Barcodes have become an essential part of modern society, especially in the FMCG/CPG area. Prices are almost never manually entered into store POS systems anymore. Barcodes, governed by the GS1 standard in Germany, control processes both in front of and behind the counter. Barcodes are scanned whenever users need to save time and record data efficiently – from production to logistics to the point of sale.
A barcode is a script or symbol consisting of multiple parallel bars and gaps of different widths that can be read or scanned using an opto-electronic device. The term code indicates a way to deliver data using binary symbols. Data in a barcode is mechanically read in using optical readers such as barcode scanners or cameras, then processed electronically.
Barcodes are essential wherever item numbers need to be automatically recorded and processed – such as at cash registers, in the warehouse, or for incoming goods.
They are applied to both consumer and retail units. An EAN barcode can be used to encrypt an 8 or 13-digit global article number (GTIN). Since 2009, the EAN number has been called the GTIN – Global Trade Item Number. However, the term “EAN” still persists.1
Barcodes are standardized under international standard ISO/IEC 15420. Their content is defined in the GS1* General Specifications through user group specification (retail) – two of the most well-known applications, for instance:
EAN-8 has 8 digits, one of which is a check digit.
EAN-13 has 13 digits, one of which is a check digit.
GS1 stipulates the standard for barcodes. Today, EAN-13 barcodes on items are just one of many different applications and types of code. Whether they’re the GS1-128, which serves as the key to track shipments, the GS1 DataBar for goods with variable weights like fruit, or the GS1 DataMatrix – GS1 barcodes are available today for a wide variety of applications, and they’re not just useful for speeding up check-out.
CREATE BARCODES SECURELY AND EFFICIENTLY
Barcodes are often so-called 2D codes. These two-dimensional codes typically code information in the surface, meaning that information is included not only in the form of bars, but also in (white and black) dots. We differentiate between stacked barcodes, matrix codes, point codes, and several other special types.
DAS STUDIO will create your delivered barcode quickly and efficiently using the Automation Engine by Esko. In addition, each barcode is checked in DTP with the REA MLV-2D Barcode scanner to check its readability. This code report also includes other information like the code content, code type, bar thickness, and a quality rating.
Global Vision allows all barcodes to be compared in a PDF with reference entries from the Automation Engine, then reviewed by our quality management department. Then the barcodes are printed as a contract proof on one of our standardized and ISO certified large-format printers, such as the Epson Stylus Pro 9900, to check quality.
Although these barcodes are highly important, they can also often be annoying as they take up space that could be used for graphics or product information. Small packages with multiple languages, especially, can often become overcrowded or may require additional artwork since there’s no space for all the information. “Invisible” barcodes are an obvious solution, and are used in applications like providing copy protection to secure goods on original packaging.
SAMPLE “INVISIBLE” BARCODE IN COLORED AREAS
There are a variety of methods for this. UV-based barcodes have been printed for quite some time to prevent counterfeiting. UV (ultraviolet) and IR (infrared) are common processes used to develop “counterfeit-proof” packaging. The codes are printed with a UV varnish or ink that is invisible to the naked eye and can only be read using specialized scanners or UV black light. This is one option to prevent counterfeiting, but not for using the EAN code. Solutions like one offered by the company Digimarc are good in this application – a variation that can be read by a specialized app as well as by many leading cash register systems, and is not recognizable as a barcode. This method uses a process similar to a water mark. The code is hidden into colored surfaces, for instance, as a barely recognizable pattern and can only be read by the specialized app or a cash register system.
The advantage of this process is that invisible barcodes can be applied as many times as desired to the packaging, allowing the scanner to recognize them no matter the position of the item. Since the code is essentially unrecognizable without the right reader and is hidden at numerous places, this system is almost impossible to counterfeit.
The Digimarc code can be used with all commonly available printing processes. GS1, which works closely with Digimarc, and others have confirmed the operational capabilities of the process. Many retailers are interested in improved readability at the point of sale without applying multiple visible barcodes.
Contact us with questions about this topic – we’d be happy to partner with you to implement your own solution.
Your contact partner: Björn Hegner, email@example.com
*https://www.gs1-germany.de/ – the organization which assigns manufacturer-specific basic barcode numbers
Source for sample barcodes:
Image source: https://www.digimarc.com/application/retail, all rights are with Digimarc, Copyright Digimarc, 2017
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