Recently, we discussed ANSI grades for barcodes. In order to determine how well a barcode will perform, a number of measurements are executed by a verifier to determine the final grade of the symbol. While a grade of C or better is passing, it is possible that there may still be issues with a barcode that makes the grade.
Sometimes a passing ANSI grade barcode could fail an industry standard, such as the GS1 applications standard. While the barcode itself may be a valid symbol, sometimes the Application Identifiers (AIs), which define the purpose of the data and how it should be used, are in the wrong location or missing altogether. In addition, there are often problems with the Family Code being invalid.
Errors such as these are not usually included in the ANSI verification process, but sometimes they are, which leads to non-uniformity within the industry. Such variants almost defeat the purpose of standards, allowing for guessing and inconsistency.
Often times, these variants are symbology specific. For example the frequently used UPC symbology has different variants for different industries such as books, coupons and music, just to name a few. While the generic UPC may meet all of the ANSI guidelines, that same barcode could fail an industry specific parameter if the verifier used does not check for industry specific applications.
In order to prevent such problems, it’s important to invest in a good verifier that will check for industry specific problems.
ANSI, or American National Standard Institute, oversees the creation, circulation and use of thousands of guidelines that impact businesses in nearly every market. Thus, guidelines for barcodes have been established by the ANSI in order to measure barcode print quality. These guidelines and measurements, often referred to ANSI verification, are now relied on as a basis for ensuring compliance because the verification process addresses almost all aspects of print quality that would affect barcode scanning.
The original ANSI “Barcode Print Quality Guideline” was published in 1900 and established a specific procedure for measuring barcode quality, providing a standard measurement methodology and defining eight categories of print quality that should be measured.
The measurements are based on a scale of 0-4 and expressed as a letter grade (A,B,C,D or F), based on the guidelines stated in each category. A grade of C or better should be able to scan on almost any material the first time, but since better quality labels scan more easily, some package purchasers require a grade of B or better. These ANSI guidelines were adopted by the UCC (Uniform Code Council) and applied to the UPC, which required that a ninth criterion be added to check the quiet zones.
The primary benefit of the ANSI verification is that since the standards are so closely related to the way scanners work, they are able to consistently predict the scannability of a barcode. Since almost all aspects of print quality that affect scanning are measured, ANSI verification is the main form of communication between producers and users of printed barcodes.
The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, recently approved a new set of standards from the Health Industry Business Communications Council for using RFID tags to label and track medical products.
ANSI/HIBC 4.0, the new decided upon standard, provides guidelines for tagging healthcare products in a way that will prevent RFID interference with medical devices, which had previously been causing some major issues. In fact, in a June 2008 Journal of American Medical Association study, it was found that ultra-high frequency tagging interfered with the operation of electronic medical devices in almost 63% of the cases tested.
Since a smaller read range is less likely to interfere with medical devices, the council’s new standards recommend that healthcare products be tagged with 13.56mhz high-frequency coding.
Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, refers to the structured transmission of data from organization to organization through electronic means. This could be to transfer electronic documents from one computer system to another and refers to a family of standards. EDI is primarily based upon ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), and focuses on formatted single messages rather than the whole sequence of conditions and exchanges that make up inter-organizational processes. Because of this EDI also implies a sequence of messages between two parties, having formatted data that represents the document. With EDI, these messages are communicated by computer to computer, rather than having human intervention.
Since EDI is considered to be a technical representation of a business conversation between two computers, it often describes the rigorously standardized format of these electronic documents. Because of this, it is important to have strict standards. EDI standards were designed to be independent of software and communication technologies. In 2002, the IETF published RFC 3335, which offered a standardized, secure method of transferring EDI data via e-mail.
The four major sets of EDI standards are as follows:
- The UN recommended UN/EDIFACT is the only international standard and is predominant outside of North America.
- The US standard ANSI ASC X12 is primarily used in North America
- TRADACOMS standards are used in the UK retail industry
- ODETTE standards are used in the European automotive industry.
Typically, EDI documents contain the same information that would be found in a paper document of the same function. For example, an EDI 940 ship-from-warehouse order is used by a manufacturer to tell a warehouse to ship the product to a retailer. This contains a shipping address, billing addres, a list of product numbers in the form of a UPC barcode, and quantities. However, EDI is used across all industries, not just in warehousing applications.