Building Barcode Scanning Applications for Packaging Industry: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jul 03, 2023

Barcode scanning applications in the packaging industry streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and improve traceability. They enable accurate inventory management, product identification, and supply chain visibility. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on creating a package scanner.

  1. Step 1: Understanding Barcodes and Barcode Scanning

  2. Step 2: Choosing the Right Barcode Scanning Technology

  3. Step 3: Selecting a Development Platform

  4. Step 4: Choosing a Barcode Scanning SDK or Library

  5. Step 5: Setting Up the Development Environment

  6. Step 6: Integrating the Barcode Scanning SDK

  7. Step 7: Designing the User Interface of the App

  8. Step 8: Implementing Barcode Scanning Logic

  9. Step 9: Handling Barcode Data and Integration

  10. Step 10: Testing and Debugging

  11. Step 11:Enhancement and Optimization

  12. Step 12: Deployment and Maintenance

  13. Try Dynamsoft Barcode Reader SDK

Step 1: Understanding Barcodes and Barcode Scanning

It is vital to understand the usage of barcodes and the various symbologies used in the packaging sector before developing any barcode scanning application. This will aid in the development of a comprehensive application that caters to all of the prerequisites of a packaging environment.

i. Barcodes and their significance in packaging

Barcodes play a crucial role in the packaging industry by minimizing errors, enhancing efficiency through rapid and accurate product identification, and expediting operations. They aid in quality assurance during the delivery of products by facilitating product tracking and improving supply chain visibility. Expiration dates, country of origin, and batch numbers are just some of the information that may be found in a barcode, all of which are essential to maintaining safety and quality to meet regulatory compliance.

ii. Important Barcode Symbologies Used in Packaging

1. UPC (Universal Product Code): UPC barcodes are printed on most consumer products. They help with stock tracking, POS transactions, and product identification.

2.EAN (European Article Number): EAN barcodes, like UPC, are widely used in Europe for product identification, retail scanning, and inventory management.

3. QR Code (Quick Response Code): QR codes in packaging enable track and trace, product registration and warranty processes, marketing campaigns and promotions, sustainability and recycling, and enhanced supply chain management.

4. DataMatrix: DataMatrix barcodes in packaging help track, identify, and manage products. These barcodes are used for labeling and data retrieval, especially in pharmaceuticals, electronics, and asset tracking.

5. Code 39: Packaging uses Code 39 barcodes for product identification, inventory control, and logistics. They encode alphanumeric data, track goods efficiently, and are utilized in manufacturing and healthcare.

6. Code 128: Packaging leverages Code 128 barcodes for inventory control, product information, and supply chain efficiency. These are used on shipping labels to monitor and identify goods.

7. GS1-128: Supply chain and logistics applications employ GS1-128 barcodes to store data, such as batch numbers, expiration dates, and serial numbers.

8. Interleaved 2 of 5 (ITF-14): Packaging and shipping cartons utilize ITF-14 barcodes. These barcodes encode data such as product codes and quantities, allowing for accurate inventory control and warehousing operations.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Barcode Scanning Technology


i. Factors to consider when selecting a barcode scanning solution

Several aspects should be focused on when selecting a barcode scanning system for packaging:

1. Scanning Speed: In high-volume packaging environments, the scanning speed of the solution is of utmost importance. Choose a high-speed and precise barcode scanner to maximize your productivity and efficiency.

2. Compatibility: Ensure that the scanning solution is compatible with the barcode symbologies used in your packaging operations. The package scanner should work with common barcodes and current software and hardware.

3. Connectivity and Integration: Check the package scanner’s connectivity features. It should connect to your preferred devices (e.g., desktops, mobile devices) and integrate effectively with your infrastructure, such as inventory management software or warehouse management systems.

4. Cost: Consider the overall package scanner solution cost, including purchase or leasing, maintenance, and software or license pricing. Find the optimum price-to-feature ratio.

Camera-based barcode scanning technology, such as image-based scanners or smartphone apps, is recommended for packaging applications. It provides adaptability in scanning multiple barcode symbologies, accurate 2D barcode scanning, image capture for documentation, and device compatibility. It also offers flexibility and convenience of usage in dynamic packaging environments.

Step 3: Selecting a Development Platform

i. Web, Desktop, or Mobile App

The decision between a web, desktop, or mobile application depends on the particular requirements of your setup.

Parameter Desktop App Web App Mobile App
Mode of Download Pre-installed or Installed via a drive or the Web Accessed through the web browser Google Play or App Store
Internet Connection No Yes Maybe
Additional Hardware Webcam, Handheld Barcode Scanner Not necessary if using mobile devices with a camera None
Mobility No Yes, with mobile devices Yes
Updates Manually Dynamic Manually
Extra Costs, such as hardware, etc. Yes Maybe, when accessed via a desktop No

Going through these parameters, you can decide which type of package scanner app you want to develop.

ii. Operating System

Consider the following when selecting an operating system for your package barcode scanner.

1. Compatibility: Ensure that the Operating System works with packaging software and hardware.

2. Industry Standards: Check if a specific operating system is required as per the industry standards. Operating system requirements for data security or interoperability vary by industry.

3.Software Availability: Evaluate packaging industry software compatibility across operating systems.

4. User Familiarity and Training: Choosing an operating system that matches your workforce’s existing skill set might reduce training requirements.

5. Technical Support: Consider the availability and reliability of technical assistance for your chosen operating system.

Step 4: Choosing a Barcode Scanning SDK or Library

The table below compares many variables between an open-source and commercial-grade barcode scanner SDK.

Parameter Open-Source Barcode Scanner SDK Commercial-Grade Barcode Scanner SDK
Speed and Accuracy Inferior Superior with the ability to read hundreds of barcodes in 60 seconds
Support for Multiple Symbologies Limited All Standard Symbologies supported
Scan Results Inferior, Unable to Scan Tough Barcodes Easily read the toughest inventory barcodes
Time to Market Significant investment in time and cost Integrate barcode reading functionality using a few lines of code
Performance in Challenging Environments Poor performance in low light, glares, and shadows Quick scan results, even in the most challenging conditions
Product Upgrades No Timely upgrades for optimal performance
Technical Support No Yes
Add-On Features No Yes, such as batch scanning for bulk-reading of barcodes in one go, text recognition, etc.
Hidden Costs Yes No

Step 5: Setting Up the Development Environment


To set up the development environment, follow these steps:

  • Choose a programming language suitable for your application, such as Java, C#, Python, or JavaScript.

  • Next, install an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that supports your chosen programming language, such as Visual Studio, Eclipse, or Visual Studio Code.

  • Install and set up the software components and tools, such as the .NET Framework, JDK (Java Development Kit), or Python environment.

Step 6: Integrating the Barcode Scanning SDK

Follow the steps below to install an SDK as a dependency and create the appropriate settings for barcode scanning capability in your development environment:

  • Download the SDK: Once you have decided on the SDK, download the SDK from the vendor’s website or via package managers like NuGet (for .NET), Maven (for Java), or pip (for Python).

  • Add the SDK Dependency: After that, enter the package name or dependency details to add the SDK requirement. This enables your project to access the SDK’s features.

  • Install the SDK: If the SDK requires separate installation, follow the SDK provider’s instructions to install it on your development system. This may entail running an installer or providing particular instructions.

  • Import the SDK: Import the relevant classes or modules from the SDK into your code to access its classes and functions related to barcode scanning.

  • Configure Permissions: The environment or platform you’re building for may require barcode scanning permissions or configurations. For example, barcode scanning on mobile devices may need camera authorization.

  • Adding the Barcode Scanning Functionality: Scan barcodes and extract data using the SDK’s methods or functions. This usually requires scanning the barcode and processing it for decoding it.

  • Handling the Barcode Data: Implement logic to handle SDK barcode data. This includes decoding the barcode, retrieving important information, and taking any necessary actions depending on the scanned data.

Step 7: Designing the User Interface of the App


Consider the following principles and elements when designing an intuitive and user-friendly UI for a barcode scanning application:

  • Maintain a simple and uncluttered UI.
  • Utilize icons and clear visual cues for scanning.
  • Keep a consistent organization and layout.
  • Offer responsive design for various devices.
  • Streamline the workflow with as few stages as possible.
  • Provide confirmation and feedback for successful scans.
  • Design clear error management messages.
  • Consider options for accessibility and customization.
  • Perform user testing and feedback-driven iteration.

Step 8: Implementing Barcode Scanning Logic

Using the barcode scanning SDK’s functions and APIs, you can seamlessly integrate camera initialization, frame capturing, image processing, barcode recognition, and data extraction into your application’s workflow, allowing for accurate and efficient barcode scanning functionality.

Step 9: Handling Barcode Data and Integration

Once the barcode data has been extracted from the SDK, it may be validated against established criteria or industry standards to guarantee correctness and integrity. Perform database lookups to acquire relevant barcode information, such as inventory levels or product details. Implement with other systems, such as shipping or inventory management systems, to update data or trigger specified actions, such as shipment alerts or stock updates, based on the scanned barcode.

Step 10: Testing and Debugging


Testing a barcode scanning app with different barcode types and lighting settings, and real-world modeling circumstances is critical to ensure its reliability and accuracy. Consider performing the following:

  1. Try Scanning multiple barcode types to evaluate the app’s capability to read different barcode symbologies.

  2. Test the app’s performance under varying lighting conditions, such as low light, shadow, glare, etc.

  3. Replicate real-world scenarios encountered in the packaging industry.

  4. Evaluate the scanning capability of the app at various distance ranges to assess its range.

  5. Speed and accuracy test to see how fastly the barcode scanner app works.

  6. Perform debugging and issue resolution to detect errors, crashes, or unexpected behavior.

Step 11:Enhancement and Optimization

Consider incorporating the following strategies to improve the efficacy and accuracy of a barcode scanning app:

1. High-Quality Image Capture: Adjust camera settings such as exposure, focus, and resolution to optimize image capture. Proper lighting conditions will allow for well-defined and clear barcode images.

2. Advanced Image Processing: Leverage image processing techniques, such as image refining, noise reduction, and contrast modification, to improve barcode readability. These techniques can enhance scanning accuracy, particularly in challenging conditions.

3. Barcode Validation: Implement mechanisms for validating scanned barcodes against industry standards or specific criteria. Verify the symbology, length, and check the digits of the barcode to guarantee accurate scanning results.

4. Error Correction: Include error correction algorithms for handling barcodes that are damaged or partially obscured barcodes. Implement error correction techniques like Reed-Solomon to reconstruct missing or corrupted data and enhance scanning accuracy.

5. Continuous Auto-Focus and Image Stabilization: Utilize continuous autofocus and image stabilization to compensate for changes in movement or distance. These characteristics guarantee a sharp and stable image for accurate barcode recognition.

Step 12: Deployment and Maintenance

A barcode scanning app cannot function well without regular maintenance, upgrades, and technical assistance. This includes keeping an eye on how things are running, fixing any problems that crop up, and making sure everything is compatible with OS upgrades. New features may be introduced, and security can be bolstered with the help of updates and improvements. Fixing bugs quickly and providing helpful technical assistance is essential for smooth performance.

Constant testing and quality control assist in guaranteeing consistency. These precautions will keep the app safe, reliable, and user-friendly for as long as possible.

Try Dynamsoft Barcode Reader SDK

Start with the 30-day free trial for an in-depth analysis, or try the online demo to see it in action.

You can also get in touch with one of our technical support specialists for personalized guidance to find the best solution for your usage scenario.