Customer Spotlight: Out with Retro, In with 2D

In a state where you can be standing on the coast at sea level or on a mountain top claiming the record for highest point on the East Coast, many things can happen! It’s a place where farming and furniture-making have transitioned into an economy of engineering, biotechnology and finance! Times are changing and so businesses and people need to be flexible and quickly adapt.

More Clues: The climate in this state is strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and most of the state falls under what is known as a humid subtropical climate – sounds pretty nice right about now, doesn’t it?! Also, 45% of the state is occupied by a coastal plain… over 300 miles long!

One of our customers, from this beautiful state (have you figured out which one it is yet?) is a perfect example of adjusting to change and they are using new technology to help them continue their growth well into the future.

Ok, ok, we’ll tell you… (drum roll please…) the state is North Carolina!

So now, you can imagine with that much coast line, a lot of business must be going on along the water’s edge. International trade, for instance, is growing leaps and bounds with many businesses and industries looking for ways to take advantage of these global markets.

This is where our customer comes in―they needed a way to keep track of everything coming and going in their dockside warehouses. With millions of dollars of goods, they wanted a way to quickly save and link a lot of data pertaining to the contents in their storerooms.

2D Warehouse LabelThe solution was DataMatrix 2D barcodes printed with 11 alpha-numeric characters  in a whopping 248 mil X dimension―but measuring a meager 4 square inches! Granted their labels were big―approximately 8” by 14”―but that was so we could include large human readable information easily read from long distances. Printed in sets of two, the labels were mounted to rugged plastic placards (front and back) and suspended above inventory to be visible in two directions.

With lineal barcodes, the more characters that are encoded, the longer the barcode becomes. In the case of warehouse labels, the density of the barcodes is typically increased to improve scanning distance. (Had we printed this customer’s labels in the Code 128 with a mere 100 mil NB size for instance, the barcode alone would have had to be at least 16” long!)

What is most amazing however is that our customer was able to scan their DataMatrix barcodes anywhere from 6 to 50 feet―WITHOUT the use of retro-reflective materials! Normally reflective labels with embedded glass particles are needed to make the barcodes “pop” and reflect light back from a long-distance laser scanner. Instead, EIM could offer them standard white poly labels at a significantly lower cost than reflective labels.

2D codes like DataMatrix do not require high contrast printing or reflectivity since they aren’t “read” by a scanner, but rather are analyzed as a complete image. The customer’s mobile computers (scanners) had integrated digital cameras that can read 2D codes in any orientation and by using DataMatrix they can include much more information within their barcodes. Information such as origin, quantity, product description, weight, etc. can be encoded and be as detailed or simplistic as necessary. This proved to be a great solution for our North Carolina customer and it’s helping them keep up with the fast-growing needs and demands of international commerce.

Electronic Imaging Materials