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The Whys and Hows of Using Barcodes and UID Plates for Your Business

Updated on September 13, 2013
Barcodes and UID Plates
Barcodes and UID Plates

Keeping track of inventory, knowing where your assets are and finding out whether you need new equipment or not can be easily done with the help of barcodes and UID plates. What exactly are these things and why are these considered very helpful when it comes to keeping track of assets as well as staying on top of your inventory tasks? To help you better understand the whys and hows of using such items, let us first understand what a barcode and a UID plate is.

By definition, a barcode is a machine readable code that has lines and spaces that are used to represent data which relates to the object it is attached to. In short, a barcode is essentially a summarization of what a product is and this is encoded with the use of different parallel lines in varying widths, lengths and spaces. You can easily see these codes on a number of items that you purchase in stores and these codes are read by optical scanners which can then get the information needed about a product which includes price, quantity and brand.

UID codes, on the other hand, or Unique Identification codes (also called UID marking) is actually a compliance code that is used upon the command of the US Department of Defense. This code is used to give equipment that come with an over $5000 acquisition cost a unique ID. This very same code type is also used on controlled inventory, consumable equipment, mission essential items and serially controlled products. UID plates or labels use what is called a 2D Data Matrix code or symbol which can store more information on it when compared with regular barcodes.

UID Plate With Barcodes
UID Plate With Barcodes

Should You Use UID Plate or Barcodes?

Since it has been established that both types of codes can be read by machines or optical devices, and can store quite a bit of data in a small space, the question that one begs to ask is, which type of code is ideal for your specific use? Before you go and order a barcode or a UID plate for your business, you should first know whether or not your codes should adhere to standards set by an outside entity or if you have the freedom to use any type of code for your business needs.

Once you have established whether or not you can choose to use any barcode or matrix code you want, you can then choose the type of inventory or tracking code you use. This is still subject to certain uses and implementation methods. For example, if your barcode is to be used to sell an item and is for scanning at your point of sale, an EAN/UPC barcode may be needed. If your code is to be used for showing information like expiration dates, serial numbers or other variable info, then you might want to consider using data matrix or UID codes for this.

Another choice you will need to make once the kind of code is determined is the size of the barcode or matrix code to use on your items. This will then determine the size of your tag, label or plate to use. Also part of the selection process is the barcode color, location of this code if for labeling purposes and who you should tap to print or create these barcodes for you.

All of these can be very complicated and confusing if you are not that well versed in terms of barcode symbology, uses, types and the like. To help you determine what kind of barcodes and UID plates are ideal for your business, you might want to talk with an expert on the subject to get the kind of information you need without having to worry about making the wrong decisions about such a concern. You can also talk with manufacturers of these items to get their input on what is best for your needs and your business.


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