With the increased demand for asset information to be accessible (and validated) regularly, inventory tracking software and barcodes have become necessary for companies to keep up in today’s market.
On top of the consumer demand, there are many advantages of using barcodes in your outdoor asset identification. Using scanning devices to read barcodes not only reduces the amount of human error in your record-keeping, but it makes the task of asset inventory faster and more efficient.
Before you adopt barcodes in your asset ID program, keep the following in mind:
1. Barcodes must have high resolution
You want the corners of the bars and letters that make up your barcode to be crisp and not rounded. The resolution of the barcodes should be a minimum of 300 dpi (1,000 dpi is ideal).
2. Don’t accept barcodes if they have voids
Voids can occur when there are errors during the printing process, or when fading occurs over time. These voids break the bar lines in the code, making it unreadable. Even voids that seem minor will disrupt scanning.
3. Marker materials must be tested to withstand UV-exposure
When your application requires a durable outdoor solution, this point is especially important. Demand that your label materials have proven test results that show resistance to UV degradation.
4. Barcodes must lie flat
When laminates and base films are improperly matched, they often will curl. Curling can cause the marker to lift from the adhered surface, making the barcode difficult/impossible to read. Using thicker liners, adhesives and base films reduce the potential of curling.
5. Make sure your barcodes match with the reading equipment
Although seemingly obvious, all too often barcoded assets are created only for people to discover later that their barcodes aren’t compatible with the scanners. Match the minimum bar width with the aperture of the scanner.
6. Insist on “smooth” fonts
Avoid coarse, jagged fonts and opt for smoother options.
7. Have barcode labels created with a back slit liner
Even the most nimble-fingered linemen have a hard time removing back liner from a label without a peel tab or back slit. It’s best to use a heavy liner.
All of these considerations are fundamental to your barcodes functioning as expected. However, keep in mind that your barcodes are only as reliable as the material they’re printed on.
Barcode solutions in action
For nearly all of our outdoor barcoded applications, Metalphoto® makes the most sense. It’s abrasion, chemical and UV resistant and can last 30+ years in harsh environments.
Unlike barcodes made with surface printed inks, Metalphoto barcodes are embedded within the material. Which means it’ll last the life of most utility assets.
Newberry Electric Cooperative needed a durable pole and transmission tower marker that would last the duration of their asset and support on-the-spot customer monitoring and automated ID capturing.
Electromark suggested Metalphoto because it is the longest lasting identification material that will support a barcode and is warranted for 30 years.
Electromark partnered with Newberry Electric Co-Op to create a 10.5” x 1” Metalphoto pole and transmission tag with a QR code at the top and a barcode at the bottom. Once scanned, the QR code links the customers to the Newberry website so they can report any outages.
The Electromark Advantage
It’s essential to discuss with your asset ID manufacturer what type of application and environment your barcoded assets will be exposed to and for how long. These factors will determine what material would be best for your application.
Here at Electromark, we can add a barcode or QR code to any of the label materials we offer, including Metalphoto. If you’re unsure on what would work for your application, our application engineer can help figure out the best option for your project.
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