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April 20, 2017


Seven reasons why your barcodes might be failing

by Marko Vrbnjak

There are many reasons as to why barcodes fail, but they can usually be grouped into two categories: poor printing and poor data quality. Failures due to poor printing are easier to detect because they will be visible to the eye, but data errors are more difficult to spot. You may need to go through all of the barcode quality control checklist steps to figure out where the error lies.

Learn about the barcode quality control checklist in The GS1 Handbook – How To Barcode Your Product

Here are the seven most common mistakes that companies make with barcodes.

  1. Wrong placement of the barcode
    Check that your barcode is not placed on a curved edge or a corner and has enough space on the package. Curved surfaces cannot be read easily by scanners and are not a good place to put barcodes. Make sure that the quiet areas around your barcode fit the standard requirement also. The light area to the left and right of the barcode plays an important role in readability. Barcodes are all about those lines and spaces!
  2. Which color combination have you used?
    Scanners are able to read barcodes only when there are dark bars used on a light, contrasting background. Scanners measure the distance in contrast between spaces using red light, so it’s important to use colors that maximise this contrast. Check that your barcode color is GS1 recommended.
  3. Is the product package translucent?
    If the product and package color is transparent or translucent this will cause a problem with the color contrast, and the scanner may not be able to read the barcode.
  4. Is your package metallic or shiny?
    Metal or metallic product packages like beverage cans have a shiny surface that are often very reflective. This can cause barcode failure.
  5. How is the print quality?
    Check that all the lines are clear and visible, and look out for any extra ink spots or damage that may have occurred while printing. The bars and spaces in a barcode can tolerate a certain amount of gain or loss in width, but when printing exceeds that tolerance, the barcode scanning will fail.
  6. Is the data of the barcode accurate?
    Incorrect barcode structure is a mistake that is related to poor data quality and is often more difficult to detect. Make sure that the symbology is correctly identified, ordered and structured as the standards suggest. Sometimes the order of day and month in a field can be the mistake you are looking for!
  7. Any external effects?
    Is the barcode label damaged, creased or peeling off? What about distortion or anything that obstructs the label on the package? Make sure that when a scanner is held towards the label, there is no external object or problem interfering the scan.

You can find out all about the GS1 system, how to create barcodes correctly and how to verify them in The GS1 Handbook – How To Barcode Your Product and read more on other barcode related tips here.

Contact us to learn how NiceLabel can help you create errorless barcodes that scan successfully every time.

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