Advancements in Barcode Scanning Technology                                       


boxes stacked in warehouse with many different labels

The e-commerce boom has fueled an unprecedented surge in parcel volume, demanding ever-increasing efficiency from logistics and fulfillment centers. At the heart of this efficiency lies the critical operation of parcel sorting.  Accurate and reliable identification of each package is essential to ensure it reaches its destination quickly and cost-effectively. This is where advancements in barcode scanning technology play a pivotal role.

Traditional laser scanners have served as the workhorse of the industry, but they have their limits.  However, the emergence of next generation scanning solutions, including our own proprietary software and cutting-edge camera integrations from Keyence, Cognex, and now SICK, is transforming the landscape of parcel automation sorting.

Barcode Scanning: The Core Functionality

Barcode scanning is the process of capturing and decoding data encoded within the black and white lines or patterns of a barcode. These patterns represent alphanumeric characters, and a barcode scanner translates them into a readable format for computers and other systems. This captured data typically contains information about the product, such as a unique identifier, price, or origin. In essence, barcodes act as a machine-readable label, streamlining data collection and tracking processes across various industries.

Decoding a World of Symbology

a roll of code 128 barcodes

Not all barcodes are created equal. Over the years, different barcodes, each with its own pattern design and data capacity, have been developed. Some of the most common you’ll encounter include:

Code 128: A versatile barcode format that can encode alphanumeric characters, making it suitable for various applications. This is the most common type of barcode put through our parcel sorting machines.  A commonly seen type of Code 128 is an IMPB: An Intelligent Mail Package Barcode. This is a special code used by the USPS, specifically for their tracking, Delivery Confirmation, and Signature Confirmation.

Data Matrix: A two-dimensional (2D) code that can store a significant amount of information in a small space. A GTL, or Global Transport Label is an example of this code that allows for faster and more accurate identification of packages.

EAN-13: A European Article Number, now used globally, is comprised of 13 digits that identify the country of origin, manufacturer code, product code, and check digit for error detection. A type of EAN-13 is an ISBN, commonly seen on books and book-like products published internationally. It’s like a fingerprint for a specific edition of a book.

Universal Product Code (UPC): A widely used barcode in retail for product identification and pricing at checkout.

These are just a few examples, and the choice of symbology depends on the specific data requirements and application.

Limitations of Traditional Laser Scanners

While laser scanners have been the workhorse of barcode scanning for decades, they have limitations that can hinder efficiency in modern parcel sorting operations. Here are some key drawbacks:

Sensitivity to Damaged Labels: Laser scanners rely on a clear line of sight to read the barcode pattern. Damaged, wrinkled, or poorly printed labels can significantly reduce their reading accuracy.

Limited Reading Range: Traditional scanners have a fixed reading range, requiring precise positioning of the scanner to capture the barcode data. This can be cumbersome and slow down sorting processes, especially for oddly shaped or large packages.

Inability to Read Multiple Codes: Laser scanners typically focus on a single barcode at a time. Parcels with multiple labels, which is increasingly common, can pose challenges for traditional scanners.

A Leap Forward in Parcel Sorting

We work with different vendors and develop our own software, specifically designed to address the limitations of traditional scanners in parcel sorting like the ability to read multiple barcodes at once. This increases efficiency and accuracy.

Keyence Cameras: Unlocking Advanced Scanning Potential

We further elevate our scanning capabilities by integrating Keyence cameras into our sorting systems.  These cameras boast superior image processing capabilities, offering significant advantages for parcel sorting:

Conquering Damaged Labels: Keyence cameras excel at reading even compromised labels. Their advanced image processing algorithms can reconstruct data from partially damaged codes, significantly reducing “no reads” and ensuring smooth sorting operations.

Multi-Code Mastery: Parcels with multiple labels, containing routing information, tracking codes, or customs declarations, are no longer a challenge. Keyence cameras can simultaneously capture and decode data from multiple codes on a single package, streamlining the sorting process.

SICK Cameras: Enhancing Flexibility and Singulation

Taking sorting flexibility to the next level, we also integrate SICK cameras into our systems.  These innovative cameras come equipped with 3D scanning capabilities, unlocking new possibilities:

Shaped for Success: Irregularly shaped parcels, tubes, or oddly sized packages can pose challenges for traditional scanners. SICK cameras’ 3D scanning technology captures the entire shape of the parcel, enabling accurate identification and sorting regardless of form factor.

Smoother Flow with Improved Singulation: Precise singulation, or separation, of parcels on conveyor belts is crucial for efficient sorting. SICK cameras provide valuable depth data that can be used to optimize conveyor speed and spacing, ensuring smooth and uninterrupted parcel flow.

The Benefits of Advanced Scanning Solutions

The integration of next-generation scanning solutions, featuring our proprietary technology and industry-leading cameras from Keyence and SICK, brings a wave of positive transformations to parcel sorting operations. Here’s how:

Unmatched Accuracy and Efficiency: Camera-based scanning offers a significant leap in accuracy compared to traditional laser scanners. Superior image processing tackles damaged labels, eliminates misread codes, and ensures consistent, reliable identification of every package. This translates to faster sorting speeds and smoother overall operation.

Minimizing “No Reads”: “No reads,” instances where a scanner fails to capture barcode data, can significantly disrupt sorting processes. Advanced scanning solutions dramatically reduce these occurrences, minimizing missorts and ensuring each package reaches its intended destination on time. This translates to improved customer satisfaction and reduced costs associated with misdirected packages.

Versatility for a Wide Range of Parcels: The limitations of traditional scanners in handling odd-shaped packages or those with multiple labels are a thing of the past. Our solutions, with 3D scanning capabilities and multi-code reading prowess, can effortlessly handle a wider variety of parcel types and labeling formats. This allows for seamless sorting regardless of package size, shape, or labeling complexity.


The landscape of parcel sorting is rapidly evolving, driven by the ever-increasing demands of e-commerce.  Traditional barcode scanning technology, while instrumental in the past, is struggling to keep pace with the growing complexity and volume of parcels.  At our company, we are committed to staying ahead of the curve by offering innovative solutions that combine our proprietary scanning technology with the advanced capabilities of Keyence and SICK cameras.

These next-generation solutions deliver unmatched accuracy, efficiency, and versatility in parcel sorting.  By minimizing “no reads”, they ensure faster throughput and lower operational costs.  Furthermore, their ability to handle a wider variety of parcel shapes and labels allows for seamless sorting regardless of package complexity.  In conclusion, our commitment to cutting-edge scanning technology empowers our clients to navigate the demands of the modern e-commerce landscape with confidence and efficiency.

Interested in parcel sorting? Check out our Chameleon parcel processing solution to learn how we can help.