Barcodes are a vital part of any supply chain operation in modern manufacturing and distribution. The quality of that barcode image can make or break your chain leaving customers wondering if they should look elsewhere.
Missed shipments, incorrect or lost inventory, chargeback costs, noncompliance with customer standards and increased labor costs (rescanning or manual entry) are all common issues that get traced back to barcode issues.
There are two common root causes for poor quality barcodes:
- Undereducated employees purchasing the wrong consumables (ribbons, labels or tags) for the application in question. For example a wax ribbon would inappropriate for a situation where a synthetic or polyester label may be exposed to high heat or chemicals. Learn more about picking the correct ribbon the previous post.
- Lack of care and maintenance. Cleaning print heads in between ribbon changes is a recommended step by all the big manufacturers (Zebra, Honeywell, Sato, Printronix etc.) that is often skipped. This leads to dirty heads and poor quality images. Media storage is important, humidity and heat can degrade both ribbons and labels in subtle ways that will impact both the longevity and the quality of the image.
How to ensure success
- Have a detailed maintenance plan that spells out cleaning and replacement schedules for all key components.
- Regularly educate your buyers and other staff on current processes as well as new options (your vendor can probably help with this)
- Routinely inspect your storage areas
Going above and beyond insider Tip: Verification via a Barcode verifier
A simple step that goes above and beyond the norm is to install barcode verifiers. This will ensure and document the readability of every single barcode printed. Not only do barcode verifiers catch mistakes, they can also auto correct them or alert staff for manual intervention. This allows your team to manage exceptions as they arise and know that your customers are being taken care of.