Corded Barcode Scanner Types
Point-and-Shoot versus Sit-And-Scan
When most people think of a barcode scanner, they think of a gun-type scanner that has a trigger. These are called "hand-held" barcode scanners. They're easy to operate - to scan a barcode; you point the scanner at the code, and pull the trigger. Handheld barcode scanners are programmed at the factory to "beep" and shut off the scan light when they read a good barcode.
In grocery and other retail applications, its often cumbersome for the operator to pick up the barcode scanner to scan items, set it down to complete the sale, then pick it up to scan again. Fixed barcode scanners are common in grocery and large retail chains. The cashier just puts the barcode into the scanner field-of-view, and the scanner does the rest. These types of barcode scanners are called "Fixed Scanners" because they're designed to stay in the same place and the barcodes are passed in front of them.
Fixed barcode scanners are also widely used in conveyor, packaging and shipping operations. Basically, the product passes in front of the scanner, the barcode scanned, and the data sent to a computer for processing.
Some barcode scanners combine elements of the hand-held scanner and the fixed scanner. This barcode scanner is designed to sit on the counter and will read barcodes passed in front of it, but it can also be picked up by the operator and has a button to operate in point-and-shoot mode. These scanners are excellent for use in convenience stores, gift shops and in kiosk installations.
For small retail applications with a combination of "point-and-shoot" and "sit-and-scan" requirements, manufactures now supply stands with their hand held barcode scanners. When placed in the stand and placed in "auto-sense" mode, these barcode scanners work without pulling the trigger.
Line up the lines or just scan
In most applications, the barcode scanner will be required to read 1-dimensional or linear barcodes. These barcodes have straight lines going up and down with white spaces between them. For an explanation of 1 and 2 dimensional barcodes click here.
The most common barcode scanners are linear or 1-dimensional barcode scanners. They project a line of red light. The operator must orient the line of scanner light perpendicular to the bars of the barcode, as in the following illustrations:
Often, you can speed up the scanning process by using an omni-directional barcode scanner. This type of scanner doesn't have a single red line that's projected from the scanner head. The scanner projects a "scan box", with a marker light for the center of the box and corner markers that denote the outside of the scanning zone. The omni-directional barcode scanner doesn't care how the barcode is oriented in order to scan it. See the following illustration:
We'll get into the technicalities of how omni-directional scanners work later on. The important thing to remember is that you can speed up the scanning process by moving from the common linear or 1-dimensional barcode scanner to an omni-directional barcode scanner. The latter is more expensive, but if you're in a scanning intensive environment, it will probably pay for itself by eliminating the time and effort require to "line-up" the barcode with a scan line.
That just about covers the most common way to get started with barcode scanners. Now let's get a little in depth, and look at how barcode scanners work .
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