When I started working here, I had no idea about the different scanning ranges offered on various barcode scanners and why different options were required. My assumption brought me to believe that the scanner or imager would simply work at any close range and scanning items at a distance was simply not in the cards. Man, was I wrong about that.
When it comes to barcode scanners, you typically have three scanning options.
I will break these down for you below and help you determine which may best fit your application.
“HD” or High Density Focus
- The main advantage of an HD scanner is that the focal plane is very close to the scanner window, allowing very small or tightly packed barcodes to be scanned in detail and decoded from there. The name of the game here revolves around the mil size of the barcode, which translates to whatever the smallest space between the lines element is. The smaller the space, the harder it is for most scanners to read, which makes the “HD” focus a perfect solution for this.
Pro: These are typically used in any size restricting application, such as the healthcare market or on computer circuit boards where barcodes are very small and often crowded with important information.
Con: Some areas where this would not be beneficial is if you had to scan a wide range of barcodes in various sizes as some of these barcodes will be too big to fit in the scanner’s focus.
Example: This is commonly seen in the healthcare industry as medicine vials and syringes are barcoded and the small and curved surface makes it difficult to be read with anything but an “HD” scanner.
2. “SR” or Standard Range Focus
- The benefit of a standard range scanner is it gives you the most flexibility in your scanner’s focal point, allowing a good balance of scanning capabilities both large and small.
Pro: We find these used in everyday applications ranging from retail stores to warehouses to ticket scanning for sporting events.
Con: This scanning range is not best suited for small or tightly packed barcodes (such as a direct part mark) with lots of information stored on it, or barcodes at an increased distance from the scanner’s window.
Example: This is your perfect UPC barcode scanner, such as what you would find on a cereal box or can of soup in the grocery store.
3. “ER” or Extended Range Focus
- The extended range scanners are the ideal device for scanning at a distance. While this may be a more specialized application, its benefits cannot be overlooked in the right situation. This is done in either of two ways. The first method uses a laser to reach out and scan a low density barcode which is printed on a special reflective backing, allowing the laser to pick up the lines and spaces in the code. The other option uses a 2D imager to take a picture of the barcode and process the information. The imager uses the ambient light surrounding the barcode and does not need a special reflective backing in order to capture the image.
Pro: We find this type of scanner most used in a warehouse setting where the need to scan large low density barcodes at increased range is common.
Con: Not suited for any small and high density barcode application, such as those commonly found in the medical field.
Example: In a warehouse environment, special large and reflective barcodes are used on pallets in order to allow the scanner to reach out and read the barcode at distances up to 50 feet away.
Often, you may see the same model scanner available in several different focal ranges. Using the overview you have just read will help give you some background and understanding as to why these exist and what the benefits are.
Helpful Hint: Be sure to double check your scanning application as well as model number before going forward with your purchase to ensure you are receiving the best scanning performance possible to fit your needs. For any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be sure to help you through your selection process.
About the Author:
Brandon is a member of L-Tron’s Sales Team specializing in the webstore and inside sales rep duties. When he is not at work, you can find Brandon skiing, traveling or playing his guitar. You can reach Brandon at 800-830-9523, x116 or email Brandon.Morabito@L-Tron.com.