The Importance of Barcode Scanning Consistency


Barcode ConfusionPick up and look at any package you have received recently from a parcel carrier. Pay attention to the labels and the barcodes that appears on them.

Now, look at a package from a different carrier. One thing you will probably notice is that the carriers usually have a different number of labels on their packages. Additionally, each carrier’s placement of most labels on the package also differs. You might see additional differences, for example, some carrier’s packages will have 2D barcodes while others only have 1D barcodes.

Here is something that you won’t necessarily be able to tell by simply looking at the packages. Except for one or two barcodes on the package, the others are not directly related to the tracking ID used to identify the package.

This is important to be aware of. In order to successfully track packages, your staff must consistently scan the correct barcode for each carrier. If they don’t, here is a scenario that may inevitably occur.

Let’s say one of your staff members logs a package in the morning by scanning a barcode on it. Later, a different staff member scans the same package but uses a different barcode. Your staff will have now processed the same package two times. However, your records won’t reflect this. Instead, you will have records for having processed two unrelated items and one of those records won’t be related to an identifiable tracking ID! Not only will your records lack the full chain of custody for the package but tracking this package will also be extremely difficult.

If you are new to package tracking, this is a scenario you can easily find yourself in, especially if multiple staff members play a role in the package handling. However, with a few precautions, the problem can be easily prevented. Here are two suggestions to help:

  • Staff training. Provide your staff with training for proper package logging. Visually identify the barcode that you want them to scan on the package for each carrier. By identifying the position of the barcode on the package you want them to scan, they will start to become more aware of carrier label differences and less likely to scan a different barcode on the package. Make this as simple as possible by only identifying one target barcode per carrier package. It is important for general tracking purposes that you choose a barcode that contains the carrier’s tracking ID (you can verify this by scanning the barcode yourself, looking at the text displayed after scanning it and making sure the text read is the tracking Id or has the tracking ID embedded in it).
  • TekTrack configuration. The TekTrack software can be configured to validate barcodes scanned by your staff and can notify them when they scan the wrong ones. If you are using the TekTrack Automation module, you can take this even further and provide your staff with custom error messages depending on the barcodes that they scan.

Implement one or both of the solutions as early as possible in your package processing to ensure reliable package tracking. Best of luck with your package tracking!

Choosing the Best Barcode Scanner For Your Package Tracking

Barcode Scanner vs Barcode App

We regularly receive inquiries from people interested in using a cell phone camera and app for processing package barcodes. Often times, they have been given the impression that a barcode app and the camera on their cell phone will perform as efficiently as a laser barcode scanner while saving them the cost of additional hardware. If you are researching which technology will best suit your package tracking needs, here are 3 things you should consider:

  • Reading barcodes with a camera requires the same factors as taking a picture. While the camera image will be interpreted as a barcode, the image generating process itself has the same requirements as taking a family picture. Lighting is an important element with cameras for any purpose. Most importantly, you will need to keep the camera steady for the barcode to be in focus so it will be read. Laser barcode scanners do not have these requirements.
  • Distance. What is the furthest distance packages will be when you scan them? Do you need to scan packages placed on different height shelves or scan packages that are loaded on pallets? Camera-driven barcode apps require barcodes to be within 6 inches to be read. Laser scanners, based on model, can read barcodes up to 50 feet away.
  • Speed. How restricted is your time for processing packages? Most laser barcode scanners are capable of reading 100 or more packages a second, much faster than humanly possible to perform. Scanning parcels with a laser scanner has an average processing time of 10 seconds per package during the typical package receiving process. Camera apps usually take an average of 90 seconds per package in the same workflow, the larger time being primarily due to the factors named above.

When choosing between the two technologies, you should factor in the volume of packages you receive to determine which technology will be most appropriate for you. If you receive small quantities of packages daily, the barcode app will be sufficient for your needs. If you receive higher volumes of packages a day or have limited time for package logging, the laser scanner is going to result in the fastest operations. Until next time!

The Return of the Package Tracking Software Blog

Welcome! In response to your requests, we are happy to announce that we are reinstating our package tracking blog in time for our upcoming TekTrack release. This blog will continue to focus on the in-and-outs of package tracking systems and related barcode and hardware technologies. Our aim to provide insight that helps both novice and experts alike and will cover everything from how to choose a package tracking software system to ways to improve efficiency with your existing barcode technologies. Keep an eye open for special guest bloggers who will appear from time to time and share their expert views from their own point of view. Until the next post, please visit the TekCore web site for additional information about the TekTrack package tracking software system!