Bar Codes for Unit Level Tracking & Traceability

Bar code identification on unit level items is becoming increasingly more important as tracking and traceability of items in the market place is no longer a choice but a requirement for many industries.

Each industry has unique challenges when it comes to product identification, compliance labeling, warranty tracking, inventory management, and lot traceability for recalls at the unit level.

The data required for each application varies and can change as it goes through production, inventory relocation or the supply chain. Knowing how you will use the data will be crucial in determining what data, how to best store the data, and make changes.

Some applications requiring large amounts of data are using the Data Matrix symbology designed to pack a lot of information in a very small space. Electronics, automotive, aeronautical and military applications make use of the 2D code’s ability to encode approximately fifty characters of data in a symbol 2 or 3mm square and the fact that the code can be read with only a 20 percent contrast ratio. Such database markings are necessary when that data must follow the piece where computerized databases are neither available nor practical.

However, some applications are better suited using a License Plate Number (LPN) which indexes a complete file record for that piece within a networked, real time computer data base. The data is then available in real time and can be further updated with valuable data long after the initial LPN marking is done.

Although each of these applications may be different, there is one common element – that’s the label.

Your label, no matter how small or large, paper, polyester, or Kapton®, round, square or die cut templates, matte or gloss, white or full-color, has to meet YOUR requirements and perform in YOUR environment.

There are many sizes, shapes, materials, top coating, adhesives and different combinations of labels to choose from. Experienced label manufacturers can help you select and test labels or make labels to fit exactly where you need them, even the smallest of places, irregular shapes and to adhere to rough, greasy, wet or frozen surfaces.

What to Watch Out For…

Should these labels fail, and valuable information is lost forever, you have a problem and an unhappy customer.

Not only is choosing the right shape, size, material, top coating and adhesive critical to preventing label failure, printing your label plays a role in your success.

Your thermal transfer ribbon must be carefully matched to the label stock for crisp, scannable bar code output. Most times, the durability of the print is important to withstand abrasion during shipment and harsh processing environments.

Choose a vendor who specializes in all aspects of the label, understands your application and can help you test the label’s performance up front. A vendor with experience in your industry can help make the ordering of your labels easy even when what goes on behind the scenes is quite complex. Doing it right the first time will avoid costly mistakes down the road. There is no substitute for experience, reliability and the ability to support your application throughout the entire bar code and labeling process.

WincoID has been creating innovative label and bar code solutions since 1980. We specialize in the manufacturing, electronics, healthcare, and defense industries. As a manufacturer of labels at our Nashua, NH location, WincoID delivers custom labels, preprinted labels, as well as our inhouse printing service to handle all our customer’s labeling needs and time tables.

Call today to discuss your labeling with WincoID at 603-598-1553.

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