Offline Versus Inline Barcode Verification
Manufacturers printing or marking barcodes on products often rely on a barcode verifier to ensure codes can be read by any barcode reader in the supply chain. A verifier analyzes a code and generates measurements according to the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) standards that are important for understanding the quality and readability of codes. The end result is a formal quality grade that includes a letter value and is detailed in a printable or exportable report. Barcodes which receive “passing” grades (typically “C” grade or better) have met the minimum accepted threshold for performance and first-pass read rates. The benefit of verification over other forms of quality control is that it certifies codes are marked correctly and meet an industry’s quality threshold, rather than an individual producer’s threshold.Offline verification
Most verifier models available today are offline, meaning they are handheld or desktop models used outside of a production line. To keep pace with production, most producers will only verify a sample of codes in any batch. The sampling standard is determined by the producers’ quality control statistical requirements and sometimes customer specifications. The problem with random sampling is that barcode quality issues are often not caught in real time. Codes not sampled are not available for diagnostic examination after problems are discovered.
Offline verifiers have the benefit of being less expensive and do not require a labor-intensive setup process. Additionally, they are easy to source when working with an odd-sized code or marking on a difficult substrate because there are many different verifier models on the market made specifically for certain barcode sizes and marking processes.
The DataMan 8072V is an offline handheld barcode verifier with 30-, 45-, and 90-degree lighting options available to capture and grade the most difficult direct part mark (DPM) codes. Detailed reports show whether codes meet industry standards and can be used to demonstrate compliance, as well as pinpoint printing and process control issues.
Inline verifiers, or verifiers installed in a fixed position on a production line, have traditionally been too slow to handle most line speeds since the verification process takes much longer than simply reading a code. Until recently, inline verifiers have also been limited to verifying only 1D linear barcodes. Developing an inline verifier is no small task but a few companies have developed products that can now verify codes, including 2D codes, at much faster speeds.
In order for an inline verifier to be compliant with ISO standards, the lighting has to be at a specific angle and at a specific distance from the code. The verifier also needs to be calibrated. This can make setup more complex than an offline verifier depending on the verifier model, barcode procedure, and the intricacy of the production line.
Inline verification may cost more than offline verification, but it does provide a quality grade and report for every single barcode produced. That means less liability and less potential problems with code quality and read rates. It also provides a notification as soon as code quality begins to drop, taking away the guess work of things like when to change the ink or marking needles.
The DataMan 475V inline barcode verifier provides automated, high-speed verification and quality reporting directly on a production line. Its four-quadrant, 45-degree lighting attachment is compliant with ISO requirements for grading 1D and 2D codes. Immediate feedback and visual diagnostic information provides operators with the ability to identify and correct printing and process control issues as they happen. And detailed reports can be generated for traceability, process control, and compliance.
Choosing the right barcode verifier
The decision of whether to select an inline or an offline barcode verifier depends on the answer to a few questions.
- How much space is on the production line?
- How fast are the codes being marked?
- What types of codes do you need to verify?
- What are the code sizes?
- What are the codes printed on?
- What ISO or industry group standards need to be met?
Not all products marketed as “verifiers” are ISO compliant, so be sure to select a verifier that can meet the requirements outlined in these standards and generate reports that detail the results. Choosing either an offline or an inline verifier is the right choice to guarantee improved quality, readability, and compliance with industry regulations.