EMP Tech Tips

Choosing the Right Barcode Scanner

Choosing the right barcode scanner for your application can be a bit confusing. Let us help you decide which scanner is right for you!

First, you can break the answers down into these categories.

  • 1D only or 1D and 2D Scanner
  • Corded or Cordless
  • Presentation or Handheld
  • Industrial or Commercial
  • Paper Based Bar Code or Direct Part Mark
  • Long Range vs Short Range


1D only or 1D and 2D Scanner

For a few years now, we have been advocating for only purchasing imager-based barcode scanners in order to future proof your purchase.  You may only be scanning 1D barcodes today, but inevitably, you will have a requirement to scan 2D at some point down the road.  Not to mention the fact that 1D barcodes scan much faster and without the needed orientation between the bar code and scanner that 1D only scanners require.

Corded or Cordless

Corded or cordless is fairly self-evident, if your scanning station does not have all of the barcodes in your hand and you are having to walk away from the PC in order to scan, cordless is the way to go.

Presentation or Handheld

The one that many people do not think about is presentation scanners.  Many times, it is far better to just hold the bar code under a stationary scanner to read to the code without having to pick a scanner up.  To sweeten the deal, a high-speed conveyor line scanner can be used, and you can practically just walk the barcode under the scanner to get it to read the code.  One customer was so happy with this approach, he commented that you just need to get the barcode in the same room with the scanner and it scans.

Industrial or Commercial

Industrial vs commercial is not always an obvious choice.  Scanning in a freezer or outdoors makes the decision easy for Industrial.  Scanning in an office environment makes commercial-grade the obvious choice.  But there is a lot of middle ground between those two and sometimes the customer’s appetite to spend a little more for a scanner that will not ever break down is the deciding factor.

Paper-Based Bar Code or Direct Part Mark

Direct part mark scanners are not an easy decision.  There is a good, better, best decision to be made there and the cost difference per scanner is drastic.  Sometimes, the decision can only be made after testing a few scanners to see how much scanning horsepower is needed to read your direct part mark.  Also, just being able to read it on a good day is not the way to go.  Laser markers and dot peen will degrade over time.  Metal surfaces can be somewhat clean in one batch, but a little textured or even corroded the next.  Getting a DPM scanner that reads your marks even on a bad day is what is needed.  On the other hand, we have gone into applications where a very expensive scanner was recommended to the customer only to find out that a lower end reader would easily do the job.

Long Range vs Short Range

In the past few years, long range scanners have become capable of reading short range as well.  It used to be that you had to have long arms to get a long-range scanner to read a small bar code.  Recently however, Zebra has added a short-range scanner to their long-range unit.  The scanner does both at the same time, ensuring that you can read that high rack barcode from a long distance as well as the small barcode up close, both working very well, scanning quickly.  Battery life is the only downside, but todays batteries are so good, you will not notice the difference.  There is also a rare case that requires the ability to scan very tiny barcodes, this is mostly in laboratory environments, scanning specimens.

Bottom line, you need an expert that will help you navigate this and someone you can trust.  We are your trusted source when choosing the right barcode scanner for your application.

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