When do you need to verify bar codes?
The question seems to imply that there are times not to verify, and that is not what I’m suggesting. It is always better to verify than never to, but there are good times and not-so-good times to do it. I know this from personal observation.
It is an amazing thing to be invited to a major retailer or their contract printer who has not been verifying the bar codes on their consumer packaging. But it is even more amazing to find that many major retailers are not requiring their contract package printers to verify.
When to verify? Any time is better than never
The best time to verify is, of course, before the bar code enters the retail channel.
It is better to detect a batch of bad bar codes and reprint them or over-sticker them before they get out and wreak all the havoc they inevitably will on inventories, including point-of-sale meltdowns and unhappy consumers.
But there is an optimum time to verify.
When to verify a barcode is when something can be done about improving performance if, for some reason, it isn’t performing as it should. And that time is the moment of conception, if you will, when the ink is going on the package.
I can almost hear readers say, “Well duh!” but this is not always so obvious to a lot of otherwise very smart people in very large consumer product companies.
Maybe it's human nature; maybe verification seems like a small detail in comparison to all the much more earth-shaking issues and concerns they face; maybe it's complacency.
The most often-heard rationale for not verifying is, “We’ve never had a problem.”
When to verify? When it can make a difference
When to verify? Here’s a better way to think about it and talk about it with your contract printer.
“You print our bar codes and it’s important to us – and to you – that they perform as they should. We are holding you responsible for them — do you understand?"
Here is what you must do to test them. Buy a verifier that is ISO/ANSI compliant. Buy as many of them as you need to test every bar code you print. Make sure you go to a vendor who will train you on how to use it.
Then use it—and be prepared to prove to us that you did. Do you have any questions?”
When to verify? When there is a risk to be managed
They may not like it, but they love to cash your check and they want to continue doing so. You’re not being a bad guy, you are just being clear about what you expect from them in return for your loyalty. You are managing risk and protecting not only your business but your vendor’s business too.
A 30-year veteran of the bar code industry, John Nachtrieb and his company Barcode-Test help provide solutions for customers' bar code quality challenges. He assists product managers, package printers, and suppliers by managing bar code related risk, and supporting bar code integrity over the long haul. You can find more of his writing on bar code quality at the Barcode-Test blog.
See related articles:
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Official Sources of specifications and informational guides
GS1 General Specifications - http://www.gs1.org/docs/gsmp/barcodes/GS1_General_Specifications.pdf
GS1 Bar code Implementation - http://www.gs1.org/barcodes/implementation
GS1 Pick the Bar Code Placement - http://www.gs1.org/barcodes/implementation#9
Getting Started With AIDC - Free white paper By AIMGLOBAL - http://www.aimglobal.org/?page=get_started
Barcode Quality Step By Step - Connecting the Dots from the Verification Report to Solving Your Barcode Problems - Free white paper by Barcode-Test
Assorted Bar Code Resources - https://barcode.com/assorted-bar-code-resources.html
Bar Code Printing Methods -http://www.gs1.org/barcodes/technical/bar_code_printing_methods
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