Barcode system

Barcode system

A barcode system is a network of hardware and software, consisting primarily of mobile computers, printers, handheld scanners, infrastructure, and supporting software. Barcode systems are used to automate data collection where hand recoding is neither timely or cost effective. Barcoding systems are not radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems even though the companies that provide barcode equipment will often also provide RFID equipment and many companies use both technologies as part of larger resource management systems.

History

In 1948, Bernard Silver was a graduate student at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia. A local food chain store owner had made an inquiry to the Drexel Institute asking about research into a method of automatically reading product information during checkout. Bernard Silver joined together with fellow graduate student Norman Joseph Woodland to work on a solution. Woodland's first idea was to use ultraviolet light sensitive ink. The team built a working prototype but decided that the system was too unstable and expensive. They went back to the drawing board. On October 20, 1949, Woodland and Silver filed their patent application for the " [http://www.google.com/patents?id=vWJoAAAAEBAJ&dq=Classifying+Apparatus+and+Method|Classifying Apparatus and Method] ", describing their invention as "article classification ... through the medium of identifying patterns". Bar code was first used commercially in 1966, however, it was soon realized that there would have to be some sort of industry standard set. By 1970, the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code or UGPIC was written by a company called Logicon Inc. The first company to produce bar code equipment for retail trade use (using UGPIC) was the American company Monarch Marking in 1970, and for industrial use, the British company Plessey Telecommunications was also first in 1970. UGPIC evolved into the U.P.C. symbol set or Universal Product Code, which is still used in the United States. George J. Laurer is considered the inventor of U.P.C. or Uniform Product Code, which was invented in 1973. In June 1974, the first U.P.C. scanner was installed at a Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The first product to have a bar code included was a packet of Wrigley's Gum. [http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blbar_code.htm]

Hardware

There is a wide range of hardware that is manufactured today for use in Barcode Systems. The best known brand of handheld scanners and mobile computers is Symbol, which is now a division of Motorola. Other manufacturers include Intermec, HHP (Hand Held Products), Microscan, Unitech, Metrologic and PSC.

oftware

While there is a range of hardware on the market, software is more difficult to find from the hardware manufacturers. Some ERP, MRP, and other inventory management software have built in support for barcode reading and some even allow the software to run directly on a mobile computer. Besides full management software, there are more than a few software on the market that allow the developer to easily produce custom mobile interfaces and that handle the connect to the database. One such software is [http://www.rfgen.com/index.asp RFgen] . Then there is always the option of developing a custom software solution, using a language such as C++, C#, Java, Visual Basic.NET, and many others. Often developing a custom interface using software such as RFgen or developing new, personalized software is the most effective method since it allows the individual to have a solution that is fitted to their exact needs.

Typical Systems

In General

A typical barcode system consist of some infrastructure, either wired or wireless that connects some number of mobile computers, handheld scanners, and printers to one or many databases that store and analyze the data collected by the system. At some level there must be some software to manage the system. The software may be as simple as code that manages the connection between the hardware and the database or as complex as an ERP, MRP, or some other inventory management software.

A Simple Example

Assume ABC Inc. manufactures widgets and they want to offer online shopping for their customers and they only want their customers to order widgets they have in stock. ABC already uses an ERP system to help manage their inventory and day to day operations at their manufacturing plant but for information to get into the ERP database an employee must enter the data manually using a desktop computer terminal. This method doesn't work well with ABC's plans because the inventory data is nowhere close to real time, in fact in most cases it’s at least 24 hours old and sometime as much as a week old if the data entry person is on vacation. A solution to ABC's problem may be the installation of a barcode system. By installing a barcode system to help track inventory in real time ABC would be able to offer their customers online ordering and the customer could see which widgets were available and could in turn only be allowed to place orders for those widgets which were in stock. To install this barcode system ABC would need to first install a wireless network to cover most if not all of their manufacturing plant and warehouse, unless they planned on using wired barcode scanners. For this example we'll assume ABC chose to go with wireless scanners that communicate on a IEEE 802.11g frequency because ABC doesn't want their employees to be restricted to the limited range of wired scanners. Next ABC would need to either purchase an out of the box software package or have custom software developed to allow the hardware of the barcode system to communicate with their current ERP system. This is assuming ABC's ERP system does not have the ability to directly communicate with the wireless devices. We will assume that the out of the box software vendor or the software developer whichever is chosen will take care of the setup and testing of the software. We are assuming this because the development and/or setup of this software is usually rather complicated and also because the process is different for almost all types of software. Next ABC will have to purchase and setup the hardware (scanners, printers, etc.) that the employees will us on a daily bases to help track ABC's inventory in real time. After the wireless network is setup and the software and hardware is in place ABC will have to start labeling its products with labels containing bar-coded information so the labels can be read by the new barcode system. The final step for ABC is to train its employees on the procedures of use for the barcode system.

Note

The above example is a grossly over simplified example. If your company is looking to install such a system and you or no one else at your company has any prior experience with such systems, it is very important to note that more research and planning should be done before undertaking such a project as the success of the project will depend greatly on how well you research and plan. It is also important to note that when purchasing hardware and/or software from auction sites such as EBay that one confirm the creditability of the seller before making a purchase because if your purchased hardware or software is stolen the manufacturer may refuse to service or support the item, and service and support is something that will at some point be required. If your experience is limited about systems such as these, often the manufacturers of the hardware and software can guide you during the project or can direct you to a company that can. Also note that the defining of objectives and timelines for your project will greatly improve the project's probability for success.

Vendors

*Symbol
*Intermec

References

# [http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blbar_code.htm About.com]

External links

# [http://www.foxiv.com/index.cfm?page=epc-adoption-barriers Barcode Labeling Solutions]
# [http://www.symbol.com Symbol]
# [http://www.motorola.com Motorola]
# [http://www.intermec.com Intermec]
# [http://www.google.com/patents?id=vWJoAAAAEBAJ&dq=Classifying+Apparatus+and+Method Google Patents]
# [http://www.rfgen.com/index.asp RFgen]
# [http://www.datascansystems.com DataScan Systems]


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