A New UPC Term Has surfaced: “GS1 Certified Barcode”. Hmmm?

barcode for productsI have not been able to ascertain where this term originated from, but it sounds very suspicious to me, and here is why.

The word “certified” indicates a certain higher level of quality in a product or service. The use of this term here seems to indicated GS1 will certify the quality of a bar code image. I doubt that capability in rather strong terms, and here is the reasoning behind my thoughts.

It all starts with the GS1 General Specification, which is updated annually in January of each year.

The Gen Spec. defines the quality of:

  • The bar code encodation (bar/space pattern) for each number in the UPC/GTIN12 bar code.
  • The size(s) of the bar code from small to large.
  • The sizes of each element of the bar code for each of the sizes noted above.
  • The acceptable bar code color.
  • The location of the bar code on the package.

Putting a bar code image on a label, box, carton etc. is a team effort. It all depends upon the various members of the implementation team knowing their part of the goal and executing their part of the process (their part of the process is “conforming” vs. “non-conforming” precisely). The team members are:

  • The brand owner who assigns the numbers to their various products.
  • The company that makes the bar code to the printing companies specification.
  • The pre-press company that marries the bar code into the graphic for the package.
  • The package printing company that prints the bar code, which conforms to the printed symbol quality grade level required.
  • The package printing company may use a bar code verifier that is calibrated to a known national standard.

All the above are independent processes, and GS1 absolutely cannot manage the quality level (conforming vs. non-conforming) of all the various team members. So, my opinion is that the term “GS1 Certified Barcode” is really bogus and unworkable.

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Ted Schultze

Prefix-xchange, Inc./President

“The Bar Code Doctor™”