Can Any Barcode Scanner Read Any Barcode?

Can Any Barcode Scanner Read Any Barcode?

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Given how ubiquitous barcodes are in most people’s lives these days – one only needs to walk into the closest high-street retail store to see an abundance of products with barcode stickers on them – it is surprising how little many of us actually know about them.

For one thing, barcodes are far from a technology that is only used in the retail sector. As of the 2020s, industries and organisations ranging from manufacturing and healthcare to travel and government institutions make extensive use of them.

So, there’s a good chance that your own organisation might make use of barcode scanners from any of a range of renowned manufacturers and brands, such as Honeywell, Zebra, and Symbol.

However, even if your organisation has a stock of barcode scanners already, this doesn’t guarantee that your scanners will be able to scan the barcodes you need them to scan.

Different Types of Barcode Scanner Can Handle Different Types of Barcode

Yes, this is the first unfortunate news we have to share with you on the subject of barcode scanner compatibility; it is certainly not the case that all barcode scanners can scan all barcodes.

That’s because there are different types of barcodes out there, and your organisation’s barcode scanners might not incorporate the technology needed to scan them.

The two broad ‘classes’ of barcode that you should be aware of are 1D and 2D codes, so let’s take a closer look at the differences:

  • 1D codes (or “one-dimensional codes”) are the type of barcode that many people picture when someone mentions the word “barcode”. These barcodes are horizontal linear codes, consisting of a group of lines and spaces, which represent the data a compatible barcode scanner will read. The best-known and most common 1D barcode is the Universal Product Code (UPC); it consists of 12 digits, and has been in use since the 1970s. We’re sure you will be familiar with this type of barcode from your supermarket shopping.

  • 2D codes (or “two-dimensional codes”), on the other hand, look clearly different to a 1D barcode or the UPC, given that they use patterns of dots, squares, hexagons, or other shapes. This reflects the different way in which these barcodes store data compared to 1D codes, with information being stored horizontally as well as vertically. 2D codes can store much more data than their 1D counterparts – think more than 4,000 alphanumeric characters, or over 7,000 numeric characters, in the case of QR codes, compared to the approximately 20 characters that a traditional linear barcode is able to store. 2D codes can be square or rectangular, with examples including QR codes and Data Matrix codes.

You can probably already get the sense, then, that these two types of barcode greatly differ from each other. So in the event, for example, that your organisation needs to scan a QR code, you should be using a 2D-capable barcode scanner to read it, because a standard or 1D barcode scanner will not be capable of deciphering it.

Are You Getting the Best Out of Your Business’s Barcode Scanners?

With both 1D and 2D barcodes continuing to see widespread use throughout the UK and the world, in a dizzying range of industries, your organisation might need to scan one, or multiple types of barcodes in its day-to-day operations. You will therefore need to carefully peruse the specification sheets of any barcode scanning equipment you are considering investing in.

There is, however, something else you will need to be sure of with your firm’s barcode scanners: that they are always in good operational condition. Even a relatively short period of downtime for your organisation’s barcode scanners could be damaging to productivity. So, you can probably begin to see why services like our own in Datalogic, Honeywell, or Zebra barcode scanner repair – to cite just some of the brands in which we have expertise – can be so invaluable.

Indeed, you might be reading this very article because you have found your Honeywell, Zebra, or Datalogic scanner not scanning, and are wondering whether the problem is the device’s incompatibility with the type of barcode you have been attempting to scan.

Well, we’re here to tell you that sometimes, a lack of barcode compatibility isn’t the problem – it really could be that your barcode scanner is simply malfunctioning. Whether it be a Symbol MC9190 Repair you are after or it is a new Honeywell handset malfunctioning and you can’t seem to get to the bottom of any issues with your barcode scanners, you are very welcome to reach out to our team at Mobile Computer Repair to see whether we can help.

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