Over the years, enterprises have enjoyed the numerous benefits that have been brought about by barcoding technology. One notable benefit is that barcodes have made it possible for users to collect and record a large amount of data within minutes. However, as is the case with all technologies and inventions, constant improvements are a must for them to remain relevant.

Therefore, the answer to the question of whether or not barcode scanning speed matters is an outstanding Yes. With the ever-increasing demand to process information faster, increased production levels, and customers’ need for efficient services, the last thing you need is a barcode scanner that cannot keep up.

Let’s discuss in detail what barcode scanning speed entails and how it can be improved.

Types of Barcode Scanners

One of the factors that affect barcode scanning speed is the type of the barcode scanner. There are four types of barcode scanners based on the technology that is used to scan. Let’s discuss each of these.

  1. Pen Type Readers

This scanner resembles a small pen. The scanner has an LED light and a photodiode in its tip. In order to scan, the tip is passed over a barcode whereby the LED light illuminates the black and white lines. The reflections from the barcode are measured by the photodiode and converted to digital characters which can now be transmitted in a computer system.

Compared to other types of scanners, this scanner is the least expensive. To achieve the desired scanning results, the user needs to carefully move the scanner over the barcode at the right speed. Shaky hands and other involuntary hand movements can lead to inaccuracies in the data being scanned.

  1. Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) Barcode Scanner

CCD scanners are also known as LED scanners. These scanners have many LED lights arranged in a row. When the lights are directed onto a barcode, they measure the voltage of the ambient light which is then converted to digital characters.

These barcode scanners tend to be very expensive but also, they are very accurate. One of the disadvantages of these scanners is that the barcode has to be 3cm to 10cm away from the scanner for it to work. Another disadvantage is that the scanner cannot read a barcode that is longer than the screen of the scanner.

  1. Laser Barcode Scanner

This scanner is more accurate than the pen type scanner. During scanning, a laser beam is directed onto a mirror, which moves such that the laser moves across the barcode in a straight line. The light is reflected back to a diode and then converted to digital form. This scanner can read a barcode that is 15cm or 60cm away. A long-range laser scanner can read a barcode that is 50cm to 3 meters away. A laser scanner can only read ID barcodes. These scanners are widely used in the retail sector.

  1. 2D Imager Barcode Scanner

This scanner contains a video camera that has tiny lights arranged in multiple rows. The scanner takes a picture of the barcode which is then sent to software that decodes the information using complex digital decoding techniques. The main advantage of this scanner is that it can read the barcode from whichever direction. This increases the speed of scanning. The scanner is also able to read ID and 2D barcodes.

Reasons a Barcode Scanner May Fail to Function

When using a scanner, sometimes the barcode is not read at the first attempt. In such a scenario, you have to try a second or a third attempt until the barcode is read. This decreases barcode scanning speed and may be frustrating to the user. Sometimes, the scanner may completely fail to function. Let’s see some of the reasons that may lead to these two scenarios.

  1. Poor Quality Barcode Print

Poorly printed barcodes may take time before they are decoded or completely fail to be recognized by the scanner. Poorly printed barcodes may include barcodes with an inconsistent distribution of ink on the bars or use of faint colours on the barcode.

  1. Reading Position

As we have discussed above, some scanners can only scan the barcodes that are within a defined distance. This means that if the distance is exceeded the scanners will not work. Also, some scanners such as the laser scanners can only read barcodes from one horizontal direction. Therefore, if you change the position, the scanner will not function.

  1. Poor Colour Contrast

For a scanner to work properly, it needs to be able to differentiate the contrasting colours within the barcode. If the barcode is printed on a highly reflective surface, the scanner may misread the information or completely fail to scan.

  1. Settings of Your Scanner

Another reason that can make the scanner not to work is, the settings of the scanner are using. For instance, if your scanner can read both 1D and 2D barcodes but currently it is not reading 2D barcodes, it could be because the 2D functionality is switched off.

  1. Quiet Zone

Quiet Zone refers to the area that surrounds the barcode. The purpose of the quiet zone is to show where the barcodes start and where it ends. For a scanner to work properly, the quiet zone needs to be clearly defined so that the scanner does not end up scanning symbols that are outside the barcode.

Tips for Improving Barcode Scanning Speed

  1. Train your staff or users on how to use different types of scanners.
  2. Consider the environment where the scanner is being used. If you are using it outdoors where there is bright sunlight or in poorly lit rooms, you may need to change the settings of your scanner or get a scanner that can be used in such environments.
  3. Set your scanner according to the type of barcodes you are reading. For instance, if you are only reading 1D barcodes, turn off 2D reading capabilities.

To conclude, the barcode scanning speed is determined by several factors which when carefully met, will increase your productivity. Also, understanding the various types of scanners and how barcode technology works will help you get the right devices that will enable you to work with the desired speed and efficiency.