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A bar code (often seen as a single word, barcode) is the small image of lines (bars) and spaces that is affixed to retail store items, identification cards, and postal mail to identify a particular product number, person, or location. The code uses a sequence of vertical bars and spaces to represent numbers and other symbols.
A bar code symbol typically consists of five parts:
- A quiet zone,
- A start character
- Data characters (including an optional check character)
- A stop character and another quiet zone.
A barcode reader is used to read the code. The reader uses a laser beam that is sensitive to the reflections from the line and space thickness and variation. The reader translates the reflected light into digital data that is transferred to a computer for immediate action or storage. Bar codes and readers are most often seen in supermarkets and retail stores, but a large number of different uses have been found for them. They are also used to take inventory in retail stores; to check out books from a library; to track manufacturing and shipping movement; to sign in on a job; to identify hospital patients; and to tabulate the results of direct mail marketing returns. Very small bar codes have been used to tag honey bees used in research. Readers may be attached to a computer (as they often are in retail store settings) or separate and portable, in which case they store the data they read until it can be fed into a computer.
BAR CODE TECHNOLOGY:
l It is an automatic identification technology
l Bar code is a predefined format of dark bars and white spaces
l Structured to contain a specific piece of information
l It allows real-time data to be collected accurately and rapidly
l Combination of barcode technology with computer and application software improves performance, productivity and profitability.
BENEFITS OF BAR CODING:
l Represent unique identity of a product
l Accuracy of data input (error free)
l Aid effective management of resources and inventories
l Labor savings by avoiding manual system
l Cost efficient
l Real time data collection
l Measurement of work in progress throughout the factory
l Rapid access to total production costs
l More accurate dispatch.
l Easy to learn: no expensive training for staff as easy to learn.
l Easy to use: requires minimum keystrokes and the mouse is never required (but you can use it if you want).
l Accommodating: if something is not in stock can send a customer order to the purchase order system
l Save your time, increase accuracy and provide greater control over what happens at the sales counter.
l It will enhance operation, providing with increased speed, accuracy and control of inventory – all of which lead to increased profits and more time to focus on growing business.
BAR CODE APPLICATIONS:
l INVENTORY CONTROL
– Portable readers
l WORK-IN PROCESS TRACKING (WIP) COMPANY INVENTORY
– Raw materials
– WIP (Components, Assemblies, Semi finished Products)
– Finished Products
l ELECTRONIC DATA INTERCHANGE (EDI)
– Direct communication between computers of two companies (Manufacturer & Vendor)
– Industry-wide EDI standards
– Reduces cost and saves time of business transaction
l WARE HOUSING
There is no one standard bar code; instead, there are several different bar code standards called symbologies that serve different uses, industries, or geographic needs.
While it may seem like barcodes have been with us forever, barcodes didn’t really make an impact until the 1970’s. It wasn’t until 1974 that the first barcode scanner was employed and the first product barcoded.
In 1932, Wallace Flint suggested that an automated retail checkout system might be feasible. While his concept was deemed unworkable, Flint continued to support the idea of automated checkout throughout his career. In fact, Flint, who went on to become the vice-president of the association of food chains some 40 years later, was instrumental in the development of the UPC code.
Initial Uses of Barcodes
In 1948, a local food chain store owner approached Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia asking about research into a method of automatically reading product information during checkout. Bernard Silver, a graduate student at Drexel Institute, along with fellow graduate student Norman Joseph Woodland, teamed together to develop a solution.
On October 20, 1949, Woodland and Silver succeeded in building a working prototype describing their invention as “article classification…through the medium of identifying patterns”. On October 7, 1952, they were granted a patent (US Patent #2,612,994) for their “Classifying Apparatus and Method”. Efforts to develop a working system accelerated in the 1960’s.
Bar coding was first used commercially in 1966, but to make the system acceptable to the industry as a whole there would have to be some sort of industry standard. By 1970, Logicon Inc. had developed the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code (UGPIC). The first company to produce barcode equipment for retail trade using (using UGPIC) was the American company Monarch Marking (1970), and for industrial use, the British company Plessey Telecommunications (1970).
In 1972, a committee was formed within the grocery industry to select a standard code to be used in the industry. IBM proposed a design, based upon the UGPIC work and similar to today’s UPC code. On April 3, 1973, the committee selected the UPC symbol (based on the IBM proposal) as the industry standard. George J. Laurer is considered the inventor of U.P.C. or Uniform Product Code.
First UPC Scanner
In June of 1974, the first U.P.C. scanner was installed at a Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The first product to have a barcode was Wrigley’s Gum.
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