Friday, 28 February 2020

Advantages of 2D Barcodes over simple 1D Barcodes

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQFl7ZCDoNf0PQ/article-cover_image-shrink_720_1280/0?e=1588204800&v=beta&t=1PdjPwb68KU-m8MnL65PzebFHeDXrzKhrWOz8LR6Jfs



Until relatively recently, barcode scanning was limited to laser barcode scanners and one-dimensional (1D) barcodes. However, the advent of imaging scanners and two-dimensional (2D) barcodes has unlocked a number of important new improvements and capabilities. Understanding these advancements reveals why 2D barcodes and barcode imagers are now the ideal choice for virtually any scanning application.

2D vs. 1D Barcodes: How Do They Differ?

Data Storage and Capacity

  • A 1D barcode uses variable-width lines and spaces to encode data. This linear approach limits data storage to only a few dozen characters, and it means the barcode gets longer as you add more data to it.
  • A 2D barcode uses patterns of squares, hexagons, dots, and other shapes to encode data. This means data can be encoded vertically and horizontally, which means 2D barcodes can hold more data in a much smaller space.
  • A 2D barcode can hold hundreds of characters compared to a few dozen with a 1D barcode.
  • In addition, thanks to its added capacity, a 2D barcode can store images, website URLs, voice data, and other binary data types. In contrast, a 1D barcode is limited to alphanumeric information only.

Ease of Scanning

  • As an added benefit, the vertical and horizontal orientation of a 2D barcode means you can scan it at virtually any angle. This is far more efficient for scanning operations compared to a 1D barcode, which requires that a scanner’s laser be properly aligned with the barcode.
  • Anyone who has ever used a self-checkout lane at a supermarket can probably appreciate the frustration of not being able to scan items quickly and easily due to this alignment requirement.

Database Dependence vs. Independence

  • 1D barcodes are database-dependent. You need to scan each barcode and relate it to data in a database, such as GS1 barcodes to look up the product associated with it.
  • Since a 2D barcode can hold much more data, including information of varying types, you don’t need to access a database to make use of the encoded information. You can store, scan, and retrieve all the data you need from the code itself.

2D vs. 1D Barcodes: How Do They Differ?

Since the large-scale introduction of barcoding technology in the 1970s, laser scanners have been the industry standard due to their reliable performance and low cost. However, they can normally only scan 1D barcodes, and they require a laser to be horizontally aimed across the black-and-white bars of a barcode, using reflected light to read its pattern. If the aim is off, if there’s poor contrast, or if the barcode is poorly printed or damaged, you won’t get a positive read.

To address these issues, imagers (which are actually very simple cameras) have been introduced and are now widely used for their added capabilities and extremely flexible and reliable scanning of both 1D and 2D barcodes. Rather than relying on laser light and reflectivity, an imager takes a picture of a barcode. This means it can capture a barcode at any angle, in any direction, on any surface. It can even capture barcodes printed on a label, shown on a screen, or positioned upside down or sideways.
In addition, imagers have advanced scanning capabilities that capture barcodes even if they’re smudged, scratched, damaged, or poorly printed. The end result is first-time, every-time data capture that dramatically speeds up scanning processes and improves efficiency.

If you need to print 2D barcodes such as QR - Datamatrix - PDF417, etc or read them in any environment, call the team at Barcode-IT who have the knowledge and skills to help to plan and implement your 2D barcode project.

Written by Jonathan Pressley:
Data Capture and Barcode Specialist at Dash Computer Products & Barcode-IT
jpressley@barcode-it.co.uk 01200 441977



Monday, 3 February 2020

Barcode Label Printers. Its always the little things...

Our top selling mid range thermal printer, the Sato 4NX has just had an update.  Not that you would know to look at it, as all the enhancements are either invisible or too subtle to be obvious to the casual observer.  

But with label printers, as with many other technology devices, its the little things that make all the difference to the person who actually uses the printer. Higher print speed, faster processor or larger label roll size, don't mean much to the worker.  But a wide opening print head or a mechanism that does not cause "ribbon wrinkle" are the little things that make the user love their label printers.

Fortunately the new Sato CL4NX plus, has all the big features and all the little features too, so the business gets the benefits of the higher speed and amazing print quality and the worker gets the the clever design that makes his day to day operation of the printer frustration free.

Plus they both enjoy the amazing build quality and attention to detail that makes the Sato CL 4NX the best printer we have ever sold!

 


Call today and start reaping the benefits of replacing your tired old label printers with the new Sato 4NX Plus.

Sato CL 4NX - click image for PDF

Is Your Wireless Infrastructure Hurting Your Warehouse Operations?

Many Mobile devices are also designed to "WiFi roam" within the  warehouse, which means that moving between WiFi Access Points ( APs)   should not cause the signal to be dropped, but continue to work  seamlessly and continuing to send and receive information to the ERP or  WMS.  This depends on using "industrial WiFi" where the APs work behind  the scenes to manage the data so that the user is never disconnected.  True industrial mobile devices from companies such as Zebra and  Datalogic,also contain dual antennas, so that data is transmitted on one  antenna while the other is negotiating with the local APs to select the  best performance and range.



Many Mobile devices are also designed to "WiFi roam" within the  warehouse, which means that moving between WiFi Access Points ( APs)   should not cause the signal to be dropped, but continue to work  seamlessly and continuing to send and receive information to the ERP or  WMS.  This depends on using "industrial WiFi" where the APs work behind  the scenes to manage the data so that the user is never disconnected.  True industrial mobile devices from companies such as Zebra and  Datalogic,also contain dual antennas, so that data is transmitted on one  antenna while the other is negotiating with the local APs to select the  best performance and range.

If you are implementing a new WLAN, the process should start with a full  wireless site survey. The design of your WiFi network will depend on  the vendor or systems integrator knowing how the warehouse is laid out,  what potential sources of interference exist, and what types of stock  will be stored there. For highly dynamic warehouses, all potential  stocking and staffing scenarios should be considered in advance to  ensure the network can perform under all circumstances.
If you are implementing a new WLAN, the process should start with a  thorough wireless site survey. The RF design of your network will depend  on the vendor or systems integrator knowing how the warehouse is laid  out, what potential sources of interference exist, and what types of  stock will be stored there. For highly dynamic warehouses, all potential  stocking and staffing scenarios should be considered in advance to  ensure the network can perform under all circumstances.

Once the network is up and running, it should be regularly audited and  tuned. This requires additional site surveys, which can uncover new  sources of interference or additional coverage problems.


Typically, these issues may include dead zones with no coverage,  competition for bandwidth, or sluggish throughput. Depending on the  nature of the problem, you may need to increase your access point  density or increase AP power. That’s because many smaller handheld  devices don’t have enough power to effectively communicate with the  access points. The wireless infrastructure should be configured to serve  the lowest-powered mobile devices that will be used in the facility.

The network should also be designed with redundancy in mind, so that if  there is a problem with a single AP, mobile devices can quickly roam to a  neighboring AP and minimize downtime. If the wireless infrastructure  will carry voice in addition to data traffic, the network should be  configured to prioritize the more latency-sensitive voice traffic.

If your warehouse WiFi is letting your Warehouse Operation down, call for a free consultation on 01200 441977 or email sales@dashcomputer.co.uk

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

An Android cautionary tale for Industrial mobile devices.

At Barcode-IT we have embraced and love Android powered industrial and warehouse mobile computers. We have learned how best to use them and how to configure them for best customer performance.

However recently we have come across an issue that we did not anticipate and which caused our customer serious problems.

We work with this customer to choose and configure some Zebra Mobile computers, which were running an SAP S/4 Hana mobile client.  The customer was very happy and everything worked well. 

Unfortunately as is the case sometimes, for the 2nd round of supply, the customer purchasing dept. opted to buy additional devices from another supplier, who specialists in internet sales and does not offer any advice or end user assistance, (you know who I mean!).  But hey what could go wrong? They had the exact model part number that we had supplied previously and so chose the cheaper supplier.  They had our config for the mobile devices and loaded the SAP client, but immediately ran into problems, the SAP client did not work as expected, the screen did not look the same and some barcodes had missing characters at the end, or did not automatically move to the next field.

The customer complained to the SAP supplier, who quite rightly said that the same client was running on all the devices.  Eventually after trying and failing to get assistance from the internet supplier, with tail firmly between legs, they turned back to Barcode-IT to ask why our devices worked but the same device from the other supplier did not.

After agreeing a fee to examine this problem (which was probably more that the saving made buying from the big internet supplier ) our technicians found the problem.  The Android version was a higher revision on the new devices!  Same part number, identical config, but some subtle difference in the underlying OS was changing the way that the SAP client interacted with the mobile device.

It was not the SAP software suppliers fault, his SAP client could be made to work on either device, but with slightly different configs, for how the screen was displayed and how the barcode scanner sent data to the software. We gave the customer two options, run the devices with two different configs ( a potential nightmare for the future ) or downgrade the new device to the original version of Android, which is fortunately possible, thanks to Zebra's Enterprise grade products.

Remember, Android is a mobile phone operating system underneath and is updated much more often than an Enterprise industrial mobile device.

Two big points to take from this tale.
  1. Use a supplier who understands your system and is certified by the manufacturer to manage and configure your industrial mobile devices. Not a box shifted!
  2. Just because its a later version of Android does not mean its better for your business.  There may be no advantage at all. Sometimes it's "better the devil you know!"
At Barcode-IT we stage all the devices before delivery, ensure the Android is the same version as that tested in the field and config the devices to be ready to work immediately.  Something that all good suppliers should do.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Create Barcode Labels Fast! Do's and Don'ts

Barcode Label Printing - Retail - Industrial and Warehouse
Tips and Best Practice

Barcode label printing can seem a very complex process, with labelling standards, barcode size and quality to worry about, and on top of that the label printer, label material and barcode print quality.

While this whole process may seem daunting, actually a few simple rules govern the use and printing of barcode labels and a professional specialist business should be able to guide you to the right solution.
Complex barcode label
So the real advise is, Use a Professional Supplier to buy the whole solution.  Avoid buying the separate items, Software, Printers, Labels, Ribbons for different suppliers.

The reason for this thinking is that without understanding the whole process of what you need barcode labels for, what your business is and what the labels are used for, it's impossible to specify the right combination of products.

 Do's and Don'ts -  Barcode label printing

  • Do speak to the supplier about the whole project, explaining what the barcodes are for, how the labels will be used and what industry your business serves.  There may be strict rules about the use of some barcode labels. Some customers will fine you if you get it wrong!
  • Do find out how many labels per day you will print, as this will affect what model of label printer you should buy. Large volumes of labels need industrial, faster, bigger printers.
  • Do use your ERP to print labels directly, if the ERP supports barcode label printing, many such as SAP, Microsoft Dynamics and Sage will print barcode labels directly.
  • Do make it easy for workers to print labels by using "smart" labelling software that does all the work for them.
  • Do buy a support contract for the software and the label printers. Production stops when you can't print labels.

  • Don't make assumptions about the labels, experts will explain about short life DT (direct thermal) labels and long life TT (thermal transfer) labels and when to use each.
  • Don't make a different label design for each of your products, use software that will connect to a database and pull variable data directly from your ERP or data system.
  • Don't buy the cheapest Barcode Label Software and expect it to print complex labels with variable elements, such as GS1 128 - EAN 13 - SSCC - any 2D barcodes or for pharma or medical applications.
  • Don't buy your labelling software from the cheapest supplier, you will almost certainly need help and training to get the best out of your system

So if you are ready to implement a sophisticated barcode label printing solution, just pickup the phone and call the professionals at Barcode-IT on 01200 441977, or send us an email to sales@barcode-it.co.uk. 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

MobileNav and Zebra TC 8000 perfect partners for Warehouse operations in Navision and Dynamics 365

MobileNav and Zebra TC 8000 perfect partners for Navision Warehouse operations.

MobileNav is the perfect tool to allow your workers and users to have the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Microsoft Dynamics 365 on the move.  In the warehouse, in manufacturing or anywhere in your business, MobileNav lets you do business transactions on the move.

Most Navision users find that the Warehouse is one of the most important areas of the business to benefit from MobileNav which fully supports warehousing workflow, allowing your warehouse employees to perform their tasks on mobile devices quickly and effectively, making paper-based working obsolete. Thanks to the state-of-the-art barcode reading registration, errors totally disappear. The Inventory menu of the application allows you to track the items in your warehouse. You can access your up-to-date stock information (Bin Content, Serial No., Lot No., Expiration Date, etc.).

And to complement MobileNav the recommended mobile device is the TC8000/ TC8300  from Zebra technologies.

Up to 33% lighter than traditional models to reduce muscle fatigue among workers

Designed to face the user while scanning, the larger screen eliminates the need to tilt and verify each scan, increasing efficiency on every scan.

VIRTUAL KEYBOARD
The all-touch keyboard allows users to type up to
40% faster with
60% fewer errors
compared to traditional push-button keyboards.

The TC 800 is a very special warehouse mobile device. It’s the ground-breaking all new warehouse mobile computer designed to deliver revolutionary productivity increases in the warehouse. In fact, on average, it saves 14%* per worker versus traditional form factors – it’s like gaining an extra hour of productivity, per worker, per day.

And it’s the only device on the market that simplifies it all — how your workers physically use the device and interact with your warehouse application.

For a live demo of MobileNav on the TC 8000 or a discussion on your mobile device options, call the Barcode-IT Sales Team on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Hands On - Barcode Scanning with ProGlove

Hands Free Barcode Scanning

As the scanning of barcodes, both 1D and 2D, is becoming present in every aspect of the manufacturing, warehouse and logistics processes, so the barcode scanner has evolved to make it easier for the worker to carry out both the industrial or logistics task and capture the task's data by scanning barcodes. Scanners have changed from corded to wireless to allow operator freedom, but the simple human effort to deal with a hand held device in the form of a barcode scanner, while doing the job, causes some problems that until now have not been addressed.

Until now barcode scanners have needed to be carried around and held in a particular way to allow barcodes to be scanned. This disables the worker from any sort of product handling that needs two hands and and makes it awkward to carry out high speed tasks.

Wearable barcode scanners have been around for some years, but early models are heavy and clumsy to use.

Now there is a new barcode scanner from ProGlove, which has been specifically designed to solve all of these issues. Worn as a full or half glove (made to a proper industrial spec) the ProGlove is super light and easy for the operator to use and the battery lasts 15 hours - (about 6000 scans) 



Major businesses are already using ProGlove, in fact almost every European car manufacturer uses ProGlove including BMW and VW Group. Also used in retail, warehouse and logistics. See a Video success story from Volkswagen here

For an on-site demonstration or a chat to discuss a project, please call Jonathan Pressley on 01200 441977. https://www.barcode-it.co.uk/wearable-mobile-computers.htm

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

SAP S/4HANA - Printing complex barcode labels

A number of requests from customers with SAP S/4HANA, about barcode label printing has required us to think about the needs of our SAP customers printing complex barcode labels.  Here are some thoughts and solutions.

SAP is a very large ERP supplier and serves a number of industry segments and in this case the request is to print barcode labels directly from within an SAP standard transaction.

Normally this would be handled by the SAP spooler system and printed to a pre-designated label printer on the network.  But in an increasing number of cases, the complex and changing nature of the labelling requirement means that the normal methods of creating barcode labels "inside SAP" become unworkable, too expensive or have excessive SAP development time.

One very powerful solution is NiceLabel LMS Enterprise, that has a built in SAP application that captures the variable data needed from SAP to print labels and converts it into a format that allows LMS to merge this data into a label template and instantly print it to a local or remote barcode label printer.

NiceLabel LMS Enterprise is a Certified SAP Solution

This approach frees the business from having to have specialist ABAP programmers constantly having to understand and encode new or changed barcode labels, which can take days and lots of trial and error to accomplish an acceptable label to GS1 or similar standards.

The beauty of the NiceLabel system is that up until the point of printing, the SAP transaction is identical, then the NiceLabel ABAP script captures the standard transaction data and converts it into a XML stream.  This XML stream is then used as a variable data source for a user designed label template and converted "on-the-fly" into text and barcode fields on the label.  Non variable data, such as logos, fixed text, lines, boxes etc, are all stored in the NiceLabel template, so require no SAP input.

The label template design and the link to the SAP data is all user level work, once the ABAP package is installed, the designer is free to assign any SAP field to a text or barcode element, or combine multiple fields into a single element, in a simple to use Windows label design package.

Even very complex labels and barcodes can be created by the designer, with no programming skills whatsoever.  An example would be a 2D barcode to the GS1 Datamatrix standard, which can contain multiple fields ( GTIN + Serial + Batch + Expiry + Qty) merged into a single 2D barcode.  Easy in NiceLabel.
Another time saving feature is that "every" variable field within an SAP transaction is passed into the XML stream and these can be added to a label design template as variable fields. Not every field needs to be included, but if later a new element is required on the label, editing the template will allow the designer to add any unused field to the labels, without making any changes to the SAP transaction or ABAP script.

The design of the labels and templates is very easy and anyone used to Microsoft Office can be quickly trained in its use. NiceLabel supports every barcode type and contains wizards to guide designers through the process of creating industry standard such as GS1, EAN 128 and many more, including complex barcodes such as SSCC Pallet labels.


Another advantage of using the NiceLabel SAP solution, is that it is not limited to using a dedicated label printer language, such as Zebra ZPL ( a common SAP printer driver ).  Using Windows drivers, specially developed by NiceLabel and freely available for ALL makes and models of label printers, means that changing the make of printer does not require a change in software or any developer time, just a change in printer driver.  The NiceLabel printers drivers are free and are often better than manufacturers own windows drivers, in fact many manufacturers buy their drivers from NiceLabel, which is a very good recommendation.

For an in depth look at how your business can benefit from using NiceLabel LMS for SAP, call our SAP specialist team at Barcode-IT.  sales@barcode-it.co.uk   01200 441977.

You will get some straight answers and a real understanding of the Pros and Cons of the different methods of printing barcode labels from within SAP.



Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Printing Barcode Labels from SAP Business One

A number of customers have been in touch regarding the printing of barcode labels from SAP Business One ( SAP B1).  It seems that there is some confusion about this product and many customer are mixing up SAP S4/HANA ( a massive ERP system used by very large businesses) with SAP B1, designed for SME ( Small & Medium Enterprises)

Its good news however, as NiceLabel 2019 fully supports SAP B1 with PowerForms Suite and is available in licenses for 3-5-10 printers and addon packs of 5 printers.

So any product or shipping labels can be printed with data directly from your SAP B1 system and can be used by an operator using a Print Form created using NiceLabel or printed automatically upon an event in SAP B1 using NiceLabel Automation ( a component of PowerForms Suite )

To discuss your SAP B1 barcode label printing application or ask about Automatic label printing from within SAP B1, call one of our team for a costing and a demo of the solution, on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk

We also specialise in barcode labels printers and will recommend the perfect label printer for your SAP B1 application.
Sato NX Barcode Label Printers

2D or not 2D (barcodes or course!)

2D barcodes, such as QR and Datamatrix, have been around now for a long time and with fast reading and the ability to withstand transit damage, they are the perfect way to carry quite large amounts of data.

But if that's the case, why have they not been more widely used until recently?  The simple answer is the technology to read them has until been too expensive.  Simple barcodes can be read with a scanning laser or simple LED, which while rare and expensive when invented are now so commonplace that they are in many household devices and so have become very cheap.
QR Code - 2D barcode
However 2D barcodes need a different approach , where the whole barcode image is captured in one go, either by a camera, like when you use an iPhone, or using a simple camera like device called an Imager.

This has now caused an explosion in interest in  2D barcodes with many barcode scanners reading both 1D and 2D barcodes as standard. In fact 2D codes are now becoming so easy to read that many websites are advertised with a large QR code that can be read with any mobile phone.

But for commercial applications in the real world of products and logistics, it has been the adoption of Worldwide standards that has leveraged the power of 2D barcodes, using the ability to encode large amounts of data, that can be easily captured.

One example of this is the recent use of DataMatrix 2D codes to record individual serial numbers on prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals. From 2019 all drugs must have a serial number that uniquely identifies the specific box being dispensed. This is so that counterfeit drugs and black market pharmaceuticals can be identified and kept out of the drugs market. Only made possible by the use of 2D barcodes, in this case DataMatrix.
Other important applications include the routing of parcels and tracking data in the warehouse.

For further information on 2D barcodes and how they might impact your business, call the sales team at Barcode-IT on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk.