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Barcode Data Collection: Software and Hardware

Barcode Data Collection: Software and Hardware

When Barcode Data Collection Began

The premise behind barcode data collection is that individual items can be marked in such a way that they can be scanned and identified very quickly, using data understood by computer systems. Barcode scanning technology has come a long way since the first barcoded item (a pack of chewing gum) was scanned in Ohio in 1974.

A simple idea has spawned a complex and omnipresent technology. Some modern barcode systems encapsulate relatively huge amounts of data in very small spaces, and as well as simple six-digit numbers barcodes can contain anything from complex chemical formulae to the personal information held in ID cards. For this reason barcode data collection is now ubiquitous in the retail trade and invaluable in medical environments, the shipping and freight industries, and in large organisations which need to keep track of documents. But whether you want to simplify the inventory of your corner shop, monitor the flow of documentation in a hospital or track sea containers around the globe, the five main advantages of utilizing barcode data collection hardware and software remain the same.

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Advantages of Barcode Data Collection Technology

The first is improved operational efficiency: barcodes allow for more accurate and faster information collection, so workflow can be accelerated without increasing mistakes.

The next great advantage is time saving. One of the earliest clear benefits was the massive reduction in the time needed to take complete inventories of stock in supermarkets. A biannual stock check that may have taken 25 employees a weekend in the past might typically take four employees an afternoon with the use of barcode data collection.

The technology incorporated into barcodes also greatly reduces the chances of time and money losses due to clerical errors. A common figure for errors in human data entry is one error per 300 keystrokes, whereas with barcodes the error rate can be as low as one per 36 trillion characters with some systems. And it's not just money that can be saved - blood banks and the pharmaceutical industries use barcodes in life-critical environments.

All of the benefits of utilizing barcode data collection software and hardware contribute to cost-cutting in any industry, especially when seen against the relatively low cost of introducing and maintaining the technology.

The fifth benefit of barcoding is a feeling of 'being included'. Many regulatory agencies in retail and commerce impose standards on labelling and the kind of information that must be included in certain barcode data collection systems. Far from being a hindrance to trade and efficiency, these standards can streamline many operations by allowing those involved to be sure that they are providing all the necessary data to customers.

It is hard to see how our global market economy could function without barcoding, and the longevity of a technology now more than 30 years old is testament to its robust position in information management.