Data Collection & Verification

Input Devices For Data Collection - What Works Best In Each Environment

Once your product is labeled, how will you read that data and transfer it to a computer? How can you add it to your database? How do you use the data for better management and decision making?

There are a wide range of input technologies available to suit different needs: pens, wands, lasers, CCDs, fixed or portable scanners, hand held terminals, or magnetic card readers. The input devices you select will be based on how data collection fits in with your work flow. For environments where the bar coded items travel, fixed scanners can be installed to read bar codes as they travel along a high speed conveyor belt. Or they are passed over the scanner like in a grocery checkout line. Portable laser scanners are well-suited for scanning cartons at distances up to 30 feet away, or when moving around the product to be scanned. Laser scanners can read poor quality symbols or large bar codes and deliver first time read rate for better accuracy. They can also be used to scan through plastic or other coatings.

Magnetic card readers are ideal for tracking personnel activity including time and labor, and providing access security. Hand held data collection terminals are ideal for warehouse and inventory applications like order picking and document tracking. Pen-based units are the device of choice for signature collection, for example most overnight delivery companies use a pen-based unit to allow parcel recipients to sign-off on delivery. Portable data collection devices can use wireless communications to link to a computer by using RF technology. These wireless networks are now cost-effective for as few as two scanners and read bar codes up to 200 feet away from the PC base. Working with the latest in two-dimensional bar codes, users can store and collect a tremendous amount of information in a very small bar code space. Portable data file scanners are available to make use of this new technology.

Once you have selected the appropriate input devices for the various elements in your application, you need data collection software to create a structure for the collection, transfer and storage of your data. Select a software package that allows you to quickly and easily create a customized system. The software should produce custom prompts for portable data collection and create a compatible database management system on you PC. Look for a software product that requires no programming.


Verification of Bar Code Data

As bar code labeling becomes more sophisticated and used on a broader variety of products and packages, it is often necessary to verify that the label on the product/package is correct. This is especially important for companies to be protected from the possibility of penalties from mislabeled goods sold to third parties, for example in the retail industry. Verifying equipment can be grouped in two categories: portable and on-line. Portable verifiers allow random spot checks on the processing and production floor, during shipping and at retail locations. In addition, verifiers are also used for receiving verification of deliveries by Federal Express and UPS, for example. On line verifying equipment provides the same functionality in a fixed location similar to a product warehouse setting. Both types of equipment offer verification software that will allow you to quickly and easily set up the parameters to be checked. Additionally, they provide support data relating to print quality and acceptability of coded label information.

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