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What Does a UPC Reader Do?

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What Does a UPC Reader Do?

Most people are probably familiar with a UPC reader even if they are not aware of it. This technology has been in existence for quite some time and likely a part of your daily life. Chances are whenever you make a purchase at your local grocer or department store chain; the products you buy are scanned using this type of tool, known as a UPC reader or a Barcode Scanner. Each specific item for sale contains a UPC or Universal Product Code. In the past, the most widely used code of this type was referred to as the version A code. Recent updates are requiring all users in the U.S. to transfer to what is known as an EAN/UCC 13 code. This code type has already been in use throughout most of the world and contains an extra digit in the barcode.

UPC Details

The more familiar version A code contains a series of twelve digits that are scanned by the UPC scanner. The digits in a version A code are arranged according to their use. The first number in each code is used to identify the product. For example, “0” is used to represent groceries or food products. The next ten digits are used to identify both the manufacturer’s code and the product code. The five digits for the manufacturer’s code are located on the left side of the barcode and the five digits for the product code on the right. Although a UPC reader checks all digits in the barcode, it can read the digits on the right side of the barcode separately from those on the left. The last digit in the barcode is known as the modulo check number. It can determine if all the other digits in the code were read properly. If an error is detected, the item needs to be scanned again by the UPC scanner.

UPC barcodes were originally only used by grocery stores in an effort to both keep track of their inventory and enable cashiers to process items more quickly. Their efficiency and reliability soon caused other retailers to implement the use of UPC readers. Today nearly all the items we purchase contain some type of UPC barcode.