The secrets of barcodes

March 9, 2012
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In a world that is perpetually changing gear through the introduction of new and fascinating technologies, both businesses and customers can benefit from cutting edge innovations. And it is those amazing little widgets that make manufacturing processes so easy and buying items a breeze that are  so often taken so much for granted. The barcode is often given little thought but its presence is absolutely essential both for a smooth shopping experience, inventory control and effective pricing.

The Barcode – More than just product information

Here at tantolabels.com we know the meaning of quality barcodes as you can see by the numerous testimonials we have acquired on our website. We also understand that to most product manufacturers and shoppers alike they are a bit of a mystery.

Many think the store assistants scanner is simply registering what the product is and what the price is (it can even be configured to take into account short term discounts and offers). But for the astute businessman looking to streamline his business it offers much more powerful information. It can keep a track of what products are bing sold and quantites within a certain range or genre. This information can not only be fed back for future marketing use but can also be used to ensure that the ware house is always stocked up to the right levels.

Clearly the coding on barcodes is meant to be read by machines to make inventory control and the shopping process faster and easier. But how do these clever little things work?

Reading between the lines

Each of the black and white lines read by the shop assistants scanner has a width of between one and four units. The units are not a standard width, as the image can be blown up or shrunken to different sizes. Instead, the widths of the stripes are proportional to each other. You will see if you look closely that at the  beginning of every barcode is a signal to scanners and computers so that they know where to begin reading – the start code. You will see three bars: there is a thin black bar, then a thin white bar, and another black bar.

The bars and stripes symbolise the numbers found at the bottom of the label. Each number is represented by four bars which are each seven units wide. For instance,  the number four is shown by groupings of one, one, three, and two lines. Whenever there is a number four on the bottom of a UPC label, the bars above it will be a black or white line that’s one unit wide, another line of the opposite color that is one unit wide, then a three-unit line, and finally a two-unit line. So you can actually see how the numbers are recognized and formed.

 

 

 

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