Barcode Labeling Solutions for Life Sciences
Barcodes are used by us all in everyday life, they are on every item we buy and use. However, many of us don’t know ‘what’s behind the lines’. For many sectors including food, healthcare, life sciences and retail, barcode labeling is mission critical - without them commerce would grind to a standstill.
What is a barcode and how does it work?
A barcode in simple terms is an optical, machine-readable representation of data. Generally placed on a label, the underlying data contains information regarding the object it is attached to. Barcodes come in various forms including linear or one-dimensional (1D) for small amounts of information which works as a point to data in a database and two-dimensional or data matrix (2D) which can store a large amount of data which is carried around with the product/item.
When scanned by shining an LED or laser light onto the barcode, the light reflects into a light-detecting electronic component called a photoelectric cell that interprets the lines/pattern. White areas of the barcode reflect most light; black areas reflect least.
Although anyone can create a barcode, if they’re to be used in the supply chain they must be regulated, for further information on barcodes and symbologies, visit the GS1 website.
How barcodes help
Barcode labeling not only helps with identifying product information, but also enables products to travel through the supply chain smoothly – they can be viewed as the product’s ‘personal ID’.
For most consumer products, barcodes are mass produced on the primary packaging and if there’s an error or quality issue this generally isn’t a huge problem - a problem at the till for the retailer but not life threatening. However, if there’s a barcode label error or quality issue in the medical device and pharmaceutical market (which is usually applied to the product on a label), it can be life changing.
The barcode has become essential to the life sciences sector for supporting regulations such as the FDA’s UDI (Unique Device Identification) and the EU’s MDR (Medical Device Regulations) where specific elements of information must be included to be compliant.
Barcode Labeling Solutions
In the past, life sciences organizations have often opted for ‘out-of-the-box’ barcode labeling solutions, but with the evolution of product labeling compliance, these simply won’t meet today’s demands. Companies need to think about the data and how that data is used, rather than just the label…
In today’s market, life sciences organizations need to consider if the barcode labeling solution can:
- Be used on a regional/global scale?
- Meet industry standards now and in the future?
- Integrate with other business applications and processes?
- Be maintained from one central location while being used in satellite offices/distribution centres?