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GS1 is an international association dedicated to the development and implementation of global standards to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply-and-demand chains globally and across multiple sectors. You can think of them as the rule-makers who oversee all of these sectors to ensure that employees and their business systems speak a common language.

A GS1 barcode, or GS1 Data Matrix code, is a barcode that uses globally recognized GS1 Identification Keys for unique identification of a product, company, locations, quantities, services and other identifying data related to a product. These ID Keys are numeric strings that must be formatted in accordance with values specified by GS1. Using GS1 standards, a company can format a numeric string containing the necessary ID Keys to identify a particular product within a particular process. This string can then be used to create a barcode for complete product identification. (Learn more about implementing a GS1 barcode.)

GS1 validation is an important quality control step for companies who must conform to GS1 standards. Microscan, for example, provides automation technology to read GS1 barcode and ensure that these codes adhere to the prescribed syntax for a string containing several GS1 ID Keys. In other words, Microscan can make sure that a barcode is formatted properly to convey the correct message. The latest release of our machine vision software platform, AutoVISION 2.0, in particular features a new GS1 syntax validation and parsing option for monitoring GS1 code accuracy. Using a Microscan smart camera such as Vision HAWK or Vision MINI running the AutoVISION software platform, any GS1 code can be validated to meet necessary parameters.

When I attended the GS1 conference last June, I was able to pick up a sample GS1 barcode label from a printer manufacturer exhibitor at the conference. Ironically, I was trying to ask them if there was any synergy between our businesses or any way we two could partner up. I was explaining that we could verify and validate that their labels are printed correctly. They were abrupt with their " no" and were quick to tell me that they never make mistakes in their printing, but I was able to get a sample label.

I had brought a Vision HAWK machine vision demo kit with me to the conference, so that night I went back to my room to read the labels I had picked up from various exhibitors. The label sample from the printer manufacturer I had spoken with included many barcodes with human readable text printed underneath representing the barcode content.

Our Vision HAWK with AutoVISION machine vision software decodes their barcode to " 12345678" - close but not " 8." This is a huge error - instead of receiving 8 of something, you would receive 12,345,678 of something into your business system. 12 million versus 8! Close? Not so much. Maybe this printer manufacturer could indeed benefit from Microscan technology to validate what they print.

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