How do I use a bar code reader

Using a bar code reader

There are several common types of bar code readers – one is the handheld scanner which you pick up and move toward the bar code.  The laser or CCD light will either be on all the time, or will come on as a result of a sensor detecting movement.  The beam of light will be scanning for a bar code. As soon as it finds one it will read it and then send the number of the code into the device it is attached to.

Another type of  bar code reader is a ‘fixed mount’ scanner.  This can be mounted into a counter top and items to be scanned are then moved over the top of it, or it can be a device that is mounted to project a horizontal beam and items are then moved in front of it.    One advantage of the incounter scanner is that both hands are free to process items, which is why supermarkets primarily use fixed mount scanners.    Some fixed mount scanners also include built-in scales.

A third type of bar code reader, no longer very popular, is the pen or wand.   This device is much like a large pen that is pressed to the bar code label and then dragged across. The wand can read in either direction.  Wands can only read 1 dimensional bar codes like Code 39, or UPC A.    These can be useful in offices where the bar codes are generally printed on paper documents.  Wands are the least expensive and take up little space.  As a rule, it is difficult to use a wand on a curved surface.    The technology used in wands may work well with black and white bar code labels, but not with color labels.

Here is an example of a 1 dimensional bar code.

The type of bar code reader you choose will depend upon a number of  factors including;

– price

– the type of computer or terminal the reader will have to be attached to (compatibility)

– the size of your retail counter and the need for speed or efficiency, or whether the bar code reader will be used in an office.   Bar code readers that will be used outside will also have special features including the ability to read bar codes in direct sunlight (think about glare), and weatherproofing.

– the type of products you sell  ( whether they are all small enough to be put on a counter, or maybe too big or too heavy to be put on the counter by a shopper).   Also the color of the printed bar code labels.  Certain technologies do not read brown or red labels well.

– the nature of your business, meaning the extent to which it is retail or service oriented.

For advice on the selection and installation of a bar code reader we recommend consulting with a local Value Added Reseller (VAR).

For more information on barcode readers click this link.

For information on barcodes and how they can be used in point of sale, click on this link

About the Author

Editorial Team is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry.We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.