Barcode systems are in use these days in many industries. A barcode system has three important elements. These include Origin, reader, and computer or an operating system.
A source of barcodes and the way to read them should be present for a barcode system. The barcodes are printed on labels by a barcode printer. They may be of two types that include pre-printed labels and printed-on-demand labels. Pre-printed barcodes are those which are printed beforehand or in advance. It is one of the most economical way for getting high-quality barcodes. Barcodes on packaging, seen in most retail and grocery stores are one of the examples of pre-printed barcodes.
The other type is printed-on demand barcodes. These are used only when the code must contain some information that is available only when the code is generated. Some of the barcode printers which are used for such type include dedicated barcode printers like direct thermal and thermal transfer printers; laser and ink jet printers; and label printers. Zebra printers provide all types of printers that are required for both pre-printed and printed-on-demand barcodes.
The barcodes have to be read by a system to put them into computer. The reader is the device or instrument which scans the barcode, a decoder for converting the symbology to ASCII text, and a cable for connecting the device to a computer.
The input devices are variable based on the type of symbology used. Wands, CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) readers, laser scanners, fixed-mount laser scanners, slot scanners and combination scanners are some of the barcode scanners of general use.
Once a scanner technology is decided, the computer system has to be designed. Many configurations of these systems are available and used in different applications. The basic system types include single user, multi-user, local area network, and portable systems. Some applications are used with only one particular system type. However, most applications help in selecting the system that best meets the cost and performance requirements.