Capitalizing On The Growth Of CCD Fixed-Mount Scanners
As some manufacturers opt for two-dimensional symbologies, many also are opting for charge coupled device scanners. Read about this trend.
Charge coupled device (CCD) fixed-mount scanners are gaining popularity as select applications rely heavily on two-dimensional symbologies, according to industry observers. Fixed-mount scanners are used to scan bar-coded items, such as packages, on conveyor belts.
Two-dimensional (2-D) symbologies are becoming popular in applications such as electronics and small parts marking, according to Dennis Kaill, vice president of marketing for Microscan. Microscan (Renton, WA) is a manufacturer of both fixed-mount and portable bar-code scanners and 2-D readers.
Kaill says many personal computer (PC) manufacturers buy components of PCs – such as printed circuit boards – from third-party suppliers. The manufacturers, such as Dell and Gateway, require their suppliers to bar code the suppliers' components. These bar codes hold the name of the supplier, the batch number, lot number, and time and date of manufacture, Kaill says.
According to Kaill, that type of information helps Dell and Gateway identify the source of defective components. However, linear (i.e., one-dimensional) bar codes don't have the capacity to store supplier names, batch numbers, etc. Hence, items such as printed circuit boards have to be identified with 2-D symbologies, which can store more information than linear codes. Two-dimensional symbols also have become more popular because they can store the information in a smaller space than linear bar codes.
CCD: Ideal For 2-D Applications
Applications that rely on 2-D symbologies increasingly are adopting CCD fixed-mount scanners. Says Kaill, "Historically, fixed-mount scanners have been laser based. But CCD fixed-mount scanners are starting to gain a foothold."
The reason? According to Mel Morris, vice president of marketing for Opticon, CCD scanners are much better at reading 2-D symbols than are laser-based scanners. Opticon (Orangeburg, NY) is a manufacturer of fixed-mount and portable scanning devices.
"CCD scanners capture the entire image of the symbology," Morris says. "The image is later decoded by image-processing software. In contrast, laser scanners are not appropriate for reading 2-D symbologies. The user would have to raster scan the symbol from the top to bottom with the laser beam. That's why it isn't practical to use a laser scanner in an application with 2-D symbologies."
Advantages Of CCD Fixed-mount Scanners
According to Morris, fixed-mount CCD scanners offer additional advantages over their laser counterparts, including:
- Affordability – CCD scanners generally are several hundred dollars less expensive than laser scanners.
- Reliability – CCD scanners, because they have no moving parts, generally have a lower failure rate than laser scanners.
Small size – Generally, CCD scanners are smaller than laser scanners, Morris says. As a result, CCD scanners can easily be embedded into other instrumentation, such as blood analyzers. In laboratory applications, for example, test tubes containing blood samples are placed in a rotating, carousel-like mechanism. The mechanism rotates so that the different blood samples can be tested and analyzed individually.
"The test tubes are bar coded so they easily can be identified," Morris adds. "It just makes sense to scan the bar codes on the test tubes right before the samples are analyzed."