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QR Barcode 2nd Sight Website

Many of our labor and product tracking systems utilize barcodes to track and trace. We often receive questions about whether 2nd Sight provides barcodes, or if there are required barcode specifications. In most cases, our software only requires a unique identifier. However, there are many types of barcodes and it can get overwhelming to choose. Each barcode serves a purpose. Here is a summary of the most common barcode formats and why one type may be better suited for a specific application.

1D Versus 2D
There are two main groups of barcodes, one-dimensional or “linear” and two-dimensional barcodes. A “1D” barcode is what you likely imagine when you hear the word “barcode”. The classic zebra stripe pattern encodes numbers (and in some cases letters and characters) that help identify a specific item or type of item. “2D” barcodes contain many small dots instead of bars and offer more storage potential and even better readability—regardless of printing size.

In specialty crop farming, 1D barcodes are often printed on apple and pear bin tags. The barcode provides a unique number that allows the packing house to identify various information about the crop. These bin tags offer an easy solution to start traceability in the field. When a grower can link the picker to the produce and provide a pick time and date, any issues that may arise down the supply chain can be traced back to the source so that other affected produce may also be identified quickly and accurately. Here are some examples of commonly used 1D barcodes.

UPC

Stands for: Universal Product Code
Purpose: Easily identify an object’s attributes, efficient product tracking
Benefits: Widely used
Applications:   Retail point of sale scanning
Count: UPC-A = 12 digits, UPC-E = 6 digits


EAN

Stands for: European Article Number
Purpose: Easily identify an object’s attributes, efficient product tracking
Benefits: Suitable for small locations, fast-scanning
Applications:   Retail point of sale scanning
Count EAN-13 = 13 digits, EAN-8 = 8 digits


Code128

Stands for: Use all 128 characters of ASCII (character encoding set)
Purpose: Encode large amounts of information (such as serial numbers)
Benefits: Compact, high-density, supports digits, letters, and many characters
Applications:   Logistics, transportation, shipping, and tracking
Count: Based on the application, size, and scanner capabilities


ITF

Stands for: Interleaved 2 of 5
Purpose: Label packaging materials (cardboard)
Benefits: Self-checking code suitable for printing on product packaging
Limitations: Can only encode numbers
Applications:   Many industries, product packaging
Count: 14 numeric digits


Code39

Stands for: Code 3 of 9
Purpose: Label goods
Benefits: Utilize both digits and characters, readable by many scanners
Limitations: Not suitable for small items
Applications:   Automotive, government, asset tracking
Count: 43 characters


2D barcodes are a newer category of barcodes that offer more data storage and increased readability to keep data scannable—even after being ripped or damaged. At 2nd Sight, we recently released a feature on our InstaCaliper and TallyTrak nursery inventory capture app that utilizes QR Codes to auto populate information. Typically, an operator would search through a drop-down menu to locate the correct field location, row number, and variety. Now, the nursery can follow a specific format to generate QR codes that store this information. The operator can scan the barcode to quickly populate the correct information, saving time and minimizing errors. Here are a few common 2D barcode types:


QR Codes

Stands for: Quick Response
Purpose: Encode a lot of information like web addresses (take a picture of the codes above) 
Benefits: Versatility, fault tolerance, numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary
Applications:   Retail, entertainment, marketing
Count: 7,089


Datamatrix Code

Stands for: Dots arranged in a square/rectangular pattern (matrix)
Purpose: Encode a lot of information on small items, goods, and documents
Benefits: Small footprint and readable in low resolution/unideal scanning positions
Applications:   Electronics, retail, government
Count: Numeric = 3116 Alphanumeric = 2335, Binary = 1556


PDF417

Stands for: Portable Data File
Purpose: Store huge amounts of data (photos, fingerprints, signatures)
Benefits: Versatility, fault tolerance, numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary
Applications:   Logistics, government
Count: Numeric = 1850, Digits = 2710, Bytes = 1108


Newer models of the 2nd Sight rugged handheld computer have built-in barcode readers that capture both 1D and 2D barcodes with a quick press of a button. In the reader configuration, a user can set the reader to register all common (and many uncommon) barcode types. Whether you print your own barcodes or purchase pre-printed barcodes, the first step is to determine if a 1D barcode will be able to hold all the required information. In many cases, a simple sting of numbers is enough to keep an item unique. We also recommend thinking of the proper material on which the barcode will be printed. In many cases, the barcode must be water-resistant, handle cold temperatures, and hold up to a bit of wear and tear.

 


 


FairPick Farm Harvest Scale

It is that time of year! Spring is in the air with brisk mornings and warm afternoons. More daylight is a welcomed change. FairPick’s are being wheeled out of storage… must be harvest time!

Days are getting busier as the fully vaccinated 2nd Sight team moves back to more “normal” life at the office. Once berry harvest in Florida and asparagus harvest in Washington begin, we keep busy until apples in the fall! For this post, I want to emphasize that change, like the welcomed change of the seasons, can be good, especially if it means less stress, shorter workdays, and happy workers. These are probably not words that come to mind when you think of harvest time. But maybe you could change that too. Do not let uncertainty or fear prevent you from moving your farm forward. Let’s talk about why you should pay by weight for your high value crop this harvest.

Paperless
Our slogan is “Ditch the Punch Cards”. Did you know that the cost of paper punch cards per employee for one harvest season is about the same as one RFID employee badge to log weights with the FairPick? Now imagine not having to count the punch cards at the end of the day. How many hours do you, your crew bosses, and your office staff spend performing this mundane task after an already long day of work? By using RFID employee badges and simple software, a lot of the work is done for you.

Accurate

Although a lug of cherries should contain 20 pounds of fruit, it is not often the case. When we first started field trials of the FairPick back in 2015, we ran the scale system alongside the grower’s punch card system. On average, a picker’s cherry lug would weigh 18.5 pounds when logged for credit. That is a lot of fruit that is being counted but not picked. If you pay by weight, a “full” picking bucket is not important. Workers understand that a full container saves them time because they can make fewer trips to the scale. Or, in some cases, the ability to weigh a half-filled bucket makes more sense. Regardless, exact weights registered electronically are key to an accurate system because guesswork is eliminated, and manual data entry is minimal.

Quiet Fields
From our customers, we learned that fields are quiet with the FairPick. Why? There is less arguing. A completely full bucket or lug is no longer a point to contest. Using a scale to register produce picked results in less fighting and favoritism between field bosses and pickers. A fair system results in happier workers. We have heard stories of pickers who moved from a neighboring farm to pick for a grower with FairPick scales. The added ability to print and take home receipts from all of our farm labor tracking systems is another bonus that improves transparency and builds trust.

Simple

Our goal is to design systems that minimize the learning curve. One challenge for the grower is using a system for a few months out of the year, then putting them away after harvest. We offer systems that allow you to track year-round, but during the intense harvest time if something is not easy to use the data collected is likely to be incorrect, or employees will refuse to use it at all. Designing simple hardware and software takes time and feedback from the people who use them the most. Our best software features and updates come from our customers.

Clean Bins
Another benefit of paying pickers by weight is clean bins. We continue to hear that cherry bins are “clean” (without many leaves) once they switched to the FairPick harvest scale. Leaves are not heavy but take up space in a lug. Workers soon find it is beneficial to clear more of this debris out before weighing. Also, the checker can focus on fruit quality and bin cleaning now that punching tickets is no longer required. The FairPick requires minimal supervision out in the field or orchard so that a checker can pay closer attention to what is being put into the bins or flats, not how much is being logged.

Still concerned about switching to a pay by weight system this harvest? We offer other options to track piecework electronically. However, if you are growing a high value specialty crop, the FairPick offers a simple and streamlined solution. The cost savings of improved payroll accuracy can often pay for one scale in only one harvest season. This quick ROI combined with these other benefits should help you take the next step to change your harvest process for the better.

 


 


2nd-Sight-Team-Engineers

Sometimes I forget to introduce myself. Why is this important? Knowing who you are can be just as important as knowing what you do. August will mark 2nd Sight’s seventh year in business, but we are still young in the Ag industry. For many growers, we are still an agtech start-up and considered risky to work with. Having a proven track record of successful products takes time and enough commitment from early adopters who are willing to take that leap of faith. A grower may want to know more about who 2nd Sight is before inquiring about what we do. Establishing credibility in an industry with long-time players is a challenge. You do not become John Deere overnight.

So instead of saying what 2nd Sight does, I would like to tell you more about who 2nd Sight is. We value quality, reliability, and innovation and every member of our team helps establish these principles. “Engineering Better Solutions for the Ag Industry” started with Kevin Oldenburg, Ph.D., our current CEO and President. After a short retirement, Kevin founded 2nd Sight to get back to his farming roots and bring automation to the Specialty Crop Industry. Kevin’s hobbies include cultivating a variety of crops in his own one-acre orchard and newly installed greenhouse, fishing, hunting, and is an active member of the WA State Beekeepers Association.

Kevin’s passion is to solve problems. His educational background as a Biochemist combined with his hands-on experience developing automation for the Biotech Industry at his last company, Matrical, gives him the ability to look at a problem in a new way. Kevin can also “run the numbers’ to ensure that automation and technology makes financial sense for an operation. The ROI (Return on Investment) is always a key calculation when we evaluate new automation for a grower.

Kevin’s vision to make farming more efficient and more profitable is attainable by developing quality systems that solve the biggest problems that growers face at a reasonable price. Alongside reliable products, we strive to provide top-notch support to keep the automation running. For a small company, the success of each customer is critical to establish credibility and develop a larger customer base.

In future blog posts, we will continue to feature other 2nd Sight employees. Being a small and “lean” organization means every person plays a critical role in the design, development, and support of our software and hardware systems. With life returning back to “normal” post-COVID-19, the entire 2nd Sight team looks forward to more time back in the office and enjoying Friday lunches together again.


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