Why Use 2D Barcode Scanners

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By now you are probably familiar with 2D barcodes, such as the ubiquitous QR code, if not by name, then by sight. You are probably even using QR codes for your business (and if you aren’t,  you should be.) While QR codes can be easily read by most cell phones and mobile devices, they are not the only 2D barcodes. The others require specialized 2D barcode scanners. You may be wondering why use the 2D barcodes that need a scanner if you can just use easily readable QR codes, but there are many good reasons to be using 2D barcodes paired with a 2D barcode scanner. Many manufacturers are now using 2D barcodes because they provide functionality and efficiency that cannot be achieved with linear 1D barcodes or the popular 2D QR code.

Below are 7 reasons you should be using 2D barcode scanners for your small business:

1. Increased efficiency and reduced human error

Entering data by hand into spreadsheets and databases or a pen and paper system is time-consuming and error prone. Once errors are made they are almost impossible to catch until the time comes that you need to find an item and can’t, which is the worst time to be burdened with the time-consuming task of locating the missing item. Small businesses that switch from manual systems to barcode scanners can save hours or even weeks of human labor and see immediate reductions in errors and time spent finding inventory or assets.


“Maintaining an accurate inventory count on Excel was time consuming and error ridden,” said Huffaker.


As Paul Huffaker from Racesource Inc. explains, “Maintaining an accurate inventory count on Excel was time consuming and error ridden,” said Huffaker. “Often I would reorder or manufacture parts I already had simply because I didn’t know I had them, which was an unnecessary cost.

2. 2D barcode scanners can scan both 1D and 2D barcodes

Using a 2D barcode scanner means your company is ready for the future, but still able to work with the past. You can use your new 2D barcode scanners to read your old 1D barcodes and they can work with your suppliers or customers who still use 1D barcodes. One of the big benefits of 2D barcode scanners is that they can also read the new 2D barcodes. This means your company can move into the future but won’t have to overhaul its old system or demand new barcodes from old suppliers, clients, or customers.

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3. The cost of 2D barcode scanners has dropped considerably

iStock_000016762814_DoubleWhile 2D barcodes used to be significantly more expensive than 1D barcodes they no longer are. The price of 2D barcode scanners are now comparable to 1D barcode scanners as well as affordable barcode scanning solutions that include 2D barcode scanners.

The reduction in cost means that 2D barcode scanners and the inventory and asset management systems that use them can pay for themselves even quicker. Investing in an effective 2D barcode system saves time and reduces inventory and asset loses and in many cases quickly pays for itself.

“Wasp software has allowed us to track where everything is at all times,” explains Nathan Miller, Team Command at The University of Iowa’s EMS Student Interest Organization (UIEMSSIO). “We are able to use our mobile computers at both locations, the student center and a storage room across campus. The use of our supplies is automatically tracked to the central computer; this is a drastic improvement over manually writing everything down and transferring it to Google Docs.”

4. Increased mobility and wireless connectivity

Many 2D barcode scanners, like Wasp Barcode’s, can connect to cell phones, mobile devices, and computers equipped with Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit data. This means you don’t have to deal with corded devices that can be cumbersome to carry and in some cases make it difficult to reach certain items. This can also save time as there is no longer a need to update your database from information stored on a scanner, it is immediately added to your system.


Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Barcodes

“Wasp software has allowed us to track where everything is at all times,” explains Nathan Miller, Team Command at The University of Iowa’s EMS Student Interest Organization (UIEMSSIO). “We are able to use our mobile computers at both locations, the student center and a storage room across campus. The use of our supplies is automatically tracked to the central computer; this is a drastic improvement over manually writing everything down and transferring it to Google Docs.”

5. Can be customized to capture the data you want

Using 2D barcodes, which can contain much more data than a traditional linear 1D barcode allows users to customize the data captured and the way it is stored. This increases the ability of organizations to achieve their specific goals and create a database catered to their needs.

Rodney Coe, Systems Manager for KDL Pathology explains, “We selected WaspLabeler +2D because it had all of the features we were looking for at a cost that was well within our budget,” said Coe. “The best feature that Wasp provided was the ability to store serial numbers for labeling in a database to be reviewed at another time. Other options provided serial numbers when you printed the label, but once you closed the program, you lost the number.”

“The FDA mandated that all vendors of medications must add a barcode, but they didn’t mandate the quality of the barcode,” said Gary Pollock MS, RN, MT(ASCP), Pharmacy Systems Administrator at Clark Memorial Hospital. “Sometimes a barcode is wrapped around a tiny vial, and the curvature of the vial prevents our scanner from reading the 1D linear barcode. Others are printed on paper that doesn’t carry crisp, readable barcodes or they have reflective foil that makes the code difficult to read.”

6. Increased functionality and versatility

Using 2D barcode scanners significantly increases what you can do with your barcode scanner. Traditional 1D barcode scanners can only scan 1D barcodes one at a time and often from only one angle. This can make scanning items complicated and difficult and in some cases impossible.

2D barcode scanners work omnidirectional which means they can scan from any angle and this helps a lot when you need to reach items that are on shelves or stored in tight or odd locations. The 2D barcode scanners also can scan multiple barcodes in one scan, this means you could scan 4 barcodes with one reading and get information on an item’s serial number, part number, lot, and date. Additionally 2D scanners can scan from screens, like smartphones, which can be useful for couponing and ticketed events.

7. Design it to work with your needs from ads to small products

Traditional linear 1D barcodes are long and need a straight flat surface. This works fine for products in a grocery store or traditional packaging, but might not be right for the kind of products you need to inventory. 2D barcodes can be made in a variety of formats. They can be small if you need them to. Or if you want to create branded barcodes for advertisements or logos they can also be designed with colors. This flexibility allows you to create the barcode you need and doesn’t force you to use the barcode you have.

“The FDA mandated that all vendors of medications must add a barcode, but they didn’t mandate the quality of the barcode,” said Gary Pollock MS, RN, MT(ASCP), Pharmacy Systems Administrator at Clark Memorial Hospital. “Sometimes a barcode is wrapped around a tiny vial, and the curvature of the vial prevents our scanner from reading the 1D linear barcode. Others are printed on paper that doesn’t carry crisp, readable barcodes or they have reflective foil that makes the code difficult to read.”

Using 2D barcodes and 2D barcodes scanners will give your business an accurate and easy way to track the inventory and assets that your business relies on every day.  They are a versatile tool that will start saving time and money almost instantly.

How would 2D barcode scanners help your business?

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Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo is a Product Marketing Manager at Informatics specializing in Inventory Warehouse Management and Supply Chain product lines. His nearly 15 years of experience has put him at the forefront of industry technology and developing trends.