Considering implementing a NetSuite barcode scanning system in your warehouse? There are multiple considerations, but at the heart of the project is what you'll be scanning - barcodes. When it comes to labeling inventory, parts, equipment, and consumer products - does one type of barcode offer more advantages over the other? The choice between a barcode, QR code or RFID tag is typically dependent on a few variables, such as the amount of data that needs to be stored in the code, the type of item or product being labeled, and the product's location. Let's break it down.
Advantages of 1-D Barcodes
Barcode labels have been the industry standard in retail and logistics for over 30 years, and once implemented, is the most effective way to manage inventory. Commonly known as 1-D, 1-dimensional barcodes can hold more than one piece of information about the product it is attached to when scanned. When the scanner "reads" the barcode, it converts the lines and numbers using a translation language called barcode parsing to display the information held against that barcode (ie. product id, lot, expiry date).
In addition to point-of-sale applications, 1-D barcodes are also used for labeling raw materials and inventory management, providing a way to monitor inventory levels with less need for hands-on human intervention (and less room for human error). They’re also used by the postal service and throughout the shipping industry as a whole, providing a more accurate way to track packages and ensure accurate picking and order fulfilment to final delivery.
1-D barcodes are widely utilized due to a few distinct advantages:
They enable efficient operations
They are inexpensive
They allow for more accurate inventory management compared to manual inventory methods
They can increase a company’s profitability by reducing manual labour costs, improving inventory control, and speeding up the supply chain
Advantages of 2-D Barcodes
Unlike the standard 1-D barcode, 2-D barcodes, or QR codes, can store information in two directions (horizontally and vertically), while 1D barcodes can only store information in one direction (horizontally). This allows them to hold much more information. A 1-D barcode can typically store about 20 to 25 characters unless leveraging the GS1 global standard coding method.
The QR code bridges the gap between the digital and physical worlds. Not only can it store more than 4,000 characters, the QR code is also easily accessible. Since 2006, nearly 100% of smartphones are capable of scanning QR codes, providing opportunities for companies to connect and share information with consumers.
2-D barcode advantages include:
Considered more secure, as the information they store is easily encrypted and allows for less room for error
Can hold more information than a 1-D, are also a space-saving solution when needed to provide ready access to product specifications, instruction manuals, or procedures but lack the room for larger labels and signage on the item
Ease of use for consumers - open phone, point camera and instantly get all the information about a product
As 2-D barcodes become even more prominent in consumer-facing applications, companies are able to track their customer behaviour, as the company can track what time of day and part of the country a code was scanned and what the next purchasing decision was made for that product
However, with both 1-D and 2-D barcodes, there needs to be a line of sight between the product barcode and the reading device and adequate light. Radio-Frequency Identification or RFID is able to overcome this problem as the receiving scanner device is able to pick up an electronic transmitted signal.
Advantages of RFID
RFID can automate data capture, tracking, and locating while eliminating the need to manually scan labels. RFID uses radio waves to store and remotely retrieve information from tags placed on anything you want to identify, track, and locate. Each tag contains a radio chip and dual antennas, along with a unique identifying number. That unique ID is matched up with the same number in an electronic database, which contains all the necessary information about the tagged asset.
Tags can be active and send out a signal to be pinged by the receiver periodically or tags can be passive and just be detected by the reader. By using a handheld RFID reader or a fixed reader that detects tags as they pass by, a tagged item can be identified and located remotely, almost instantaneously.