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Bar Code: Enabling Technology for the Smart Factory

The internet is not going to hit the factory all at once; the transition to global connectivity will be gradual. In the meantime, businesses have a chance to prepare their operations to integrate seamlessly with Industry 4.0. The first step? Bar Code.

We've partnered with Flexlink and Cogiscan, long time material control and handling experts, to outline the realized benefits of a comprehensive barcode program including: 

  • 15% increase in machine efficiency and utilization
  • 99% inventory accuracy in real-time
  • Reduced first article inspection through the automated validation of part numbers
  • Material traceability requirements for high-value products
  • 50% higher return on ERP investment
  • Reduced production downtime due to changeover

PCB Bar Code Marking: Laser vs. Print

We recommend our customers laser mark their boards with 2D bar code. There is a general concern that Laser marking will damage the board; however, laser markers only penetrate the board as deep as needed using adjustable laser power and speed settings to optimize readability.

Laser Marking offers significant cost savings by completely automating the marking and inspection of PCBs. This resource eliminates issues created by manually printing and applying barcode labels including:

  • Rising labor costs for technicians to print, apply and inspect labels
  • Extensive ink and paper costs accrued time
  • The annual cost of gloves combined with the contamination risk of human touch
  • The vulnerability of ink to be misprinted and/or smudged
  • Varied label placement due to human error 

2D vs. 1D Bar Code: 

More Information Utilizing Less Space

1D barcodes hold a few dozen characters and generally increases in physical size as more data is added. 

2D barcode uses patterns of squares, hexagons, dots and other shapes to encode data on a smaller footprint reaching as small as 1.8 mm x 1.8 mm while holding hundred of characters. 

Cost Benefits of 2D Bar Code

1D barcodes require a bar code scanner that is either manually applied or requires manual position adjustment on an exterior conveyor. This wastes significant time and money.

Switching to a 2D bar code system allows manufacturers to take advantage of existing cameras in capital equipment by programming the X / Y axis to read image-based data. This eliminates excessive downtime and bar code scanners creating an environment more conducive for factory automation. 

What's Next? Get Connected!

A comprehensive barcode program creates a foundation for lean material management. From the receipt of raw materials to delivery, it is critical to track components, materials, and final products through a centralized network integrated with ERP software. Once this infrastructure is established manufacturers achieve factory automation through:

  • Real-time visibility of the factory floor
  • Complete component, material and product traceability, and control
  • Automated warehouse replenishment through an intelligent ERP system
  • Automated component validation for setup
  • Red flags for proactive changeover to reduce downtime
  • Reel error rate insight
  • Optimized production scheduling to reduce changeover

Questions? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for your free factory assessment and begin defining your smart factory road map today! 

Robert Jones

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o 510-770-9400 ex. 102

c 408-605-0141

Jim Donner

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o 510-770-9400

c 408-799-5527


  1. Cogiscan. "Traceability at Semecs." www.cogiscan.com. Cogiscan, 2016. Web. 15 June 2016.
  2. Flexlink. "Automated conveyor systems, fexlible Conveyors." www.flexlink.com. Flexlink, 2016. Web. 15 June 2016.
  3. "Next-Generation Material Management for Manufacturing" Global Shop Solutions. N.p.,2016. Web. 15 June 2016.
  4. "What Can Implementing a Barcode System Do for You?" Barcoding Systems: Extending the Enterprise. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 June 2016.

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