Barcodes & Barcode scanner

What is it about?

Since the launch of UPC / EAN as the standard for the retail trade towards the end of the 70s, barcodes are omnipresent in everyday life. Whether on packaging, tickets or the return-shipping label by DHL, UPS, FedEx or similar logistic companies: Barcodes or also line codes are a fast, simple and accurate procedure to collect data.

Used in the right way, barcodes can reduce employee's amount of work, push the performance capability of a company, as well as record a great number of different data.

The most modern type of barcode is currently the QR Code

Content

What is a barcode and what does it store?

A barcode shows a series of vertically aligned bars A and spaces B of different thickness. There are various combinations of bars and spaces that represent different characters.

Combinations of bars and spaces encode signs

A barcode contains no describing data. The data are only reference numbers by which the computer looks for an appropriate data set on an electronic data medium, which contains the describing or other relevant information.

How does a barcode work?

If you go over the barcode with a barcode scanner, the light source of the scanner is absorbed by the dark bars, while it is reflected by the bright spaces in between. Inside the scanner is a photo sensor that receives the reflected light and converts it into an electrical signal.

Beneath the classic EAN codes, there are many other barcodes. Some of them are pure numeric, some have a fix length and can additionally contain numbers and letters (Code 93, Code 128 and Code 39).

Barcode examples

1D barcodes EAN / UPC for wholesale and retail trade (POS)

1 UPC-A Code   |   2 UPC-E Code   |   3 EAN-13 Code   |   4 EAN-8 Code

1D barcodes for distribution & logistic (non-POS)

5 Code 128   |   6 ITF-14 / GTIN-14 Code

2D barcodes for product information and marketing

7 Datamatrix Code   |   8 QR Code, regular   |   9 QR Code with design and company logo (same functionality as 8)

What is UPC / EAN?

UPC, the "Universal Product Code", has 12 digits and is mainly used in the USA and Canada. EAN, the "European Article Number" is usually 13 or 8 digits and, as the name suggests, is used primarily in Europe. UPC numbers can be converted into a valid EAN number by prefixing a zero. - Various codes are discussed in more detail below.

The Code 128

Code 128 is one of the most widely used 1D barcodes due to its high information density. The entire ASCII data set can be displayed in Code 128 (letters, numbers, special characters), even upper and lower case letters are possible.

The Code 128 is popular due to its wide range of design options and can be used in most applications with relative ease. If the code has been printed correctly, it is read by all common 1D and 2D barcode scanners in the standard configuration.

Application areas of the Code 128

  •   Production
  •   Document management
  •   Shipping, transport & logistics
  •   Electronics industry
  •   Packaging industry
  •   Chemical industry
  •   Pharmaceutical industry
  •   Automotive industry
  •   Internal company applications (inventory, serial numbers)

The Code 39

With the Code 39 (3 out of 9), a total of 43 characters (numbers, capital letters and selected special characters) can be displayed. However, since the information density is lower than with Code 128, Code 39 is not used too often. Nevertheless, it is supported by all common 1D and 2D barcode scanners.

Character overview of Code 39

The possible code sections for code 39
The possible code sections for code 39

The superscript star * in Code 39 serves as a start and stop symbol. It is therefore often the first and last character in the plain text line. Code 39 has no length restriction. Furthermore, it is not necessary to pay attention to an even / odd number of digits.

Application areas of the Code 39

  •   Production, transport & logistics
  •   Parcel services
  •   Electronics industry
  •   Automotive industry
  •   Internal company purposes (e.g. serial and batch numbers)
  •   Chemical industry
  •   Pharmaceutical industry
  •   Health and medical sector
  •   ODETTE (= Transport Label Standard / Automotive industry & suppliers)
 
[ Picture credits of graphic: Source | Vector graphic Copyright ]

The Datamatrix Code

The Datamatrix Code is one of the most popular 2D codes besides the QR Code. Whereas the conventional 1D barcode is represented by different bars, the Datamatrix code is represented by the arrangement of dots of the same size (black or white boxes) within the border.

Even if the code is damaged by up to 25%, it remains legible thanks to the latest and currently most reliable version of error correction (ECC 200, Reed-Solomon error correction).

For 2D codes (e.g. Datamatrix, QR Code) 2D barcode scanners are required for reading, which have a different optical module compared to 1D barcode scanners. 2D barcode scanners can usually also read 1D codes. Datamatrix codes can usually also be read by smartphones with a camera.

Application areas of the Datamatrix Code

  •   Production
  •   Pharmaceutical industry
  •   Automotive industry
  •   Internal company applications (batch and serial numbers)

The QR Code

The QR Code (Quick Response Code) is the most modern 2D barcode. It consists of a square matrix of white and black squares. Originally developed in Japan, it was intended for marking assemblies and components for logistics in automobile production.

Besides the margin of error of up to 30%, the QR Code is very space-saving and has a flexible character set. These characteristics are also used when creating so-called design codes, where e.g. a logo was used. This is why the QR Code is often used in marketing and advertising, in addition to its original application in production logistics.

Application areas of the QR Code

  •   Production (serial numbers, batch numbers)
  •   Retail trade (web links, telephone numbers)
  •   Marketing (addresses, web links)
  •   Information (web links, information, addresses)

The EAN / GTIN Codes

The probably best-known barcode is the EAN Code (European Article Number) mentioned at the beginning. In 2009, the term EAN was replaced by "GTIN". GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number and has been the common term since then. The main use of GTIN codes is in wholesale and retail. It identifies products in such a way that they can be registered at scanner cash registers. To be more precise: the code is the identification of the individual item itself (e.g. cable marker clip set 6 pieces) or also the carton or pallet (e.g. 12 x cable marker clip set 6 pieces). This information is stored in the code.

Whether a single pack or a pack with several individual packs: The product number in the code is the same
Whether a single pack or a pack with several individual packs: The product number in the code is the same

The standard version of the code has 13 digits, for particularly small-format products there is a short version with 8 digits, the EAN 8. As the number supply for the EAN 8 is limited, the need for this code variant must be proven separately. The last digit is the check digit.

Since the scanning process at the checkout should be as effective as possible, large supermarket chains are interested in a good print quality of the EAN code, which is why the error rate here is very low. EAN / GTIN codes are used in wholesale and retail.

Product examples Barcode Scanner by Delock


Micro USB Barcode scanner 1D for Android • Line scanner

Connector: 1 x USB 2.0 Type Micro-B OTG male
Trigger: automatic
Reading distance: ca. 35 mm to 280 mm
Weight: ca. 6.5 g
Dimensions (LxWxH): ca. 28.5 x 17.8 x 18.6 mm

Item 90281

This ultra-compact, gold-coloured scanner with protective cover and clip can be connected to a USB type Micro-B socket on an Android smartphone or tablet. With the linear CMOS image sensor all common 1D barcodes can be recognised, even on displays and monitors.

The scanning process is automatically triggered by the software. The scanner adapts to the ambient brightness and records up to 650 scans per second. The protective flap serves as dust protection and, thanks to the clip, the scanner can be practically attached to clothing.


USB Barcode scanner 1D with cable • Line scanner

Connector: 1 x USB Type-A male
Trigger: scan button
Reading distance: ca. 25 mm to 507 mm
Weight: ca. 170 g
Cable length: ca. 2 m
Dimensions (LxWxH): ca. 156 x 71 x 91 mm

Item 90279

This scanner can be connected to a PC or notebook with a free USB type A socket. With laser class 1 and linear CMOS image sensor it precisely captures all common 1D barcode types at long range as well as codes displayed on displays and monitors. The scanner automatically adjusts to the ambient brightness.

Under optimum lighting conditions, up to 280 scans per second are possible. It has an additional white LED that illuminates the barcode in low ambient light. Thanks to the technology used, the laser light is harmless to the human eye.


Bluetooth Barcode scanner 1D with charging cradle • Line scanner

Connector: 1 x USB Type Micro-B female (5 V power supply)
Trigger: scan button
Reading distance: ca. 25 mm to 507 mm
Weight
      Barcode scanner: ca. 164 g
      Charging cradle: ca. 238 g
Maße (LxBxH)
      Barcode scanner: ca. 156 x 71 x 91 mm
      Charging cradle: ca. 80 x 80 x 61 mm

Item 90280

This wireless scanner can be linked to a PC, smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. With class 1 laser and linear CMOS image sensor, it accurately captures all common 1D barcode types at long range, as well as codes displayed on displays and monitors. With full battery up to 25,000 scans can be captured. The battery can be recharged via the included station or via USB cable.

The wireless range is up to 100 m. The scanner automatically adjusts to the ambient brightness. Under optimal lighting conditions, up to 280 scans per second are possible. It has an additional white LED which illuminates the barcode in low ambient light. Thanks to the technology used, the laser light is harmless to the human eye.


Serial Barcode scanner 2D fixed mount • Image scanner

Connectors:
      1 x Serial RS-232 DB9 female with screws
      1 x 5 V DC jack
Trigger: automatic, software
Reading distance: ca. 45 mm bis 285 mm
Weight:
      Barcode scanner: ca. 85 g
      Mounting brackets: ca. 15 g
Resistant housing against mechanics, dust, water
Variable alignment due to mounting brackets
Cable length: ca. 85.9 cm
Dimensions (LxWxH): ca. 56 x 41 x 20 mm

Item 90287

This image scanner with CMOS image sensor can be connected to a device with a free RS-232 interface and captures all common 1D and 2D barcode types precisely as well as codes displayed on displays and monitors. The scanning process is triggered by the software instead of a push button.

Even in complete darkness, the scanner switches on automatically as soon as an object enters its scanning area. A red and a green LED indicate operational readiness or positive scanning process. Various optical and acoustic signals can be configured as required.

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