What is Barcode Verification? A Complete Overview

Barcode verification

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Barcodes are essential to modern commerce and logistics, ensuring products are accurately tracked and managed. However, the effectiveness of barcodes depends on their readability and accuracy. 

So, how is this barcode effectiveness maintained and checked? The answer lies in barcode verification.  

In this article, we’ll explore what barcode verification is, why it is important, the process involved, and how it differs from barcode validation. 

What is Barcode Verification?

Meaning of barcode verification

Barcode verification is the process of confirming the print quality of 1D, 2D, and direct part mark (DPM) codes using predefined quality parameters and ensuring that the data content within the barcode meets specific application standards. 

This process provides feedback about barcode quality, helping companies improve and control their barcode production. Positive verification results indicate that labels, printers, or direct part marking equipment function correctly, ensuring barcodes are readable anywhere using any barcode scanner.

The quality parameters for barcode verification are established by international organisations such as ANSI and ISO and industry groups like GS1 and HIBCC, ensuring global standardisation. Three major verification standards govern the quality of different types of barcodes:

Barcode verification standards provide grades for barcode quality, typically expressed as letters A (highest quality), B, C, D, and F (lowest quality), or a numerical equivalent ranging from 4.0 (highest quality) to 0.0 (lowest quality).

Why is Barcode Verification Important?

Four key reasons why barcode verification is important

Here are some key reasons why barcode verification is important. 

Ensures Accuracy and Reduces Errors

Barcode verification guarantees that barcodes are printed correctly and can be accurately scanned. This accuracy is vital for maintaining data integrity throughout the supply chain and preventing errors in barcode inventory management, shipping, and receiving. 

Compliance with Standards

Many industries, such as food and beverage and pharmaceuticals, have strict standards and regulations regarding barcode quality. Barcode verification ensures compliance with these ISO specifications, helping companies avoid penalties and maintain good standing with regulatory bodies. 

Enhances Efficiency

Verified barcodes can be scanned quickly and accurately, streamlining operations and enhancing overall efficiency. This is particularly important in high-volume environments where speed and accuracy are critical. 

Reliable barcodes contribute to a smoother workflow, reducing the likelihood of errors and delays.

Cost Savings

Detecting and correcting barcode issues early can save significant costs associated with reprinting labels, reshipping products, and handling returns.

What is the Barcode Verification Process?

Five step barcode verification process

The barcode verification process involves several steps to ensure that barcodes meet quality standards and can be accurately read by barcode readers. Here’s a detailed look at the steps involved. 

Step 1: Scanning the Barcode

The first step in barcode verification is scanning the barcode using a barcode verifier. This device captures an image of the barcode and analyses its physical properties and data content. 

Note – Please ensure your chosen barcode verifier device is fully ISO compliant in accordance with ISO 15426-1 and ISO 15426-2 standards. 

Step 2: Analysing the Barcode

The barcode verifier evaluates the barcode against predefined quality parameters established by standards such as ISO/IEC. This analysis includes checking aspects like contrast, reflectance, and edge determination to ensure the barcode meets the required specifications.

Step 3: Grading the Barcode

Based on the analysis, the barcode is graded on a scale of A to F or numerical values 4.0 to 0.0. A higher grade indicates better quality, with grades A and B being the most desirable. A barcode with a grade of C or better is generally considered acceptable and scannable.

For your understanding, here is the table of letter grading equivalent to numbers. 

Equivalent Numerical Value
4.0 – 3.5
3.4 – 2.5
2.4 – 1.5
1.4 – 0.5
0.4 – 0.00

Step 4: Reporting the Results

The verifier generates a detailed report of the barcode’s quality, including its grade and any specific issues detected during the analysis. This verification report helps operators understand the quality of their barcodes and identify any necessary improvements.

Step 5: Taking Corrective Actions

If the barcode does not meet the required standards, corrective actions are taken. This might involve adjusting the printing process, changing the type of barcode used, or addressing any issues with the printing equipment. The barcode is then re-verified to ensure it meets the quality standards.

Barcode Verification Parameters

Barcode verification involves assessing various parameters to ensure the barcode meets quality standards and can be accurately scanned. 

It’s important to note that not all parameters are used in every standard; the specific parameters evaluated depend on the chosen ISO standard. 

Here are the key parameters typically assessed during the barcode verification process. 

  • Symbol Contrast: Measures the difference in reflectance between the bars and spaces in the barcode.
  • Minimum Reflectance: Assesses the amount of light reflected by the darkest bar and the lightest background from the barcode’s surface.
  • Edge Determination & Contrast: Evaluates the sharpness and clarity of the transitions between the bars and spaces.
  • Modulation: Measures the uniformity of reflectance across the entire barcode.
  • Defects: Identifies any irregularities or imperfections in the barcode’s print quality, such as spots, voids, or smudges.
  • Decodability: Assesses the accuracy with which a scanner can interpret the barcode’s encoded data.
  • Fixed Pattern Damage: Evaluates any permanent damage to the barcode’s fixed patterns.
  • Axial Non-Uniformity: Measures the variation in the bar width along the barcode’s length from the ideal grid alignment.
  • Grid Non-Uniformity: Assesses the alignment of bars and spaces and measures the deviation from the grid pattern within the barcode.
  • Unused Error Correction: Measures the amount of error correction capability remaining after printing the barcode.

Barcode Verification vs. Barcode Validation - What's the Difference?

Barcode verification and barcode validation may sound similar, but they serve distinct purposes in ensuring the quality and functionality of barcodes. Here is a table to help you understand the differences between barcode verification and barcode validation. 

Barcode Verification
Barcode Validation
Ensures the quality of printed barcodes and their readability.
Ensures the data encoded in the barcode is correct and accurately represents the intended information.
Quality of the barcode’s print, including parameters like contrast and defects.
Accuracy of the data content within the barcode.
Parameters Assessed
Symbol contrast, minimum reflectance, edge determination, modulation, defects, decodability, fixed pattern damage, axial non-uniformity, grid non-uniformity, unused error correction.
Data structure, format, and integrity.
Involves scanning the barcode with a verifier, analysing its physical properties, grading its quality, and providing a detailed report. If the barcode fails, corrective actions are taken.
Involves checking the data encoded in the barcode against application standards and verifying that it matches the intended data.
Provides a quality grade and a report on the barcode’s print quality.
Confirms that the barcode contains the correct data and is formatted properly.
Based on international standards like ISO/IEC, and ANSI.
No set standards to follow; focuses on application-specific requirements.
Equipment Required
Requires dedicated barcode verifiers.
Can be done with any type of barcode scanner

The Bottom Line

Barcode verification ensures barcodes meet quality standards and are readable by scanners, which is crucial for maintaining accuracy and efficiency in various industries. It minimises errors, ensures compliance with industry standards, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Implementing robust barcode verification processes minimises errors, saves costs, and enhances customer satisfaction, making it an essential practice for businesses relying on barcodes. 

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Barcode Verifiers?

Barcode verifiers are devices used to test and grade the quality of printed barcodes to ensure they meet specific verification standards. They are of two types, 1D barcode verifiers and 2D barcode verifiers.

Barcode verifiers can evaluate barcodes created by various printing methods, including Direct Thermal, Thermal Transfer, Inkjet, Laser, Flexographic, and Direct Part Mark (DPM) – whether etched or dot-peened.

What Is the Difference Between a Barcode Scanner and a Barcode Verifier?

A barcode scanner reads barcodes to retrieve encoded data, while a barcode verifier evaluates the quality of barcodes to ensure they meet predefined standards.

What Is the Standard for Barcode Verification?

The standards for barcode verification are ISO 15416 to verify linear barcodes, ISO 15415 to verify 2D barcode symbology specifications, and ISO/IEC TR 29158 for direct part mark (DPM) barcodes.

Why Is Barcode Verification Necessary?

Barcode verification is necessary to ensure barcodes are readable, accurate, and compliant with industry standards, which minimises errors and improves operational efficiency.

How Often Should Barcode Verification Be Performed?

Barcode verification should be performed when printing new batches of barcodes or making changes to printing equipment, to ensure consistent quality.

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