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What is Barcode Verification?

Barcode verification is the best way to assure that the barcodes you are printing or receiving are good codes.  Almost every product at some point in its lifecycle has a barcode associated with it.  Verifying a barcode tells you everything about a barcode and how it should perform in any environment with a wide range of scanners.  It will also give you an indication of how other barcodes printed at the same time will perform. 
Barcode verification requires specific equipment and can not be done with a standard scanner.  Scanning a barcode is simply machine recognition of data contained in a barcode, where as verification provides an analysis of the data encoded in a barcode.  This would mean that different scanners would read different barcodes with varying degrees of success.  There would be no way to assure quality by simply using a scanner to scan a barcode.  A verifier actually takes the scan, analyzes it, and predicts how well the barcode will be read by the typical scanner.  It decodes, measures, and checks the formatting of every symbol, giving an indication of areas that are deficient so that the user can make the necessary changes to ensure quality product.

Types of Verification
There are two types of verification, Traditional and ANSI.  Traditional verification analyzes how well a barcode was printed.  It checks print contrast, element widths, and average bar deviation.  ANSI verification is much more involved, and is required for compliance in certain production and supply chains.  ANSI verification also requires physical contact with the barcode, which means the verifier is usually in a pen or mouse wand style. 
ANSI Verification 
ANSI Verification predicts how well a scanner using a particular wavelength of light and particular aperture size will read a symbol.  There are 8 criteria involved in ANSI verification, along with Quiet Zone verification.  Each of these is evaluated through a single scan path, which are contained in a scan reflectance profile.  Five of these attributes are subject to a pass fail criteria (A to F).  The remaining four are graded (A, B, C, D, and F).  The overall symbol grade is obtained by averaging the grades of the individual attributes.  The formal verification of a U.P.C. symbol requires ten scan profiles.  The overall grade for the scan reflectance profile (or single scan path) is the lowest grade for any of the nine attributes.  Below we will introduce the attributes and give an overview of what they include. 
Edge Determination - If a verifier is unable to find the correct number of bars and spaces, it reports a failure.  There must be 59 elements (30 bars and 29 spaces) for an A grade.  This is a pass/fail grade. 
Minimum reflectance - This is also a pass/fail grade.  In order to pass, the darkest bar must have a reflectance less than half of the background. 
Symbol Contrast - The blackest possible bars printed on the whitest possible surface would have a 100% contrast.  Obviously, this is rarely the case in real life.  When contrast is to low, scanners can not distinguish the bars from the spaces.  This receives a grade A through F.
Minimum Edge Contrast - This parameter measures the smallest value for edge contrast in a scan reflectance profile between a bar and space.  This receives a pass/fail grade.
Modulation - Scanners and verifiers perceive the narrow spaces to be less white than wide ones, and thin bars less black than wide bars.  This is really Minimum Edge Contrast divided by Symbol Contrast.  This is a graded parameter, A through F.
Defects - There are two types of defects, voids and spots.  Voids are light areas in a bar, and spots are dark areas in spaces.  Obviously you do not want these; as the scanner will become confused and could perhaps transmit a defect as data that is not really contained in the barcode.  This attribute is graded A through F.
Quiet Zone - A very critical attribute for a barcode, it is an area of uniform contrast that begins at the outer edges of the left and right guard bars.  The scanner has to have this to decode. This is a pass/fail grade.
Decode - This simply states that the correct bar code value must be read a certain number of times.  When the verifier is able to decode a symbol, including the guards and the check digit is consistent with the other 11 digits, it receives an A, and otherwise it gets an F.  This makes it a pass/fail grade.
Decodability - This is determined by measuring the accuracy of a printed barcode against an appropriate reference algorithm.  Each Symbology receives a different algorithm.  It takes the scan reflectance profile, and compares how closely it comes to approaching decode failure.  Symbols with high dimensional accuracy will have high decodability grades. 
In example, to give us an idea as to how the overall symbol grade is obtained, let's assume we verify barcode x, which is a U.P.C. The ten profile grades returned were C, D, B, B, A, C, B, B, A, and C.  The symbol grade would be B, which meets the minimum U.P.C. grade of C.

Why Verify?
As we have explained already, verification can help reduce the number of attempts a cashier has to scan a barcode, or key it in manually.  Every industry that has a high cost associated with printing bad barcodes should have verification.  Suppliers to major retail chains like Wal-Mart need to have ANSI verification to avoid fines and continue to supply to these stores.   People printing barcodes directly onto corrugated materials need to ensure the readability of the code against low contrast.   Printing houses that put barcodes on printed press can avoid costly job reprints by having a verification system.  Medical and pharmaceutical suppliers need to ensure properly marked product to avoid patients receiving incorrect medicine.  Chemical companies need to ensure properly marked product to avoid costly fines and law suits.  Auto suppliers have to meet AIAG specification, and USPS suppliers have to meet postal specifications. 

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This page last updated on 10/6/2020 7:23:57 AM