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Application Standards for Barcode Verification

Medical devices, label, automotive parts

Barcode verification is the process of grading the quality of 1D, 2D, and direct part mark (DPM) codes to specified standards. Many producers already monitor the quality of their codes using process control metrics (PCM) and data validation software on their barcode readers. Though a step in the right direction, this is not true verification and can cause major issues later on in the supply chain. To prevent issues, some industry committees have developed application standards mandating that their manufacturers comply with their rules for barcode marking and grading. 

An application standard provides: 

  • What type of symbology is acceptable 
  • What ISO standard to grade against 
  • The minimum acceptable grade 
  • Aperture, x-dimension range, lighting angle(s) required 
  • How the data within the barcode must be formatted

UDI for medical devices 

The FDA mandated that all medical devices contain a Unique Device Identifier (UDI) by the year 2020. A UDI is a barcode containing a specific set of information that the FDA has required to be on all medical devices. The ruling requires that all medical devices be labeled with a barcode graded according to GS1 or HIBCC rules and list a product’s lot number, serial number, and expiration date if applicable. Additionally, the FDA requests that a portion of the information within each UDI barcode be submitted to the FDA’s Global Unique Device Identifier Database (GUDID) system. The information required depends on the medical device type. 

GS1 for retail distribution and point of sale 

Barcodes in retail, transportation, and food service use a standard provided by GS1 to regulate barcode quality in their industry. Global manufacturers must register with GS1 to receive their individual GTIN number, which ensures that no two product barcodes of the same symbology contain the same data. Those manufactures must follow the data formatting stated in the GS1 standard and meet the print quality required. 

UID (MIL-STD-130) for Department of Defense 

Items sold to the United States Department of Defense must use a UID marked according to MIL-STD-130, an application standard designed to help the US government track purchasing details, maintenance logs, and out-of-commission dates in a central registry. MIL-STD-130 Data Matrix codes must meet both readability (print quality) and data formatting requirements. Print quality requirements can be met through measurements in accordance with ISO 15415, AS9132, or AIM DPM. The data must be formatted in accordance with ISO 15434. 

Automotive 

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) founded the Barcoding Project Team in 1981 to develop automotive industry standards for barcodes. Ever since then, barcodes have been instrumental in the supply chain standards for the automotive industry. In 1984, AIAG adopted the Code 39 alphanumeric symbology and published the first industry-wide barcode standards: Barcode Symbology (B-1) and Shipping/Parts Identification Label (B-3). 

Since the initial founding of the Barcoding Project Team, other guidelines for suppliers to the automotive industry have been created.  These include industry-wide and company specific initiatives. Two of the industry standards are listed below. 

  • GM 1724 is the General Motors global label specification
  • AIAG B-17 is a 2D direct part marking guideline for the automotive industry. The guideline uses AIM DPM standards for verifying the quality of the barcode.  

Aerospace 

The aerospace industry uses a variety of symbologies, marking methods, and application standards. Label systems use both linear 1D and 2D symbologies including Data Matrix codes for unique item identification, inventory movement, and control. Mechanical parts made of plastic, aluminum, ceramic, and steel are in many cases directly marked by dot-peening, laser and chemical etching, and other marking methods. 

Linear barcodes (code 128, code 39 called out in the ATA Spec 2000) on labels and nameplates can be graded according to ISO-15416 quality specifications. Data Matrix barcodes referenced in both the ATA Spec 2000 and The DOD’s MIL-STD-130 can be verified using all of the verifier systems, specifically the DPM models. Another popular standard is AS9132 the Aerospace Industries own specification for dot peen DPM marks.  

Barcode verifiers and software report on code quality parameters and validate data for conformance to ISO as well as these application standards. To learn more about application standards and verification, download the Beginner's Guide to Barcode Verification

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