On-Line Bar Code Verification Revisited

In an earlier post we talked about an application in which our client needed to verify the print quality of bar codes as they were being printed.  We recommended an after market bolt-on scanning device that could trigger a divert from the manufacturing line if a sub-standard bar code was detected.

Well, we have another client with a similar business problem – ensuring that the bar codes they print on their products are scannable by their end user customers.  However, this application differs in that the labels are printed in a peel and present mode and then manually applied to the product.  So, the after market Printronix device was not an appropriate solution.

We consulted with Bruce McDowell at Datamax who recommended the H class thermal transfer printer with an on-board linear scanning device option.  This high performance 300 DPI printer employs a CCD scanner to monitor bar code scannability as it is being printed.  The user can set a series of thresholds including bar code type, number of bar codes present or minimum number of good reads that must be met by the scanned bar code label.  If the bar code does not pass, the user also has a number of remedies to choose including re-printing the label or simply stopping the printer.

While this solution does not provide true ANSI bar code verification it is about half the price of those devices and does provide simple bar code validation which is more than adequate in this and many other applications.  We will piloting this device with our client in a few weeks – so, more on this solution later.

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