Does your product barcode check out? Without a good quality, accurate and scannable barcode, you can’t sell your products, retailers can’t stock your products, and customers can’t buy your products.
With many retailers becoming increasingly intolerant of products causing scanning errors, a problematic barcode could spell the end of a relationship.
But that’s not all.Barcode failure can slow down production lines and cause costly reprints, wasted product and chargebacks. It can mean traceability is difficult, if not impossible, during recall situations, resulting in expensive fines and ruined relationships.
It’s no wonder more and more manufacturers are looking to product barcode verification to reduce the risk.
What is product barcode verification?
Product barcode verification ensures a barcode will be readable and function properly along the supply chain. It grades the quality of barcodes according to established standards.
Barcode verifiers scan and check the barcodes according to pre-set quality parameters. In Australia, these have to meet the industry standards set by GS1 Australia. The parameters measure some image-related and data-related factors required to identify and decode a product barcode.
GS1 Australia’s barcode verification specialists will work with you to test your barcodes and ensure your product barcode meets the international standards for print quality. These standards (ISO/IEC 15426) have been developed to set the benchmark for quality and readability.
The verifier looks at the barcode symbol in the same way as a scanner but also grades the symbol’s quality between 4 to 0 (A-F) based on how close it is to perfect. The lower the grade, the higher the possibility of scanning difficulties and the higher the cost to your business. The target measurement for all product barcodes is ISO Grade 4, with the minimum acceptable measurement of ISO Grade 1.5.
As well as grading the barcode’s print quality, GS1 Australia will also check for other elements such as size, colour, quiet zones (light margins), bar height, and barcode location – all the things that make up the perfect barcode.
Once complete, they will generate a barcode verification report that you can present to retailers.
You may find this piece on barcode quality and its importance within manufacturing interesting.
Why is product barcode verification important?
To understand why verification is so critical, we need to look at the purpose of a product barcode. Also referred to as “primary barcodes”, product barcodes are used at retail point of sale (POS) and are included within the design of retail packaging. Its technical name is a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) barcode because it includes a unique number that identifies that trade item globally – and that trade item alone. Product barcodes can be used to contain variable-measure, weight or price information too.
Here are more codes every manufacturer should know.
With that in mind, here’s why product barcode verification is essential…
Ensures readability along the supply chain
Barcode verification helps ensure that codes are readable and meet performance requirements in any operation. Barcode verification is, therefore, a vital quality control tool because it ensures a barcode’s complete scannability along the supply chain.
Meet quality and industry standards
Product barcode verification ensures compliance with contract and industry requirements. It ensures producers and manufacturers create barcodes that meet minimum quality standards and can demonstrate compliance with printed quality reports.
Saves time and money
If your product barcode doesn’t scan correctly, it can be expensive. We’re talking about manufacturing errors, production downtime, product returns and even penalties. Think about the cost of re-designing, reprinting, recalling and reshipping corrected batches if a barcode doesn’t work. Verification means you avoid this by knowing about barcode issues early in the process, helping you save time and money.
Boosts customer satisfaction
Planning to sell your products through Coles, Metcash and Woolworths? You need a GS1 Barcode Verification Report. These aren’t the only Australian retailers asking for the report before they work with suppliers, as it gives retailers the assurance that your products will scan easily in the warehouse and at the checkout.
Beyond the report: why you need ongoing inspection
Beyond the verification report, you need ongoing product barcode inspection. Why? Because it’s not enough to only check productbarcodes at the start of your product packaging design process. What happens when print quality starts to decline? Or there’s a one-off error with the barcodes? One error could lead to a whole batch of products leaving the factory with a poor quality barcode, which can lead to rejected shipments, customer fines, costly returns, and damaged retailer relationships. All from one barcode error that could have been easily avoided.
That’s why ongoing vision inspection and monitoring within your packaging and processing line is critical. Using cameras and software, a vision inspection system checks and analyses your barcodes against predetermined tolerances and criteria. The best part is the system can do all this in real-time and without operator intervention. Any quality issues are detected and corrected right away, so you can make sure faulty codes don’t leave your factory doors. Instead, you can set up the system to trigger a process that sends the product to a different path for relabelling or straight to the reject bin. This is possible when you integrate your coding and labelling systems with vision inspection systems, all managed by Matthews iDSnet software. See below to download a free whitepaper explaining why this integration works.
This isn’t just for large businesses either – smaller manufacturing businesses realise the return on investment of a basic vision inspection system for product barcodes, too.
As a GS1 Strategic Alliance Partner, Matthews Australasia has the knowledge and experience to guide you to the best barcode printing and labelling solution for your business, and ensure you tap into the full benefits of barcodes and GS1 standards. Got questions about your barcodes? Get in touch!
Need a vision inspection system for your barcodes? We can help custom design your vision system to meet your needs. Contact us to find out the most suitable vision inspection solution for your application.
Looking for more information? Matthews’ resource library has lots of free-to-download information for Australian manufacturers.
Image credit: iStock/ sabuhinovruzov