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!



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