Choosing the right barcode scanner for your warehouse can be a challenge. This is especially true with the wide range of handheld devices on the market today.
First thing’s first. Let’s review the many types of barcode scanners available. Once you understand the options of types and capabilities, you can narrow your search based on your specific needs.
Types of Barcode Scanners
Commonly used in retail environments at point of sale, fixed barcode scanners are attached to a terminal and transmit data as a single barcode is scanned. These are also referred to as “tethered” scanners.
Portable Batch Scanners
Portable batch scanners store data which is later transferred to a host computer. They are battery-operated which allows for greater flexibility than a fixed scanner. Also, portable batch scanners contain an LCD monitor and keypad. This allows users to perform tasks from the device. Batch scanners come in hand-held, wearable and truck mounted styles.
Wireless barcode scanners also store data in memory like batch scanners. But, they transmit their data to a back-end system in real-time. Wireless scanners provide the highest level of worker productivity. At the same time, it’s a great benefit to have instant access to your data. For instance, accurate information is always available when it comes to managing inventory. This is also helpful when performing asset tracking.
Here are five items to consider to ensure that you choose the best barcode scanner
Did you know that drops are the leading cause of damage to mobile computers? So, the flooring in your warehouse is a top concern. Barcode scanners can be rugged or general purpose. Rugged devices can perform under harsh conditions. If you drop your mobile device, will it land on a soft surface like carpet or on a surface like concrete? Look for a handheld computer with a rugged classification if you have hard flooring.
Is there a high level of dust in your warehouse? What about sawdust or other small particles?
If the answer is yes, make sure you look at the Ingress Protection (IP) rating of any model you consider. This is also the case if it’s possible that a handheld scanner could be dropped in water. To maximize the chances of your device surviving these elements, look for an IP rating of at least 68.
Do you work in a warehouse with low light levels or is your environment full of light? Lower brightness on your barcode scanner is suitable for a low light environment. But, you’ll need a higher brightness level if you plan to use the device in bright sunlight or a bright warehouse.
Whatever the lighting conditions in your warehouse, ask your vendor for a demo in those conditions. You’ll want to ensure that the scanner can read barcodes correctly in your environment.
Keyboard Needs of the User
If the employees are typing in numbers, find a barcode reader with a number key location that is ergonomic for them. If the user will often be wearing gloves when typing on the unit, you need one with larger keys. Consider anything else that may impact the size or location of keys for the device users.
If you will be scanning barcodes, consider the code type and scanning distance. 2D imaging is appropriate for any type of barcode scanning. Linear barcode scan engines are appropriate only for 1D barcodes.
If you’ll need to scan from long range, look for a unit with Advanced Long Range or Extended Range capability. These scanners can read with either laser scanning or 2D barcode imaging from 45 to 50 feet away.
The question of how to choose the best barcode scanner for your warehouse can be a daunting one. Consider the five items above, and you’ll be on your way to the right decision.