Barcode scanning technology has revolutionised every industry, from retail to healthcare and logistics to hospitality. This technology has made it much easier for businesses to track inventory, identify products and assets, capture information, process orders and sales, access customer data, and more.
Today, there are several types of barcode scanning technologies available in the market, with Charge-coupled Devices (CCD) and lasers being the two most popular. Although both are barcode scanners, they use different scanning technologies and have different strengths and weaknesses.
In this article, we will delve into the unique characteristics of CCD and laser barcode scanners, exploring their working mechanisms, scanning capabilities, and applications. By gaining a deeper understanding of these two scanners, you will be equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions when selecting the most suitable barcode scanner for your specific requirements.
So, let’s explore the differences between CCD and laser barcode scanners and uncover which one is the right fit for your needs.
Introduction to CCD Barcode Scanners and Laser Barcode Scanners
CCD Barcode Scanner
CCD barcode scanners, also called linear imagers, are devices that decode barcodes by measuring the ambient light emitted by the barcode. These scanner devices have a series of tiny light sensors arranged linearly, which distinguish between the dark and light elements of the code, and use this information to decode the barcode.
CCD scanners are only able to scan barcodes within a specific range. This range is typically from 0-400 mm. Due to this limited scanning range, CCD scanners are unsuitable for long-distance bar code reading. In fact, most CCD scanner models cannot scan barcodes that are positioned 500 mm away.
Laser Barcode Scanner
Laser barcode scanners are devices that use a laser beam to read barcodes. These scanners work by projecting a laser beam onto the barcode and then measuring the reflection of the light from each element of the code, thereby decoding it.
Laser scanners are highly regarded for their accuracy and precision in interpreting barcodes. These scanners often have a broad scanning range, with a typical maximum reading distance of approximately 10 metres (33 feet), depending on the model.
Check out our article on how barcode scanners work to understand the science behind the deciphering process of a barcode.
Laser Barcode Scanners vs CCD Barcode Scanners - What's the Difference?
Now that we have explored CCD and laser barcode scanners individually let’s delve into a detailed comparison between these two technologies to help you choose the most suitable option for your business.
CCD and laser barcode scanners are different technologies based on different principles to read and decode barcodes.
CCD scanners employ an array of light-sensitive diodes known as photosites. These diodes capture the ambient light emitted by the barcode, which consists of alternating dark and light elements.
As the scanner illuminates the barcode, the photosites convert the reflected light into electrical signals. The signals are then processed to extract the barcode’s encoded information. This type of barcode symbology is then scanned and read by a barcode scanner.
On the other hand, laser barcode scanners utilise laser beams to read barcodes. The scanner emits a laser light that sweeps back and forth across the barcode.
The barcode’s contrasting dark and light elements reflect the laser light differently. A photodiode within the scanner detects these variations in light intensity and converts them into electrical signals. The signals are subsequently interpreted to decode the barcode.
Refer to our article on barcode scan engines to gain more insight into the working mechanism of CCD and laser barcode scanners.
CCD barcode scanner technology excels in close-range scanning and is capable of reading barcodes up to 400 mm away. They are ideal for applications where the barcode must be scanned up close, such as at the point of sale or in document tracking.
In contrast, laser barcode scanners offer a significantly more extensive scanning range, with models having a scanning distance of 10 metres. With their ability to emit laser beams that can reach greater distances, laser scanners are well-suited for applications requiring scanning over more significant distances.
CCD and laser barcode scanners have distinct capabilities when it comes to barcode readability.
CCD scanners work best with high-quality and clear barcodes. These scanners cannot read barcodes with low contrast, poor printing quality, smudges or excessive amounts of dirt or dust. CCD scanners also face difficulties detecting barcodes in adverse conditions such as direct sunlight and bright lights.
In comparison, laser scanners offer superior barcode readability. These scanners use laser beams and hence can read barcodes even in challenging environmental conditions. They can also easily handle barcodes with low-quality printing jobs, smudges, dirt and dust.
Ambient Light Interference
Ambient light interference refers to the presence of external light sources that can disrupt the scanning process and hinder accurate barcode reading. It is a significant factor when comparing CCD and laser barcode scanners.
CCD scanners are susceptible to ambient light interference due to their reliance on capturing the ambient light emitted by the barcode. They have difficulty reading barcodes accurately in high ambient light levels, like intense artificial light or bright sunlight. This is because high ambient light causes interference and decreases the barcode’s contrast, making it difficult for the CCD scanner to read or decode it.
On the other hand, laser barcode scanners are more resilient to ambient light interference. The focused laser beams emitted by these scanners do not get affected by external light sources, thus allowing them to read barcodes in bright lighting conditions accurately.
The scanning speed of CCD and laser barcode readers also differs.
CCD scanners possess a moderate scanning speed and are hence suitable for applications where the items to be scanned don’t move too fast. This is because CCD scanners take some time to capture the ambient light emitted by a barcode and interpret it.
In contrast, laser barcode scanners offer faster scanning speeds because they rapidly sweep the laser beam back and forth across the barcode. This enables quick and efficient data capture, making laser scanners ideal for high-speed and high-volume scanning operations requirements like warehouses or shipping docks.
Shiny and reflective surfaces such as glass and metal can cause difficulties in scanning barcode symbologies. Such surfaces cause unwanted reflection of light and cause interference during the scanning process, which can lead to errors or misreads.
CCD scanners are more susceptible to interference from reflective surfaces. This is because they rely on capturing the reflected light from the barcode. When encountering reflective surfaces, these scanners receive additional or distorted reflections, which confuses the CCD scanner resulting in inaccurate or failed scans.
Laser barcode scanners are generally more resilient to reflective surfaces than CCD scanners. The concentrated laser light emitted by these scanners can often penetrate through certain levels of reflection, allowing for better barcode readability.
However, It’s important to note that laser scanners can also face challenges with highly reflective surfaces, such as polished metals or mirrors. Excessive reflections on these surfaces can interfere with the contrast and clarity of the barcode, making it difficult for the scanner to accurately decode the information.
While laser scanners have features to minimise the impact of excessive reflections, extreme or highly reflective surfaces can still pose difficulties during the scanning process.
Omnidirectional scanning is a barcode scanning technique that allows the scanner to read barcodes from any angle or orientation. It utilises a rotating mirror or multiple scanning lines to capture barcode information in a 360-degree pattern.
CCD scanners do not offer omnidirectional scanning capabilities. This means that for CCD scanners, the barcode must be placed directly in front of the scanner and cannot be read from different angles or orientations.
Laser scanners, on the other hand, are renowned for their superior omnidirectional scanning capabilities. These scanners are equipped with multiple lines or rotating mirrors that emit multiple laser beams simultaneously. This helps capture barcode information from any angle or orientation, making laser scanners ideal for fast-moving and highly mobile applications.
Durability and Reliability
The durability and reliability of both scanning technologies heavily depend on usage and environmental conditions, including factors such as temperature, humidity, and dust. However, CCD scanners are considered more durable compared to laser scanners.
CCD scanners are constructed using solid-state technology, meaning they have no moving parts. This design feature significantly reduces the risk of mechanical failures associated with the scanner.
On the other hand, laser scanners have mirrors that move, which can increase the risk of potential damage. The mirrors in laser scanners can be delicate and more prone to damage if mishandled or dropped.
Cost and Affordability
CCD scanners are generally more affordable compared to laser scanners.
The technology used in CCD scanners is more straightforward and less complex, resulting in lower production costs.
Laser scanners often offer additional features and capabilities, such as laser beams, mirrors, and other components, contributing to their higher price point.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between CCD and Laser Scanners
When choosing between CCD and laser scanners, several factors should be considered to make an informed decision based on specific requirements.
The scanning distance in barcode scanners refers to the maximum range at which the scanner can accurately read barcodes, capturing and decoding the barcode information effectively. The scanning distance varies depending on the type and capabilities of the scanner.
In general, laser scanners have a longer scanning distance than CCD scanners, making them suitable for larger scanning areas or long-range scanning needs.
Scanning speed refers to the rate at which the scanner can capture and decode barcode information. It represents how quickly the scanner can read and process the data from a barcode.
Laser scanners are typically faster than CCD scanners.
Barcode density is the amount of information encoded within a given area of a barcode. It indicates how closely the bars and spaces are packed together in the barcode symbology.
Higher barcode density means more data is encoded within a smaller space, requiring a barcode scanner with higher resolution and precision to read and decode the information accurately.
CCD scanners are better suited for reading barcodes with high-density or small elements, as they provide greater detail and precision.
The reading angle refers to the range of angles at which the scanner can successfully read and decode barcodes. It determines the flexibility of the scanner in capturing barcode information from various orientations.
A wide reading angle allows for more convenience and ease of scanning, as it enables the scanner to read barcodes even when they are presented at different angles or positions.
Laser scanners are more versatile when reading barcodes from different angles or orientations, offering greater flexibility in scanning positions.
Environmental conditions are the factors present in the surrounding environment that can impact the performance and reliability of the scanner. These conditions include factors such as temperature, humidity, dust, moisture, and lighting conditions.
Both types of scanners are available in a rugged configuration and are designed to withstand extreme temperatures, dust, dirt, humidity, and moisture.
The cost of barcode scanners varies depending on factors such as the technology, features, scanning capabilities, brand, and durability of the scanner. Generally, more advanced and specialised barcode scanners with higher performance and durability tend to have a higher cost, while basic or entry-level scanners are more affordable.
In general, CCD scanners are typically more affordable than laser scanners.
Application requirements refer to the specific needs and criteria that a barcode scanner must meet in order to perform in a given application or industry effectively.
The requirements can include factors such as supported barcode symbologies, scanning speed, connectivity options, compatibility with existing systems, durability, and special features needed for specific tasks or environments.
Consider the specific needs of your application, such as barcode type, volume of scanning, scanning range, and required scanning speed, to determine which technology is best suited for your requirements.
Advantages of CCD Scanners Over Laser Scanners
CCD scanners offer several advantages over laser scanners.
- Cost: CCD scanner is generally a handheld scanner and more affordable than a laser scanner, making it a cost-effective option for businesses with budget constraints.
- Robustness: CCD scanners are known for their durability and ability to withstand harsh working conditions. They have no moving parts, making them less prone to mechanical failures, and they can handle small accidental drops and vibrations.
- Image-Based Approach: CCD scanners utilise an image-based approach to capture barcode images enabling them to capture high-resolution images and provide precise decoding of barcodes.
Advantages of Laser Scanners Over CCD Scanners
Laser scanners offer several advantages over CCD scanners.
- Reading Challenging Barcodes: Laser scanners perform well in difficult scanning conditions. They can read barcodes with lower print quality, damaged surfaces, or barcode labels that are partially obscured.
- Faster Scanning Speed: Laser scanners have a faster scanning speed than CCD scanners. It enables quicker and more efficient data capture, making them ideal for high-volume scanning environments where speed is a priority.
- Resistance to Ambient Light Interference: Laser scanners are more resistant to ambient light interference than CCD scanners. They are designed to tolerate and ignore external light sources, ensuring reliable barcode reading even in brightly lit environments.
- Enhanced Productivity Features: Laser scanners come equipped with additional features such as omnidirectional scanning, which allows barcodes to be read from any angle, and advanced image processing capabilities, which can enhance barcode recognition and decoding.
Frequently Asked Questions
In Which Industries Are CCD Scanners Commonly Used, and Why?
Some industries where CCD scanners find widespread application include retail, healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, field services and transportation.
In the retail industry, CCD scanners are used at point-of-sale systems to scan barcodes on products during checkout, ensuring efficient and accurate transactions.
In healthcare, they are essential for scanning medication labels, patient identification bracelets, and medical equipment, improving safety and reducing errors.
In manufacturing and logistics, CCD scanners are vital in product identification, inventory management, tracking, and quality control.
In transportation and logistics companies, they are used for package sorting, tracking, and verifying shipments.
How Does the Resolution Differ Between CCD and Laser Scanners?
The resolution of CCD and laser scanners differ in how they capture and interpret barcode data.
The resolution of a CCD scanner is determined by the number of sensors in the array, with higher sensor density resulting in higher resolution.
The resolution of a laser scanner is primarily determined by the size of the laser beam spot and the precision of the photodiode in interpreting the reflected light.
In general, CCD scanners have higher resolution compared to laser scanners. This is because CCD scanners capture the entire barcode image with their array of sensors, allowing for finer detail and better accuracy in reading the barcode.
Laser scanners, while still capable of capturing accurate barcode data, may have slightly lower resolution due to the nature of their scanning method.
Can CCD Scanners Handle High-Volume Scanning Requirements?
CCD scanners are generally not optimised for high-volume scanning requirements. While they offer reliable performance, the scanning speed may not be suitable for high-volume applications that demand rapid data capture.
In conclusion, both CCD and laser barcode scanners have their advantages and limitations.
CCD scanners are more durable, affordable, and suitable for occasional scanning, while laser scanners are faster, more versatile, and suitable for high-volume scanning operations.
When choosing a barcode scanner for your business, it is essential to consider your specific business’s needs. Always consider factors such as supported barcode symbols, the ability to scan small barcodes, the volume of scanning, scanning range, required scanning speed, budget and work environment to determine which type of scanner is best suited for your requirements.
Regardless of your choice, having a barcode scanner is essential in today’s business environment. At Triton, we understand the importance of this technology, which is why we are committed to providing our customers with the very best barcode scanners from top brands such as Honeywell and Zebra.
Our range of scanners is diverse and extensive, ensuring that there is a barcode scanner to meet the unique needs of any business. Our collection encompasses USB barcode scanners, general barcode scanners, rugged barcode scanners, fixed scanners & sensors, 2D barcode scanners, mobile terminals, wireless barcode scanners and Bluetooth barcode scanners.
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