What are 2-D Barcodes?

2-D Barcodes were initially QR codes and later evolved to tag barcodes that offer more flexibility and storage of information. 2-D Barcodes allow for a dynamic information feed that allow for an enhanced online experience and can be used with such things as mobile sites and smartphone applications. The content of a 2-D Barcode may be updated at anytime without having to change the physical tag. The 2-D Barcode’s ability to be updated in real-time, store large amounts of information, and dynamic nature make them very well suited for use in a supply chain.

2D Barcodes - An Introduction

2D Barcodes - An Introduction

2-D Barcodes in the Supply Chain

2-D barcodes have begun to increase in popularity throughout the supply chain realm. Their ability to hold much more information, improve efficiencies, and take up a smaller (physical) space, makes them a much more suitable alternative than their 1-D barcode predecessors. According to the website,, “Unlike 1-D barcode scanners, 2-D barcode scanners use an image sensor to capture the image of the barcode, so a 2-D scanner can read barcodes regardless of the barcode’s position.” This helps reduce the potential for errors, and also reduces the extra step of ensuring the barcode is in the correct position to be viewed by the reader.

While implementing this technology is still fairly expensive, long-term cost savings will result from improved efficiencies and reduced errors. One of the major benefits of 2-D barcodes is that they can still be interpreted by a reader/scanner even if they are damaged. 2-D barcodes can actually still be read with up to 60% damage to the barcode. This, in turn, means that they can be much more accurate than 1-D barcodes (which need to be almost perfectly unscathed to be interpreted). 

Healthcare 2D Barcode Scanner - WWS450H from Wasp Barcode-0

Healthcare 2D Barcode Scanner - WWS450H from Wasp Barcode-0


2-D Barcode Applications One of the major, recent pushes of 2-D barcodes has been in an industry where small inventory errors, can translate into massive problems. The industry I am referring to here is healthcare. Various hospitals, such as Bingham and Women’s Hospital, The Robert Ballanger Hospital, and others have begun switching over to 2-D barcode technology. The barcodes have been used on their prescription medicines and other vital healthcare components. This conversion has greatly reduced the error risk associated with medicines and accidently giving patients the wrong prescription. The results of this process have been astronomical for the hospitals and have even helped to save the lives of many patients.

But hospitals are not the only ones who have been benefiting from the 2-D barcode’s efficiency and real-time inventory management abilities.  Industries such as Retail, Grocery, Manufacturing, Technology, and even Telecommunications have all slowly begun to adapt this supply chain advancement. As the technology becomes more widely-adapted, prices will become more reasonable and many more businesses will be able to reap the benefits of this SCM advancement. 

Not to mention, they are also great from a marketing perspective!


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