BARCODING & DATA CAPTURE BASICS

A barcode is a machine readable representation of information.  Originally barcodes stored data in widths and spacings of printed parallel lines (1D Barcodes), but today they also come in patterns of dots, concentric circles, and text codes hidden with images (2D Barcodes).  Barcodes are widely used to implement automatic identification data capture systems that improve the speed and accuracy of computer data entry.  2D coding is the future of identification processes, containing more information than a 1D barcode of the same size.  Applied either on the label of a product, or permanently on the item, the 2D barcode is readable in any direction. Even if there are mechanical damages to the barcode, it is read faster and with less error than a traditional barcode.

Barcode systems feature as part of our everyday lives – on your mobile phone, plane boarding passes, parcels delivered to your door and patient wristbands.

They are widely used to implement Auto ID Data Capture systems that improve the speed and accuracy of computer data entry.  Auto ID technology and barcode systems provide an array of benefits including operational efficiency, better customer service and improved visibility and accuracy of key business information to management.  Fairfield provides a vast selection of data collection systems, including 1D and 2D barcodes, each specifically designed to service your individual business needs.

Barcode systems and scanning technology are constantly evolving, providing industries with more choices in data capture solutions. Deciding which one is right for your business can be a difficult task. Allow Fairfield to explain auto identification data capture along with the differences between 1D and 2D barcoding, and the advantages and applications for which these technologies are used.

1D vs 2D Bar Codes

1D barcode uses a wide base and narrow bars to encode information.  A barcode scanner analyses the wide bars, narrow bars and spaces in between to extract the information.   1D barcodes are not space efficient; they get longer as more data is encoded.  As a result 2D barcodes were invented in the late ‘80’s as a way to encode more data into a smaller space.  While 1D barcodes encode data in one dimension (horizontally), 2D barcodes encode data in 2 dimensions (horizontally and vertically), enabling them to compress more information into a smaller space.  Hence, 1D barcodes are known as “linear” and 2D barcodes are also called “area barcodes”.

2D coding is the future of identification processes, containing more information than a 1D barcode of the same size.  Applied either on the label of a product, or permanently on the item, the 2D barcode is readable in any direction.  Even if there are mechanical damages to the barcode, it is read faster and with less error than a traditional barcode.

 

2D system benefits include:

  • Track and trace products and components throughout the production and supply chain process
  • Identify quality defects throughout the manufacturing process
  • Minimise risk of error
  • Lower management costs by increasing speed and efficiency to streamline production

There are two main categories of 2D symbologies (language of coding): stacked and matrix.

Primary differences between stacked and matrix symbols are how they are encoded and how they are read.  Stacked barcodes are made up of two or more rows of linear bars and spaces, appearing to have been “stacked” on top of each other.  Leading stacked barcodes include PDF417, Code 16K and a form of GS1 Data bar.

Laser scanners, linear imagers and area imagers are all capable of reading stacked symbologies.

Matrix 2D codes encode data in dark and light geometric patterns arranged in a grid.  The position of each element relative to the centre of the symbol is a key variable for encoding.  Matrix codes are commonly used for small item marketing and unattended high speed reading applications.  Common examples include Dot Matrix, MaxiCode, Code One and QR code.

Matrix symbologies are decoded by processing the complete image.  Area imagers (digital) are the only barcoding scanning technology able to read 2D coding.  Digital readers can read 1D and 2D codes.

2D Item Identification Pharmaceutical & Healthcare

Widespread 2D item identification is prolifent in Healthcare where medication is dispensed, being marked with a 1D barcode.  2D symbols are used on patient wrist bands, as 1D has proven to be problematic due to the curvature of wristband.  2D coded information enables the dispenser to scan the patient’s personal information tallying it up with the exact drugs and quantities that they are to be prescribed, reducing the opportunity for error in dispensing incorrect drugs, quantities to the wrong patient.  Not only in health care but also within manufacturing industries – 2D matrix are symbols of choice for industrial marking and tracking applications.

Choosing between 1D & 2D data coding technology

There are many factors to consider when choosing between 1D and 2D technology solutions, such as the amount of data to be encoded, type of printing equipment available and the scanning technology which will be available and used.  Fairfield provides a step by step evaluation of your business requirement through to identification of the most unbiased and appropriate auto identification solution suitable to meet your business requirements.

Linear barcodes are ideal if space is not an issue and the message is short, as linear symbologies are common and cheap to print plus linear barcode readers are less expensive.  2D barcodes are best if space is limited, lots of data needs to be encoded and the code consists of complex characters or language, i.e. Chinese language.  Although 2D barcodes are more expensive to deploy than 1D barcodes, they are still cheaper than RFID technology.  From a cost perspective, it makes sense to combine 2D barcodes with 1D and or RFID technologies.

 

Auto Identification 1D & 2D Bar Coding Comparison

Characteristics

1D Bar Coding

2D Bar Coding

Features

Linear, consisting of vertical lines and spaces

Block of multiple 1D codes stuck on top of each other or a swarm of dots

Dimensions

1 Dimensional, horizontal

2 Dimensional, horizontal and vertical

Name

Linear barcodes

Area barcodes

Capacity

30 characters

At least 2000 characters

Size

Only able to expand horizontally

Capacity to increase size both horizontally and vertically

Printing & Reading Technology

Laser and variety of scanning technologies

Requires advanced printing and reading equipment. Image based scanners like a camera, which effectively takes a picture of the code requiring decoding. Examples being: Charge Coupled Device (CCD), Area image laser readers or digital readers.

Scanning Process

Only capable to read scanning from left to right

Capable of scanning from any angle or 60 degrees skewed with a CCD camera. Can be read from back or reverse side of glass. 2D barcodes can be read in any direction.

Error Detection

None

Contain Error Detection And Correction (EDAC), which detects and corrects any fault should the code be damaged.

Damaged Codes

If damaged, scanner will still give a false and inaccurate read, which will remain undetected by the user

Ability to read even if the code is damaged (<25%). If error is > 25% then the scanner fails to give a result, alerting user to the fault.

Direct Part Marking

Not recommended on shiny or metal surfaces due to the reflective nature of the laser beam when reading

Recommended for DPM on shiny or metal surfaces using a CCD camera

Applications

Postal – Mail sortation, Retail, Pharmaceutical drug information, stock management, line stock control JIT Practices

Manufacturing – supply chain parts tracking, Postal – tracking certified parcels and post, Transportation – automated tracking consignment notes, Government agencies – ID cards and registration documents, Healthcare – Patient ID wristbands and drug dispensing, Pharmaceutical – laboratory samples

 

PRINT & APPLY

Print and Apply is the process where labels are printed, usually on demand, and then applied directly onto a product or its packaging within an automated production process. Labels can be plain or pre-printed, and then a batch/lot number applied to the labels prior to its application in order to identify the products manufacture date and related production information. Barcodes and addresses are also commonly applied to labels used in print and apply. This identifies the product and will allow it to be traced from its origin to destination.

A correctly specified print and apply system can pay back your business investment within months. A company like Fairfield will support you throughout the decision making process, helping you to choose between a standard or fully customised configuration, depending upon the business needs.

RFID TRACK AND TRACE SEMINAR FOR AUTOMOTIVE & AEROSPACE

Picture-005

The coding and RFID seminar that we ran in November was a resounding success. From wanting to know more about what RFID can offer in the ‘real world’ today, to asking specific questions about their own barcode, 2D or RFID applications, delegates were very interactive and the atmosphere was relaxed and positive. The aims of Fairfield University events are to stimulate ideas, share knowledge and evaluate the true value of coding and RFID applications in track and trace.

Particularly in the case of RFID, feedback from the event showed that there is still a heap of confusion over even the simplest things such as the proliferation of RFID tags on offer and the nuts and bolts of how RFID actually works.

Mark Lynch (Fairfield) and Mark Higham (Siemens) started the proceedings and warmed the crowd up to let them know what was in store.

Mark Lynch

Mark Lynch

Lee Wragg then kicked off the presentations with a technical overview on the evolution of coding. Speaking about the limitations of 1D codes, Lee described how 2D can solve a myriad of problems due to them being hardier, industry standard compliant and generally an all round excellent choice for most applications in track and trace. They can also form a compliment or step towards RFID. Direct part marking was a main feature, and the fact that such a vast amount of information could be stored in a small amount of space went down well with the crowd as they examined some samples of products that had been laser marked with a tiny code. Traceability is obviously key in both aerospace and automotive and the presentation stimulated some good questions on the value of 1D linear barcodes in comparison to 2D codes and technology.

Lee Wragg

Lee Wragg

Examining various aerospace and automotive parts that are RFID tagged or 2D laser coded

Examining various aerospace and automotive parts that are RFID tagged or 2D laser coded

Siemens’ Jens Dolenek speaks about coding and RFID

Siemens’ Jens Dolenek speaks about coding and RFID

Jens Dolenek from Siemens then explained in his presentation how RFID & Coding applications enhance the entire process. From raw material supplier, to end user, coding and RFID can be a key driver to ensuring your information flow is smooth and slick, so you can stay above your competitors. Examples were given from many industries, such as airline baggage using RFID bag tags, automated identification in logistics, and product traceability down to item level.

RFID was then the order of the day as Andy O’Donnell led the group through a lively two way street of RFID debate and also a simple yet powerful presentation on the principles of RFID in essence. Questions were abundant as delegates were eager to apply the concept of the technology to their problem or application. From understanding frequencies to finding out about cost, to answering queries about RFID pilots and trials, Andy was kept on his toes with a host of questions that enabled delegates to take away useful information.

Andy O’Donnell

Andy O’Donnell

Delegates were then invited to tour the demo room and were shown some of the hardware on offer. They then returned to see that hardware in action, combined with bespoke software that Andy used to demonstrate the power, speed and multi-read capability of RFID.

Impressive RFID Demo room

Impressive RFID Demo room

Live RFID Demonstration

Live RFID Demonstration

The day closed with an opportunity to network with the Fairfield and Siemens team as well as other delegates. Watch this space for more information on further events for all of our industries, or email alison.wileman@fairfieldgroup.com to register your interest directly, regardless of which industry you are in.

Fairfield to show ‘Evolution of the Code’ at Packaging Fair

The Auto ID leader will exhibit barcode, 2D code and RFID solutions at the Packtech Exhibition 2014 including RFID and a new end-of-line packaging checker.

Download high res images below by clicking on the thumbnail.

fairfield_checker_solution rfid_solution
Worcester, 30th January 2014Fairfield today announced that they would be exhibiting various leading edge Auto ID and labelling solutions at the upcoming Packtech exhibition taking place in Birmingham on 26 & 27 February 2014.

On show will be a complete journey into the ‘Evolution of the code’ from numbers to 1D barcodes to 2D codes and evolving to RFID tags. The company has been in Auto ID and labelling since 1982 so are well placed to advise clients on their coding needs.

Dispelling the mysteries surrounding RFID, Fairfield will be showcasing various types of RFID tags, which will be read by live RFID readers. Interactive software will also be on display and delegates can try the technology for themselves.

A brand new ‘end-of-line’ vision checker solution will also be demonstrated in an interactive environment. The solution ensures that every product leaving a factory is validated to ALWAYS display the correct barcode, text, label, or anything else required on the packaging. Customers can avoid Supermarket fines, product rejection and wastage.

Mark Lynch, Fairfield Managing Director said: “Mistakes on packaging can be costly and this solution highlights various things such as if there are blank spaces where barcodes or text should be, illegible text, barcodes that fail, incorrect best before dates or batch numbers, and much more. It is also proven to eliminate simple common errors such as changeover mistakes, where the same product being packaged for several customers, accidentally contains the wrong label or the competitors’ information.”

To access Fairfield’s new website, which has an online interactive Q&A feature, as well as a new tailored content knowledge sharing newsletter, go to http://www.fairfieldgroup.com/

About Fairfield
Fairfield specialises in Auto ID solutions within supply chain applications and processes. Customers have been enhancing their asset tracking, manufacturing, logistics or traceability operations with the help of Fairfield for over 30 years. With specific in-house expertise on technology enablers such as barcoding, RFID, vision sensors and 2D barcodes, and a friendly, completely independent knowledge sharing approach, Fairfield ensures clients integrate solutions that achieve their goals. A wide client base covers Healthcare, Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Aerospace, Industrial, Automotive and Food & Beverage. Headquartered in Droitwich Spa, Fairfield are considered one of the few global experts in the field of 2D barcode technology, particularly within the surgical instrument asset tracking, pharmaceutical and industrial arena and are invited to consult and speak about this on a regular basis.

www.fairfieldgroup.com

UK Office
Lovett Road
Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate
Droitwich Spa
Worcestershire WR9 0QG.
Tel: +44 (0)1905 794779

Fairfield Further Expands Reach into RFID

The Auto ID leader relaunches; new website, announces new knowledge sharing University and has been selected as a Siemens Automation solution partner for RFID and Identification in the UK and Ireland.

Download image of Mark Lynch, Fairfield, and Mark Higham, Siemens

l-r_mark_lynch_mark_higham l-r_mark_lynch_mark_higham_siemens

Worcester, 17th October 2013 – Fairfield today announced that it would be completely relaunching its brand and debuting a knowledge sharing University to further assist its increased reach in RFID. It also announced that the business has been appointed as a Siemens solution partner for RFID and Identification in the UK and Ireland. The Worcester company, that began as a simple label printer in 1982, is now one of the best known providers of Auto ID solutions for various applications in track and trace, production control, asset management, warehouse management and supply chain optimisation.

Mark Lynch, Fairfield Managing Director said: “As an impartial company we assess client needs and specialise in recommending the best technology for the solution, rather than forcing the solution around the technology. We have extensive expertise in barcode, RFID, 2D coding and vision solutions, and we evaluate every single product thoroughly before considering it for client applications. After two years testing the range and introducing it very successfully into a selection of our client projects, we are delighted to add Siemens to our stategic portfolio. I am delighted that we are now a key partner for RFID and Identification.”

Mark Higham, General Manager for Sensors and Communication at Siemens said: “We select our partners carefully based on expertise, experience and business processes as we want our customers to be 100% happy and gain the maximum benefit from their solution. We chose Fairfield as they are thorough in their approach, and have many years practical experience in RFID, which means they know the strengths and weaknesses of it when comparing it to barcoding and marking. They genuinely look after their client base which is essential for Siemens to be able to recommend them to our customers and I am excited that our partnership just so happens to coincide with their relaunch.”

Additionally, Fairfield has just launched its ‘University’, where those who are curious or want to advance their knowledge of RFID and other Auto ID mediums can take various structured workshops designed to inspire and empower the individual to develop expertise when it comes to integrating, or deciding whether to integrate the technology into their organisation. A knowledge sharing platform rather than a sales pitch, the University works in conjunction with various strategic partners and offers chargeable workshops and short courses tailored towards specific and relevant industry issues. Mark Lynch said: “From beginners to advanced, Fairfield University is suitable for all companies who are thinking of upgrading or introducing Auto ID into key areas of their organisation.”

The first seminar will take place on 27th November in Manchester at Siemens’ premises and is specifically for the aerospace and automotive industries, although those from other related industry sectors are welcome. It is entitled ‘Today’s Track and Trace Solutions in Aerospace and Automotive’.

To access Fairfield’s new website, which has an online interactive Q&A feature, as well as a new tailored content knowledge sharing newsletter, go to www.fairfieldgroup.com

About Fairfield
Fairfield specialises in Auto ID solutions within supply chain applications and processes. Customers have been enhancing their asset tracking, manufacturing, logistics or traceability operations with the help of Fairfield for over 30 years. With specific in-house expertise on technology enablers such as barcoding, RFID, vision sensors and 2D barcodes, and a friendly, completely independent knowledge sharing approach, Fairfield ensures clients integrate solutions that achieve their goals. A wide client base covers Healthcare, Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Aerospace, Industrial, Automotive and Food & Beverage. Headquartered in Droitwich Spa, Fairfield are considered one of the few global experts in the field of 2D barcode technology, particularly within the surgical instrument asset tracking, pharmaceutical and industrial arena and are invited to consult and speak about this on a regular basis.

www.fairfieldgroup.com

UK Office
Lovett Road
Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate
Droitwich Spa
Worcestershire WR9 0QG.
Tel: +44 (0)1905 794779

Make Light Work of New Pharmaceutical Packaging Requirements With Multi-Scan Solution From Fairfield Group

As Turkey, France and California become the first to move to 2D data matrix barcodes on pharmaceutical packaging, Fairfield launch a cost effective scan solution; the only system on the market that can read all commonly utilised barcodes in one simple scan.

Worcester, 17 January 2011 – Leading edge Auto ID solutions provider Fairfield Group today launched a compliant scan solution that integrates with current and future pharmaceutical industry packaging requirements.

The three main barcodes used currently on Pharmaceutical packaging are Pharmacodes (a 1D barcode), other 1D traditional barcodes, and the increasingly popular 2D data matrix barcode. The multi scan solution from Fairfield identifies all major codes in one simple scan. Fairfield are well known for their specialism and knowledge sharing approach in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare markets, they are often called on for their 2D expertise, and this solution has been designed for easy implementation into new or existing processes, either on or off-line.

Lee Wragg, Fairfield’s Business Development Director said “It can be as simple as a straight swap for existing technology. The scan system itself has unmatched code reading performance and is an industry breakthrough. It offers speed and versatility and is set to save Pharmaceutical companies time, money and effort whilst increasing productivity in a time of change”.

In a bid to overcome counterfeiting, various countries are changing packaging requirements to increase traceability and increase the data carried by product, a feature of which is 2D data matrix barcoding. 2D data matrix codes are better equipped to handle data requirements than the traditional 1D striped barcode or pharmacode, they uniquely identify each individual pack, and enable the serialisation of drugs at the unit level. They are also considered by some as a sensible cost effective solution to RFID tags which are still an expensive option for most, due to their unit cost and level of process integration required for adoption. The adoption of 2D, however, it should be said, does not impact RFID implementation at a later stage if it was required, in terms of cost or process.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) have championed 2D coding for some time now, citing it as a technology driver that helps protect patients in the war against counterfeit drugs. This is also in addition to the value of the information that 2D tracking can bring within pharmacy workflow and POS & overall pharmaceutical supply chains that can be used to make management decisions designed to also enhance patient safety whilst maximising productivity and reducing unnecessary costs.

Mark Lynch, Fairfield’s Managing Director said: “This solution is a cost effective, powerful component in the current drive to protect patients from the increasing number of counterfeit drugs entering the supply chain. Fake products can creep in at any part of the chain and this system is an important component of the validation process. It enables clients to read any valid current code, without having to change scanners, saving masses of time and effort.”

To find out more about Fairfield’s Solutions for the Pharmaceutical Industry call 0044 (0)1905794779

About Fairfield
Fairfield specialises in Auto ID solutions within supply chain applications and processes. Customers have been enhancing their asset tracking, manufacturing, logistics or traceability operations with the help of Fairfield for over 30 years. With specific in-house expertise on technology enablers such as barcoding, RFID, vision sensors and 2D barcodes, and a friendly, completely independent knowledge sharing approach, Fairfield ensures clients integrate solutions that achieve their goals. A wide client base covers Healthcare, Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Aerospace, Industrial, Automotive and Food & Beverage. Headquartered in Droitwich Spa, Fairfield are considered one of the few global experts in the field of 2D barcode technology, particularly within the surgical instrument asset tracking, pharmaceutical and industrial arena and are invited to consult and speak about this on a regular basis.

www.fairfieldgroup.com

UK Office
Lovett Road
Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate
Droitwich Spa
Worcestershire WR9 0QG.
Tel: +44 (0)1905 794779

Surgical Instrument Tracking Becoming a True Reality for the Healthcare Industry

As the Department of Health’s Coding For Success Initiative is reviewed, Fairfield Group cite the many benefits their customers have seen over the past three years, as well as many real challenges that are faced by Hospitals today.

Worcester, 8 December 2010 – Leading edge Healthcare Auto ID solutions provider Fairfield Group today commented on the newly released review of the ‘Coding for Success’ report, initially launched in 2007 to improve traceability and coding in the NHS. The report discusses the importance of surgical instrument tracking, and also divulges information about ‘considerable activity at European and Global level aimed at developing harmonisation of device identification, including the forthcoming announcement of a US regulation that will require all device manufacturers to identify their devices with the EU being likely to follow’.

The report describes progress as being a little slow, the reasons behind this being related to complexity, co-operation, effort, and investment, according to the Department of Health.

Mark Lynch, Fairfield’s Managing Director said: “Fairfield are at the forefront of surgical instrument tracking, and the report findings come as no surprise to us. Many NHS hospitals and Trusts find it a complex topic and the level of information out there can be overwhelming. Our approach from day one was to focus on client goals and simplify the process as much as possible, ensuring that individual Hospitals and Trusts implement a solution that is bespoke to their processes whilst ensuring very important guidelines are met. Personally speaking we’ve seen some incredible success stories coming from our client base pertaining to patient safety, increased efficiencies and huge cost savings, and a large part of this we attribute to our knowledge sharing approach.”

Fairfield offer a GS1 compliant solution that uniquely marks the instrument so it can be identified and traced through the complete operating procedure and beyond. Their expertise has helped many Hospitals and Trusts throughout the UK to improve patient care, save costs and increase efficiency. Recent projects include Nottingham University Hospitals – NHS Trust, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Derriford Hospital Plymouth and Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Lee Wragg, Fairfield’s Business Development Director discusses the challenges ahead: “The Department of Health talk about realisation of benefits and commitment to the process in order to progress track and trace to a higher and more widespread level within healthcare. These issues are exactly the main challenges and pain points for many of our clients initially. Selecting a solutions provider that excels at the technology AND has knowledge of the industry like we do can often address most of those issues in the first meeting. It’s a case of making sure the hospital is aware of the bespoke benefits to them – cost and time savings, reduction in effort, and increased ability to become more patient-centric. We then clearly present a process and philosophy which takes into account the expected commitment from them, and when they weigh that up with the benefits, most wonder why they hadn’t done it a long time ago.”

Find out more about Fairfield’s Surgical Instrument Tracking Solutions or call 0044(0)1905794779

To find out more about the Review of coding for success implementation visit the Department of Health Website here.

About Fairfield
Fairfield specialises in Auto ID solutions within supply chain applications and processes. Customers have been enhancing their asset tracking, manufacturing, logistics or traceability operations with the help of Fairfield for over 30 years. With specific in-house expertise on technology enablers such as barcoding, RFID, vision sensors and 2D barcodes, and a friendly, completely independent knowledge sharing approach, Fairfield ensures clients integrate solutions that achieve their goals. A wide client base covers Healthcare, Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Aerospace, Industrial, Automotive and Food & Beverage. Headquartered in Droitwich Spa, Fairfield are considered one of the few global experts in the field of 2D barcode technology, particularly within the surgical instrument asset tracking, pharmaceutical and industrial arena and are invited to consult and speak about this on a regular basis.

www.fairfieldgroup.com

UK Office
Lovett Road
Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate
Droitwich Spa
Worcestershire WR9 0QG.
Tel: +44 (0)1905 794779

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