More about Bar Code Labels

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Bar codes are visual representations of alphanumeric characters designed to be read by a scanner. Bar codes consist of a series of adjacent parallel lines, whose spacing and width determines the nature of the stored data. First introduced by the grocery industry in the 1970s, the bar code labeling system has become fundamental to a variety of industries. Emerging from the Universal Product Code (UPC) system, which designates a standardized number to each specific product in a grocery store, bar code labeling provides numerous advantages to indexing, itemizing and tracking.

First and foremost, bar code labeling allows retailers to keep precise inventory of stock. Modern bar code scanners also enable faster checkout, as well as offering an ideal means to track customer trends. Each time a product with a bar code is purchased and scanned, the data is stored by the scanning system. This system is directly linked to an inventory and tracking database. Whenever a product is purchased, the information is fed to the inventory listing, where the correlating change is made. Although this may not sound like a difficult task, it saves a tremendous amount of work hours. Each bar code directly represents a specific product, meaning that the time it might take to list a “12-pack box of holiday-giveaway Diet Coke cans” is achieved with a simple swipe through a laser. In the early stages of the UPC system, the savings associated with the new system offset its massive equipment and retraining costs within less than a year for most grocery stores. Today, it saves them incredible sums of money, provides an ideal means for rewards programs, and yields near-perfect marketing data.

Bar code labeling is no less effective for other industries. Retailers, of course, share the same benefits as those achieved by grocery stores. But heavy industry and manufacturers can also profit from the system. In fact, the Army uses massive barcode labels for numerous heavy equipment storage applications. Modern shipping could not exist without barcodes, which allow any package to be tracked across the world. The volume of packages exchanged each day would be impossible to match without an effective cataloging and tracking system.

There are numerous bar code labeling options available to companies. Bar codes can be printed on, etched in or adhered to virtually any surface. Thermal transfer printing equipment enables business to apply labels to existing stock. Professional printers can designate correct bar codes for inventory, and provide a complete range of printing options. These include labels able to withstand harsh environmental conditions, micro-labels, FDA approved labels, metal labels and much more. Manufacturers can purchase software that enables them to generate their own bar codes in any systems. Programmers also supply all manner of custom linked inventory and tracking database software.

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