Why is ISO Compliance Important in Bar Code Verifiers?

First of all, what does it mean when bar code verifiers  are ISO compliant? It means the test device has been independently tested and shown to be operating within stated hardware specifications and operating tolerances. The bar code symbol itself has a set of attributes that define its reflective properties, the range of defects it can tolerate, the minimum acceptable amount of contrast between bar and space or background color, etc. Bar code verifiers must be able to test the bar code symbol for these attributes; therefore the verifier itself must also be able to comply with specifications which define its performance.

Not all bar code verifiers are ISO compliant–why is that? *

Surprisingly not all bar code verifiers are ISO compliant. This is concealed by the fact that all verifiers utilize the ANSI/ISO grading methodology. This makes everybody look like they are ANSI/ISO compliant. It is also concealed by the painfully careful word-smithing in the data sheets of certain brands. In addition, at least one verifier brand is not a purpose-built device—it is an adaptation of a scanner. Therefore it is probably incapable of being ISO compliant due to design and performance limitations for which software alone cannot adequately compensate.  Hand held, gun-type scanning devices are by definition not ISO compliant because they do not operate at a fixed focal length. Bar code verifiers which “do not require calibration” (cannot be checked and re-set for reference reflectance) by the user are not, by definition, ISO compliant. Devices which only test one ISO parameter such as decodability are not fully ISO compliant.

Why does this matter? There are many important reasons. The least important reason is the retail point of sale and the inconvenience of a poorly performing bar code in the checkout line. Of course that does not go unnoticed and eventually triggers a sequence of events that can lead to fines and worse.

ISO compliant bar code verifiers can protect you against supply chain fines–and much worse *

The most important reason for bar code verifiers to be ISO compliant is the potentially life-threatening  consequences of a poorly performing bar code in pharmaceutical distribution and drug dispensing, where the bar code is the last line of defense at the patient bedside.

The ISO methodology is meaningless if the verifier cannot comply. Now imagine yourself in a situation where the non-compliant verifier was your bar code test device in a situation where somebody was injured or killed because a bar code on a prescription medication did not perform as intended. The blame game is on. Who is at fault?

ISO compliant bar code verifiers are accurate and reliable *

In a climate where there is unrelenting pressure on resources of all kinds, where would you rather be in this situation? When the liability witch hunt is on, do you want to be in a position where you have to defend not only your reputation, your company and your career, but your tools as well? ISO compliant bar code verifiers assure you that your test results are accurate and reliable.

ISO conformance is where bar code reliability begins. Proper calibration and use of the verifier is also important, but without an ISO compliant device, there is virtually no defense in a blame game. If a vendor was willing to cut corners there, where else have they been willing to put the customer at risk, and all for the saving of a few dollars.

John Nachtrieb

About John Nachtrieb

Mr. Nachtrieb has 30+ years of hands-on experience in barcode technology. His team imaged the film master for the first commercially scanned barcode in North America (1974). His specialty is barcode quality. He created and hosts a highly customized barcode quality seminar which has been presented to 100's of companies, reaching thousands of quality-concerned people, helping them to avoid barcode problems and manage barcode-related risk.
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