Even though it seems that barcoding systems and processes seem heavily emphasized industry wide, it is still very common that we partner with tenured companies who have subpar processes. Often times, it’s simply the lack of resources or technology that prevent the proper grading, printing and tracking. For the sake of continual improvement within our industry, we wanted to discuss the importance of the 2D code within pharmaceutical serialization and aggregation.
Why is Grading Important?
With the human eye, a barcode can be seen as simple lines or designs that are scanned to be read by a machine. However, a poorly printed barcode can not only mean a halt in the delivery of service but also a supply chain nightmare. The quality of the grading may be one of the most important factors in the entire process. Due to the potential impact, many suppliers have urged partnering manufacturing organizations to have their 2D DataMatrix barcodes graded to maintain a uniform level of quality control.
Offline or Online Grading?
Offline grading is a method that should be used for several reasons. Not only does it allow for repeatability of test conditions (per ISO standards) but the label can be placed in the same spot every time for the image capture to be optimized. If using this method, there is a requirement to manually pull samples from the line to bring to the grader meaning that not all 100% of codes will be verified. Online grading would be considered the high-end solution due to the fact that every barcode is inspected when printed. However, false negatives have been detected because of on-line conditions such as lighting, mechanical vibrations and other factors. We recommend using the off-line method as a baseline approach to set a reliable foundation to your system and later, implement an online verification system to provide continuous checks of each barcode. These methods should continue to be assessed and reassessed as technology improves.
Factors that would contribute to an unreadable barcode:
Quiet Zone Violations
Improper Reading Position
Print or Mark Inconsistency
including:Axial Non-Uniformity,Contrast and Grid Non-Uniformity
Damage or Distortion
Fixed Pattern Damage
If your company has been experiencing any of these recurring issues with your barcode processes, please feel free to contact John Hartwig at firstname.lastname@example.org.