Charge Coupled Device Scanners: Catching Up To Laser?
Charge coupled device (CCD) scanners are no longer playing second fiddle to laser scanners. Two industry members discuss how you can add value to both scanner types.
The growth of laser bar-code scanners still exceeds that of charge coupled device (CCD) scanners, but CCD is quickly closing the gap, statistics show.
According to Venture Development Corp., an information-gathering organization, supplier revenues from laser bar-code scanners grew 16.1% from 1996 to 1997. However, supplier revenues from CCD scanners grew at nearly the same rate, 14.9%, from 1996-97.
Historically, laser has been the scanner of choice in automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) applications, partially because it provides a greater read range than CCD. However, CCD scanners are becoming more popular as two-dimensional symbologies are becoming common in applications like electronics and small parts marking. CCD scanners, which capture the entire image of a symbology, are better at reading compact, high-density, 2-D symbologies.
Indeed, other statistics from Venture Development (VDC) confirm the growth of CCD. In 1995, CCD scanners (in number of units) accounted for 19% of the overall North American scanner market; laser accounted for 38.5% of the market. In 1996, however, CCD scanners accounted for 25% of the overall North American market, while laser's share, in number of units, actually declined slightly, to 35%.
(Pen/wand units account for the rest of the market. However, VDC doesn't classify pen/wand scanners as either laser or CCD).
Recent Developments In Scanning
Business Systems Magazine interviewed two industry members for their thoughts on trends in scanning.
According to Andy Storment, executive vice president for Percon, Incorporated, bar-code scanner prices have fallen 40%-50% over the last two to three years. With 111 employees, Percon (Eugene, OR) is a manufacturer of bar-code scanners and radio-frequency, portable data collection terminals. For the three months ended March, 1998, Percon's sales rose 17% to $7.1 million.
Two years ago, list prices on many laser scanners were $1200, Storment says. Now, list pricing is $600-$700.
Resellers have lost profit margins as a result of the decreases. At the same time, though, Storment says the price decreases have been beneficial in one respect. "As scanners have become more affordable, it has become easier for users to cost justify them."
VAR Action Points
Though scanners are easier to sell, resellers can't lose sight of the importance of providing a value add, according to Vincent Shu, general manager of Unitech. Unitech (Los Alamitos, CA) manufactures bar-code scanners and RF, portable data collection terminals.
Shu says resellers can add value in three primary ways:
- Provide post-sale service and support.
- Provide systems integration services.
Limit your application focus - Two-dimensional symbologies are ideal for labeling the minute items commonly found in electronics and small-parts-marking applications. Many of these items are too small to be labeled with linear bar codes. Linear bar codes also cannot store as much information as 2-D symbologies.
By focusing on a limited number of applications, resellers can better understand those types of scanning- and label-related application needs, Storment adds.