RFID Tags and Barcode Labels for Material Management and Asset Tracking

By: Sagedata  09-12-2011
Keywords: Asset Management, Management Systems, barcode

RFID Tags

We can provide a variety of tags in LF, HF or UHF variants, with different package options available in each category. RFID tags must be carefully selected for each specific application. Please contact SageData directly for further information on your RFID application, and on the most appropriate tags.


Barcode Labels

Definition.

A label which contains some of its information in barcode format.

Applications.

These labels can be used for asset identification, to track maintenance, or to control calibration activities. They are also used in supply chain management and warehouse management systems to track the movement of inventories.

Materials.

Barcode labels can be printed on a variety of materials including paper, polyester, fabric and aluminium.

Security.

Labels can be printed on tamper resistant materials, which make it impossible to remove a label and place it on a different item.

Human readable code.

In most cases, the content of the barcode is also printed in human readable format.

Symbologies

How to choose the best barcode symbology for your application?
There are over 70 different barcode symbologies available. However, only a few of the 70 plus are widely used today. Think of the different barcode symbologies as a different alphabet or font that you would use on your printer.

A few of the more common bar code symbologies used today:

Code 128

A good modern all purpose code, particularly for "inside the walls". It features a small footprint, and good error checking - which means a reduced probability of incorrect reads. This symbology uses the least amount of space for barcodes of 6 or more characters and is a good choice where barcode width is an issue. There are three variants, types A, B and C. Contact SageData directly to find out which would be best for your application.

Code 39

More properly called 3 of 9. The name comes from the coding formula. Each character is portrayed by five black lines, and the four white spaces between them - which gives a total of 9 elements - the "9" of the code 39.
Of these nine elements, three will be wide, and six will be thin. So this is the "3" of the code 39 name.
Code 39 is a solid and robust code, still in common use. It has a slightly larger footprint than code 128. In most circumstances, there is little practical difference between codes 39 and 128.

UPC

Universal Product Code. The code we find on our groceries. There are two parts to the code. The first part identifies the manufacturer, the second part identifies the product. We recommend that UPC are not used in other environments. We have seen them used in Asset Management applications. They will work, but are not recommended. Use 128 or 39 instead.

EAN

European Article Number. The UPC was first introduced in the US. The EAN can accommodate more numbers, enabling a wider range of product before "the numbers run out". Again, best reserved for its intended purpose, retail identification.

Common Errors.

Quiet Zone

All bar codes require a quiet zone at the end of the printed bars and before the end of the label. A common error is for users to cut off the white space to help fit the label into a small area. This often results in intermittent scanning.
Another common problem is to print the barcode to the limit of the label. This can be puzzling, as the labels will scan when on the roll. They will also scan if placed on a white surface. But if placed on a dark surface, the reader sees a wide black bar at the beginning and end of the barcode, and will usually fail to read.

A black and white problem

Barcodes are intended to be printed as black stripes on a white background. Any other combination is operating outside the specification, down to luck. Barcodes are commonly printed on coloured backgrounds. Modern readers can usually cope, but there is no guarantee. We recommend that if colour is required for identification, it be applied as a strip above or below the barcode.

Squeezing too hard

A fairly common problem occurs as the numbers in a system increase. A barcode printer set to print "100" may work well, but when the number gets to "1000" or "10000" the barcode itself gets longer. Which may mean less quiet zone (see above). But sometimes the person doing the printing uses the label printing software to keep the barcode itself the same length. Which means it becomes more dense. And as the bars (and spaces between them) become thinner, the barcode becomes more difficult to read.
Solution - use a different symbology - or a longer label!

Related Pages.

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Keywords: Asset Management, barcode, barcode labels, Management Systems, Rfid Tags, Warehouse Management, Warehouse Management Systems

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