Barcode EDI

RVCF (Retail Value Chain Federation) Supply Chain Guidelines: Barcode and Label Errors

Common label issues include the inability to read the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) barcode and label placement on the carton.

Technical Specifications and Verification

GS1, in concert with the International Standards Organization (ISO), maintains technical specifications for each barcode type. They can be found in the GS1 General Specifications on Technical specs include using the right symbology, Start/Stop Digits, Guard Bars, Symbology Identifiers, Check Digits, and Application Identifiers.

Barcode dimensions are also critical. The width of the bars and spaces, the height, magnification, contrast, reflectivity, and quiet space (white space before and after a barcode) must be within spec for a quality barcode. Again, good label printing software, a well maintained printer and the right label stock will ensure high quality, as does using a barcode verifier which measures and grades these requirements. Verification should be used at regular intervals in the printing process to catch problems before the shipment is out the door. GS1 guidance is that a label used in retail is verified as a grade “C”. Scanning a stationary barcode with an image scanner (i.e. a mobile phone) doesn’t “prove” the barcode is acceptable. It doesn’t replicate the environment in which a moving barcode will be scanned, including ambient light, dirt, speed, type of scanner used, and so on. An original barcode must be verified – not a photographed copy.

Troubleshooting Barcode Errors

Fortunately, many linear barcode issues with the SSCC can be identified with a trained eye. They include white lines, voids or feathered edges on the black bars or specs in the white spaces. Labels which are torn or wrinkled when applied, or printed with a wrinkled ribbon are obvious, as are those going around the carton edge or too close to the edge. Insufficient quiet space and bars that are not dark enough are relatively easy to identify. Have procedures in place to  quickly reprint a torn label or swap out a printer that needs maintenance. Invest in barcode training for employees so they become valuable internal consultants to your business.

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