2D Barcodes for Production Managers

Here’s what you need to know to streamline the transition to 2D barcodes.

What Production Managers need to know about 2D barcodes

The 2D barcode can hold a large amount of data in a small space, and can be scanned by consumers’ smartphones. It’s important to implement the right in-line printing equipment and software for 2D barcodes, and to perform regular checks as part of standard operating procedure to ensure the symbols can be scanned throughout the supply chain.

2D barcodes are equipped with built-in error protection keeping data intact and readable even when the code is scratched, ripped, or marked through.

 

How to Transition to 2D Barcodes

 

Pick a pilot product, line, or category

Pilot the process on a single product, product line, or category before rolling it out across all product lines.

 

Update in-line printing equipment

Ensure software, hardware and databases are updated to source and add data that needs to be printed.

In some cases the encoded data is no more than a GTIN, and barcodes can still be printed on pack before packaging.

However, other use cases will need the 2D barcode to be printed with packaging to allow for the variable data (e.g. expiry date, serial number, batch/lot code). This will require in-line printing.

You may already have experience printing variable data in line, with human-readable batch/lot numbers and use-by dates. However, 2D barcodes may still require updates to in-line printing systems.

Talk to Matthews Australasia about which equipment will best fit your printing and labelling needs.

 

Implement quality assurance processes

Incorporate a 2D barcode quality plan as a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) within the business:

  • Data validation: If 2D barcodes are being applied with variable data, you need to implement practices to ensure the data is validated. This means checking the encoded data in the 2D barcodes is correct and up to date, including expiry date, batch/lot codes etc.
  • Print quality: Check the print quality of the symbol on a regular basis and introduce barcode checks as part of your standard operating procedure.
    When printing any barcode to a label, print a horizontal line around 3mm above the barcode symbol across the print width. This allows operators to physically see faults with the printhead when the labels are being printed.
  • Perform continuous maintenance of the printing infrastructure to get good quality print every time. A scheduled printhead clean is recommended once every label change or on a scheduled basis.

Talk to Matthews Australasia about scheduled maintenance for your printing and labelling equipment.

2D Barcode Checklist

  • Ensure high quality 2D barcodes for scanning:
    • Use high-speed digital printing technology – find out how Matthews Australasia can help
    • Ensure your label stock is non-glossy. Matte stock is preferred for products kept in refrigerated environments.
    • Check barcode contrast.
  • Print 2D barcodes at the right size.
    • The size of the symbol should be determined by your printing process and based on the Dots Per Inch (DPI) of your printer (recommended 300 DPI or higher).
    • The target size for DataMatrix is 0.625 or 0.750 X-dimension, with 22 rows x 22 columns in a square format.
  • Test your 2D barcodes.
    • To ensure your barcodes scan first time, every time, submit your label samples for a GS1 Barcode Check. This is mandatory if you are supplying items to Woolworths as you need to check the correct AI’s and data have been encoded in each 2D barcode. Speak to GS1 Australia for help with barcode verification.

FAQs

Do I need 2D barcodes?

It depends on the product information you want to share on pack. If there is no need to add additional machine-readable data (such as batch/lot number or use-by date), changing to 2D barcodes is not needed.

All brands need to include, at a minimum, the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) in every barcode on pack if it will be scanned by consumers or at retail POS.

How do I get started?

Start discussions with solution providers early. They can recommend and help guide you towards the right coding, labelling or data capture solution for your needs, which will ensure a smooth transition for all involved.

What is the GS1 Barcode Verification program?

To ensure your barcodes scan first time, every time, you can submit your label samples for a GS1 Barcode Check.

GS1 Australia tests a range of factors including compliance to global standards, size, colour, print quality, numbering and more. Once tested, you will receive a Barcode Verification Report indicating the compliance of your barcode and any changes you may need to make.

This report is mandatory if you are supplying items to Woolworths to confirm the correct AI’s and data have been encoded in each 2D barcode. Speak to GS1 Australia for help with barcode verification.