THE BARCODE EXPERTS
Several major UK retailers are now looking into the possible use of GS1 DataBar symbols at the retail point of sale, as these barcodes can encode more information alongside the GTIN to help manage stock more efficiently. This could, for example, be an expiry date, a batch or serial number, a weight, or a price.
Axicon has provided help to a fresh produce supplier which is working with one of the UK’s grocery retailers to use GS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked symbols on its fresh meat products.
The challenge was to investigate how best to encode the product’s expiry date and batch number alongside its GTIN in a scannable barcode. All of this information was to be in a barcode to replace a conventional EAN-13 symbol.
“The use of GS1 DataBar symbols on this type of product means that the scanning system can record the expiry date automatically, and use this information to improve stock management,” explains Brian Robarts of Axicon. “Capturing the batch number automatically is also important to the integrity of the retailer’s traceability system.”
Encoding the expiry date and batch number of an item in its barcode means that the barcode must be printed on demand, and at high enough speeds not to slow down the production line. The supplier was using four-colour pre-printed direct thermal labels that needed to be overprinted with the correct barcode, which would ideally take up as little space as possible.
The best solution was found by printing these barcodes vertically at the smallest size allowed by the GS1 General Specifications – an x-dimension of 0.25mm using a 12 dpmm (300 dpi printhead). Tests showed that the direct thermal labels could be overprinted at a speed of 100mm/second, and then applied automatically onto the products.
The finished barcodes are virtually the same size as the EAN-13s they replaced,
with a width of 27mm and height of 27mm.