Over the past few decades, bar code scanning has become the data capture technology of choice, enhancing processes in virtually every industry and market. Low-cost scanning solutions improve performance and reliability in a wide range of enterprise activities, and reap tremendous business benets, including increased worker productivity, improved task efciency, and reduced operational costs.
As scanning technology evolves and new bar code symbologies appear, industries have more choices in data capture solutions. This paper discusses two competing, and sometimes complementary, data capture devices: the laser scanner and the digital imager. We will provide an overview of the technology behind each device, list advantages for each, and discuss markets and applications in which they are used.
First, we need to understand the target of these data capture devices: the bar code. A bar code is a printed symbol placed on a package or an item of merchandise, consisting of vertical bars and spaces that represent information about that package or item. Bar code scanners or imagers scan, or read, the bar code and capture its encoded data. This data is then displayed for the operator on a connected device, such as a mobile computer or cash register, and/or sent to a centralized database for information storage.
The applications for bar codes are vast. They are used, for example, on retail sales items, ID cards, and books. They are also used to manage work in process, for package identication in delivery applications, and automated identication applications.
A symbology is a type, or “language,” of bar code. Each symbology has its own unique method of using bars and spaces to represent numeric or alphabetic digits. Laser scanners and digital imagers are programmed to decode, or understand, the specic symbologies used in their applications.