4 Surprising Places You May See UPC Barcodes
Barcodes identity a product with a unique code. When a scanner reads the code, it sends information to a database to help retailers and warehouses keep track of inventory.
Barcodes don’t contain prices: the store maintains the price of every item in its point of sale/inventory software, so when the scanner picks up the barcode, the database supplies the price at the point of sale, and customers see it on the screen as they rack up their purchases.
We all have come to expect barcodes on grocery items, clothing, shoeboxes, handbags, and just about anything you could buy in a drugstore or other retail establishment. But barcodes may appear in unexpected places. Here are 4 surprising places you may see UPC barcodes.
Frat boys sometimes fail to return their kegs—what a surprise! But even beer distributors and bars sometimes fail to send the kegs back to the brewery. Barcodes help breweries track their inventory. The codes help them know where a keg went, and identify kegs that didn’t come back. Go after their lost kegs can save brewers a compiled 16 million dollars or more.
The Top Racks in a Warehouse
Modern warehouses can contain racks of pallets several stories high. Instead of sending a worker high up in a bucket truck type lifter, they can now equip a drone with a barcode reader and fly it up there to take inventory or locate pallets of goods.
Illegal logging damages ecosystems and robs legitimate logging operations of revenue. Now, barcodes can identify harvested trees to show they were legally cut down. Trees without barcodes are presumed to have been taken illegally. While barcodes may not stop illegal logging, it can assist in sustainable forestry operations.
Images of Bees
You can’t stick a barcode label on a bee’s back very well. But you can use cameras to record patters that translate into readable black and white images that can then be decoded according to the BEEtag system. This manner of tracking bees can track hundreds of bees at a time by assigning a barcode to patterns that appear on individual bees in images.
Hospital Patients and Lab Samples
Take a good look at that bracelet you get when you check in to a hospital for a scan, or when a lab tech labels vials of your blood they just extracted. It’s likely you’ll see a barcode along with your name. Hospitals and medical practices use barcode technology to minimize mix-ups and medical errors. They’re certainly an improvement on the notoriously bad handwriting of medical professionals!
Retailers must buy a barcode for every product they sell. An international organization called GS1 (Global Standards 1) then gives the product a unique identification. You expect to see barcodes in grocery stores and clothing boutiques. But these unlikely places you may find barcodes give a new perspective on how broadly a variety of professions use barcodes. Keep your eyes peeled, and you may discover more barcodes in unexpected places!