How Barcodes Work

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How barcodes work
Barcodes contain a series of lines of varying widths and spaces that represent numbers or letters that equate to a specific product or other information.

How barcodes work: Unlocking barcoding

Replacing pens and paper with bar codes and scanners reduces costs, improves operations, and is available to businesses of all sizes. Barcoding is easy to implement, easy to use, and delivers a quick return on investment. When a barcode is tied to an inventory control system like Acctivate, the full power of a barcode system can be seen.

The first step in understanding how barcodes work is to gain an understanding of what a barcode is. A barcode is a code in the form of numbers and parallel line patterns in differing widths meant to be read by a machine, or scanner.

A barcode can be found printed on a product and is used to identify varying aspects about the product.

How barcodes work: Scanning a barcode

A barcode can contain any information

Most people are familiar with barcodes on products. These barcodes are simply unique codes that represent one single entity.

That entity can be a book, a dinner plate, a package of rubber-bands or anything else that needs to be uniquely defined. In your organization, you can give each unit that you stock whatever code you want.

How barcodes work: What barcodes do

Barcodes are frequently misunderstood and defining what barcodes can and cannot is important to understanding how barcodes work. What do barcodes do? When this barcode is scanned, the system understands “12345”. You decide what “12345” refers to in your system.

What barcodes do

How barcodes work: What barcodes do not do

Only the information “12345” will be returned back to the system when the barcode is scanned. The barcode only contains those 5 digits.

It does not contain full product information, size, shape, weight, color or anything else. The barcode is simply one code that can be easily read by a barcode scanner. It’s just “12345”.

Barcodes for product ID, lot number, serial number & warehouse location

Acctivate supports barcodes encoded using GS1-128 (formerly UCC/EAN-128), which provides a global standard for exchanging data between different companies.

GS1-128 bar code encoded with lot number data using the Application Identifier (AI), 10.
Bar code encoded with lot number data as indicated by the ’10’ prefix, which is an Application Identifier.
The Application Identifier of '99'
The Application Identifier of ’99’ indicates that this barcode is encoded with warehouse location data.

GS1-128 encodes the bar code data and one or two Application Identifiers (AI’s), which indicate what type of data is encoded.

Application Identifiers can also determine the data length and format.

Acctivate supports the following Application Identifiers:

(00) Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC-18)
(01) Product ID
(10) Lot number*
(17) Expiration date (Lot/Serial)
(21) Serial number*
(99) Warehouse location
(310y) Weight in Kg where y equals the number of decimals
(320y) Weight in Lb where y equals the number of decimals
(30) Quantity

*10 or 21 can be used for lot or serial numbers interchangeably

Discover Acctivate
Acctivate is packed with features for your entire business. Talk to our team of product experts and see if Acctivate is right for your business.

Call us at 817-870-1311