Barcodes serve as a link between people and information; the barcode has proven to be such an important innovation because it serves as a highly-useful physical tool that, when scanned, grants people access to the more abstract world of data. For businesses, this abstract data is so important because it provides real information about how a product or service moves through the physical world.
With the exciting recent advances in the world of data science, advancements that have skyrocketed the value of data to new heights, most discussion of the importance of barcodes today is focused on the data they can provide. And this focus is certainly understandable. After all, this data can help identify inefficiencies, streamline operations and fine-tune procedures to a very particular degree. Even small improvements in any of these areas can give businesses in a wide variety of industries a slight competitive edge that can be the difference between success and failure, especially for small businesses. For these reasons, the data from barcodes, and the barcode software programs that utilize them, receive more attention and investment than ever before.
But what about the physical barcodes themselves? More importantly, what about the barcode scanners that allow users to scan the barcodes and transfer the barcode data onto computers and software programs that can most effectively harvest their value? It can be all too easy to lose track of the importance of barcode scanners as a business ventures into the world of improving its barcode processes. There are several different types of barcode scanners, and each one may be best suited to a particular business or a particular industry.
Pen Barcode Readers
Pen barcode readers look like a small pen (sometimes referred to as a stick or a wand). The user moves the pen over the barcode to scan the code. These scanners are effective but may take some time for the user to get the hang of using quickly.
Laser Barcode Readers
These advanced barcode readers use a laser to achieve highly accurate readings relative to other types of barcode readers. Laser barcode readers have the added advantage of being able to be mounted in a unit that allows for multiple barcodes to be scanned at one time, rather than one at a time as in other types. Laser readers and scanners are available from many top brands including Honeywell and Intermec.
LED Barcode Reader
An LED barcode reader is also called a charged coupled device (CCD). They beam LED lights at a barcode and then read the light’s reflection. These readers are also highly accurate, though they can be expensive relative to other types.
2D Camera Barcode Readers
Certain types of barcodes require special 2D camera barcode readers to scan and decode their information. These readers work with special software that is capable of receiving the information from the camera reader and turning it into usable data.
Choosing The Right Reader
Ultimately, the best type of barcode reader depends on a number of factors unique to a personal or business situation. The cost of the reader is one such factor, but it’s also important to consider the type of barcode it will be scanning, who or what will be doing the scanning and the environment in which the scanning will take place.