weeds out most barcode scanners on the market, but when you think of the time it can save you it is really worth doing your homework. Instead of having to scan one code at a time while trying to cover up others to get the right read, over and over again. You could actually scan them all at the same time and have it deliver only the data you want. Genius right? Options like this can not only save you time and money depending on your workflow, they are custom configured and require working with a barcode scanning hardware company that loves to delight their customers by offering this type of service. 

Our daily life is controlled by data. When we don't get the right data we are requesting everything seems to come to a screeching halt. We consume data in many different ways and through various software applications. When a barcode fails to scan or delivers a misread, the same is true. Everything just stops. We have all been in "that line" when the barcode won't read and the repeated typing in of the number under stress isn't working. Over the intercom we hear "manager to register 10"... The right barcode scanners makes even reading damaged, reflective, or curved barcodes effortless. The right barcode scanners simply start with the most exceptional intellectual property powering each and every scan.

Now that you know a little bit about the complexity in actually being able to capture the barcode data you need, what about getting that barcode information into the application or programs you need to get your job done? Look at healthcare applications for example, this could mean sensitive patient data is captured via a barcode scanner, translated into a unique and appropriate format in the background, and transferred into the hospitals' HIS (Healthcare Information System) application. 

For this workflow and others, the data translation is arguably the most critical step, and is generally the reason for misreads and errors. Barcode scanners are only as good as the decoding software that powers them–and not all decoding software is created equal. This area of differentiation is worth taking a second to understand. Without getting too techy, translation takes the scanned data, modifies it appropriately for cross-platform communication, and populates the appropriate fields within whatever program you're using. If the translation decoding is not done properly the entire thing fails. As a result, most users generally blame the scanner when data capture issues arise; however, the glitch usually resides with the data translation, not the scanner. Starting with the best scanning software first, then deciding on a reader can make everyone's day just a little bit brighter (and the check out line manager free).

Most barcode manufacturers will have different product lines that tailor to specific industries with various "special" features–in fact they will all look very similar and are priced very close to the same. No matter the special features or fancy big words, the device will only be as good as the brain that powers it (and we don't mean yours). It is important to realize there is a difference in barcode scanners and barcode scanning companies, it is in the very foundation, the decoding algorithms and firmware that needs a closer evaluation as well as the company's willingness to create a simple coded configuration solution that works for you.

Code Complete was built upon the idea of making it easier for customers to use our barcode scanners. Code's Technical Support program is designed to help identify which products best match your workflow situation (site surveys) and assist customers during deployments and beyond to mitigate any possibility of communication issues across software application platforms. To find out more, check out our services website ( or contact your sales representative.

For over 20 years, Code has been an industry pioneer, leader, and champion for data capture innovation. By crafting and continuing to perfect its unique decoding algorithms, Code’s scanning technology consistently delivers unparalleled, image-based scanning and decoding performance industries depend on worldwide. Code designs and manufactures a complete line of market-leading data capture solutions that include both hardware and software products. Code’s scanning technology has been an essential partner solving critical workflow problems in healthcare, government, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and more for decades.


Topics: Code Complete, Services, Data Capture, workflow solution, barcode scanning, barcode, barcode scanning workflow, how barcode scanning works, technical support

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