Chances are you don’t pay too much attention to the barcode. It’s ubiquitous and likely a part of your everyday life. It’s a rare grocery or department store that doesn’t have bar codes on all of their products. With a simple swipe, the price and the item name are pulled up in a computer, the cashier gives you the price, you pay and the transaction is complete!
It was George Laurer who put the first UPC (universal product code aka barcode) on a grocery store item and since then their use has become almost universal.
The first item scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s gum. Bar codes of various types and shapes are used in business and commercial settings to make product cataloging, price setting and customer check-out a breeze. Gone are the days of grocery store owners having to individually mark the prices on items and then remove and remark them in the event of a price increase or sale. Today, because of the barcode, a single change is made in the computer to update a product price. That information is automatically transmitted to the barcode associated with the product so the new price is reflected at check-out.
Enhancing the automation at check-out is a definite benefit of using bar codes.
What exactly is a bar code? These are codes that are scanned and read by a machine and include information about the product to which it’s attached. Bar codes are typically visually represented in a series of vertical black lines and spaces.
Where can you find bar codes (other than grocery, home supply or department stores?) You will see bar codes on driver’s licenses, passports and other various forms of identification, documents and billings, vehicle and automobile inspection stickers, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and even on “contactless” credit cards. They are used everywhere and on everything.
Barcodes are also used in medical settings when nursing staff scan the identification bracelets of patients and then scan on the package of the medication they’re taking. The FDA recently approved a bar coded item about the size of a grain of rice that can be implanted under the skin of a human.
This device is useful if you’re facing a medical emergency because it allows first responders to scan the chip and “pull up” your medical history. These chips are akin to the microchips pet owners use to keep their pets safe.
Manufacturers use bar codes to help with production tracking, inventory management and distribution control.
We, at Griffin-Rutgers, provide printing, coding and marking solutions to manufacturers, commercial packagers and others in need of printing barcodes on labels, cartons, and pallets of products or directly onto the products themselves. How can we be of help to you?