Barcoding Made Simple

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Barcoding is a powerful technology and although it may seem like a complex issue for some, when explained correctly it is actually something that anyone will be able to understand. Following are some easy to follow explanations about barcoding that can help you understand this enabling technology.

To understand barcoding, you must first understand what a barcode is. Simply put, a barcode is nothing more than a set of spaces and lines that are used to represent a group of numeric or alphabetic characters, depending on the type of barcode being used. A barcode scanner reads a barcode by a beam of light that deciphers the reflection of the barcode. This is why these scanners sometimes have trouble reading the barcode when the background includes colours or the surface is shiny.

There are several different types of barcodes, with the most common being Code 39, which is used in Asset Management, Code 128, used by factories, and UPC/EAN code, which is used by retail stores. The type of barcode that is right for you depends on what you want to do. If you are having trouble figuring out what type of barcode you are currently using by looking at it, a barcode scanner can usually tell you what type of barcode it is reading.

The type of barcode scanner you should use will depend on your specific requirements. The most basic scanner is one that is pressed up against the barcode, known as a contact or CCD scanner. A Laser barcode scanner is the most popular. It can be used in a hands-free stand, reads the code quickly, and can read a barcode from a distance of up to 330m. An Image barcode scanner is the newest type of barcode scanner and is typically used to read two dimensional barcodes.

There are two common ways that a barcode scanner can be connected to your computer. When the barcode scanner is plugged in between the keyboard and the computer, it is known as a "keyboard wedge". The other most common way to connect a barcode scanner to a computer is by using a USB port. There are now portable barcode scanners available as well. The new technologies used for these types of scanners include Bluetooth technology and the use of PDA's(Personal Digital Assistants). These portable scanners typically allow a wandering distance of up to 10 metres.

In the event you want to print barcodes, the options that are available to you will depend on the number of labels you need and your budget. One of the most popular methods that is used to print a large number of labels is a barcode label printer. Another popular method is the use of barcode fonts, which can typically be found in Microsoft Excel or Word and can be printed using a standard laser printer.

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