Preview of VDC's Barcode Label Generation Software Report

by Richa Gupta | 12/18/2013

Barcode labeling is mission-critical to everyday operations for many enterprises. Organizations continue to invest in and adopt barcode technologies to accomplish a multitude of business objectives, including improving operations, ensuring compliance with industry standards, gaining visibility into processes, and associating more information with assets, products, and personnel. The demand for barcode label generation software has grown with the expanding adoption of barcode technology systems as a whole. When it comes to software, having fewer moving parts translates to better reliability. Flexibility, configurability and solution customizability are critical criteria influencing enterprise end users’ label software purchasing decision. Read more

Walmart’s Adoption of the PTI Compliance Mandate and What it means for the Produce Sector

by Richa Gupta | 12/02/2013

In an effort to achieve greater transparency in the supply chain and to ensure customer confidence in their product, Walmart has mandated that their fresh produce suppliers must use case labels compliant with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI). Walmart began enforcing the mandate as of November 1, 2013 but will not begin rejecting produce until January 1, 2014 in an effort to work with suppliers. With Walmart leading the way, other retailers are sure to follow suit. Read more

VDC Research’s Takeaways from the 24th Annual IMI Thermal Printing Conference

by Richa Gupta | 11/22/2013

I recently presented at the 24th Annual Thermal Printing Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. The only one of its kind, this conference is dedicated to thermal printing – with industry veterans coming together to discuss historical performance, current and emerging product development trends, market expansion strategies, and their collective vision for the future of this industry. Ongoing advancements in wireless communication, electronic documentation, and mobile device innovation (and adoption) will have a significant impact on the thermal printing market, with the potential to revolutionize the way vendors and their partners approach their sales and business development initiatives. Read more

Living on the "Edge" - Breaking Down Zebra Technologies' Investment in ZBD Displays

by Richa Gupta | 10/25/2013

The market for Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) is entering the next phase of its evolution thanks to a recent plot twist. Zebra Technologies, the global leader in barcode printing solutions, recently was part of a $25 million round of investment in ESL provider ZBD Displays. A disruptive alternative to traditional paper-based shelf edge labels, this technology is gaining increased consideration among the global retailer community, and now it seems leading AutoID vendors as well. Read more

Loftware Broadens its Range of Offerings with Spectrum – A Game-Changer?

by Richa Gupta | 10/10/2013

Loftware, a dominant player in the label generation software market, recently announced the release of its highly anticipated product targeted at tier-1 enterprises, Spectrum. Branded as the only 100% browser-based enterprise labeling solution, Spectrum is Loftware’s premier end-to-end solution designed to address the most complex enterprise labeling requirements. The company aims to assert itself as the industry leader with this new offering, an innovative and comprehensive solution to empower users across an enterprise’s supply chain. Read more

Honeywell's Acquisition of Intermec Finally Comes Through

by Richa Gupta | 09/26/2013

More than 9 months after Honeywell declared its intent to acquire Intermec, the Federal Trade Commission announced its decision to place conditions on this proposed merger. The FTC took issue with the competitive impact on the 2D scan engine market rather than challenge the more obvious areas that industry observers believed to be behind the delay (and request for additional information) – Intermec’s rugged mobile device and RFID business divisions. While a relatively small market in revenue size, the scan engine component itself is critical to the barcode scanning function. VDC believes this product category is of growing strategic importance today. Read more

Out With the Old – Breathing New Life into Barcode Technology Deployments

by Richa Gupta | 09/25/2013

We read countless articles on current and emerging barcode applications in retail, logistics and manufacturing environments. It is not very often that you come across new and interesting applications outside of these traditional verticals in developing economies. This is why a recent news article about barcode use across all departments at the University of Pune was most refreshing. Read more

Honeywell Continues to Embrace the BYOD Trend with Upgrades to its RDM Solution

by Richa Gupta | 08/06/2013

When Honeywell introduced its remote device management (RDM) solution, Remote MasterMind (ReM), in early 2009, it was exclusively designed for Honeywell hardware (both rugged mobile devices as well as barcode scanners). In 2011, the company upgraded this solution to include any device with the Windows Mobile operating system. Over time, however, the wide range of devices available and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has made RDM implementation particularly challenging because of device compatibility limitations. Enterprises considering and deploying consumer-grade devices have a need for platform-agnostic device management and maintenance solutions. Read more

Zebra's New MotionWorks Sports Solution Aims to Change the RTLS Game

by Michael Liard | 08/01/2013

Earlier this week Zebra Technologies announced the release of MotionWorks Sports Solution, a RTLS solution specifically designed for sports. Using ultra wide band (UWB) RTLS receivers placed around stadiums, active RFID tags are placed in players’ jerseys in order to keep accurate track of player movement within inches. This solution is able to provide objective data, such as speed, location and movement direction and process the data for tangible uses. MotionWorks promises to lead to not only a new age of advanced sports analytics, but also enhancements to broadcasts, player safety and a broad array of coaching benefits. Read more

3M Narrows Passive UHF RFID Application Focus to AVI, EVR and ITS

by Michael Liard | 07/16/2013

In September of 2012, 3M acquired Federal Signals Technologies (FSTech) from Federal Signal Corporations. FSTech competed in electronic toll collection (ETC) and automatic vehicle identification (AVI) markets through its subsidiary Sirit, a passive UHF solutions provider specializing in readers. With the acquisition, 3M aimed to increase its overall RFID presence, augmenting its strong position in the high frequency (HF)-focused e-ID (i.e., e-passport) market. Sirit’s high-performance readers were also being used by customers in supply chain environments for work-in-process, asset management, item-level and other applications. Read more

SML Group Acquires Software Provider Xterprise

by Michael Liard | 07/12/2013

Many experts in the RFID space have been expecting intense consolidation in the space for some time, but to no avail. We have seen pockets of activity over the years, but not enough to significantly impact the competitive landscape and value chain. In the past, I have referred to the RFID software space as one area where hardware manufacturers and solutions providers could augment and enhance their RFID offerings and value add to customers and partners, especially in key verticals. It appears that SML Group, an apparel branding and packaging group based in China, agrees with me. Read more

DC Velocity Talks Item-Level RFID and Distribution Centers with VDC’s Mike Liard

by Michael Liard | 06/30/2013

More and more companies are turning to item-level RFID tagging to boost inventory accuracy throughout the supply chain. So, DC VELOCITY magazine asks: How will this affect distribution centers? To find out, Susan Lacefield, Associate Managing Editor of the publication, sought insights from industry experts. Read more

The RFID Application Invasion Marches On

by Michael Liard | 06/28/2013

The potential uses of RFID are limitless. As prices of RFID tags and readers decrease, some RFID applications continue to strengthen this view of boundlessness. Perusing through articles of recent RFID deployments, three stood out for their creativity: Taipei’s use of RFID to rid the streets of manhole covers; Fleye’s use of RFID to capture extreme sports video footage; and Friedrich Dick’s Knifeinspector solution to track and manage knives and other meat cutting equipment while enabling worker accountability and compliance with hygienic standards. Read more

What You See is Just Not What You Eat Anymore

by Richa Gupta | 06/28/2013

China has evolved into one of the leading barcode technology deploying nations from Asia-Pacific over the past 2-3 years. That being said, however, vendors have consistently struggled to get their products to the Chinese mass market. This is due to a combination of factors including users’ preference for local suppliers and extreme price competition. The economic boom that the country has seen over the past two decades has propelled it to global superpower status, one that it evidently wants to protect. Read more

Is this the end of barcode labels as we know it?

by Richa Gupta | 06/27/2013

The barcode label printer market is fairly mature. Purpose-built barcode printers are largely based on the relatively lower cost thermal technology. Laser, inkjet and dot-matrix (impact) printers are all, however, part of the market equation to a certain degree. Regardless of the underlying print technology, one aspect of barcode label printing that has not changed much in the mass market adoption of barcode labels is the look itself. A significant majority of labels in circulation today – on products, packages and other assets – are black-and-white. Read more

What is Shaking Up the Barcode Technology Market?

by Richa Gupta | 05/29/2013

It is that time of the year again when we close out conversations with barcode technology vendors –outlining market performance, channel partner dynamics, product development and adoption trends and their outlook for the future. 2012 was a mixed bag year for market participants. In this blog post, I highlight the top stories coming out of the barcode technology space in 2013. Read more

How does Legislation Impact Barcode Technology Adoption?

by Richa Gupta | 04/18/2013

The Indian government issued a three-phase barcode labeling mandate back in 2010-11 for manufacturers and exporters from the pharmaceuticals industry. This was a direct result of counterfeit or spurious drugs seized by African regulatory authorities that had “Made in India” labels pasted on them but were found to have originated in another country. The need to enforce regulations to ensure source traceability and prevent unwarranted liability became a critical requirement for the government. While they have already enforced barcodes on tertiary and secondary level packaging, several media outlets reported that the upcoming deadline to affix barcodes on primary level packaging has been extended by a year – deferred from July 1, 2013 to the same date in 2014. Read more

Cognex watching Microscan’s products like a “Hawk”; files IP infringement claim

by Richa Gupta | 04/08/2013

Cognex recently filed a lawsuit against Microscan Systems alleging patent infringement by their Mobile Hawk product used to read Direct Part Mark (DPM) codes. With Microscan contesting this claim and calling it “without merit”, we can expect to see a long drawn-out battle. Cognex has been working towards aggressively expanding its lower cost barcode scanning product line to keep up with rising demand and capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunity in relatively under-penetrated regions and verticals. While the company’s intellectual property-related battles have historically been limited to Machine Vision technology, this development suggests an increasing focus on protecting its IP in the high-growth barcode scanner market, especially around camera-based imaging technology.  Read more

A Logical RFID Application That Still Carries Some Heavy "Baggage"

by Michael Liard | 03/31/2013

case just makes sense. Yet, after more than decade, this application market still struggles with historical issues. Although the benefits of the technology are clear, there have only been a small number of deployments worldwide. As adoption is most challenged by cost concerns, implementation challenge considerations and long-standing disagreements over who should pay for the system (airlines or airports). Read more

What makes a smart city smart? It must be AutoID.

by Michael Liard | 03/30/2013

What makes a smart city smart? That is a key question as our team researches smart cities and how AutoID technologies are enabling them. Although the term smart city means different things to different people and is used inconsistently to define various projects, I believe RFID, RTLS, contactless and NFC are critical elements of the smart city of tomorrow. The formal definition of a smart city generally includes variations of the following elements: a smart economy; smart mobility; smart environment; smart living; smart governance and smart technology. Read more

Can Laser Scanning Technology Stay Strong at the Retail POS?

by Richa Gupta | 03/04/2013

There is an interesting bit of news for the barcode technology industry that came in from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. Mobeam, a technology company focused on enabling laser scanners to capture data from mobile devices at the point-of-sale checkout, announced a partnership with ams, one of the leading providers of proximity sensors to smartphone manufacturers, with an aim to revolutionize the mobile coupon redemption landscape. This strategic alliance combines ams’ light sensors with Mobeam’s patented light-based communications technology. Read more

What, did you say, is in my burger? – Averting a PR Nightmare Using Barcodes

by Richa Gupta | 02/11/2013

Track-and-trace is well-regarded as the most important capability afforded by barcode labeling. Enterprises across economic sectors and installation environments have, over the years, extensively leveraged this feature to enhance visibility into their supply chains and keep a close watch on the movement of goods. I came across this post on the Enterprise Labeling site run by Loftware, one of the leading barcode label generation software solutions vendors, a few days ago. Read more

Dissecting Honeywell’s Intermec Acquisition: The Potential Road Ahead

by Richa Gupta | 02/08/2013

Yes, it has been a few weeks since Honeywell announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Intermec. While this continues to be subject to regulatory approvals, in this blog post I share some thoughts on how this deal may shape up and impact the barcode vendor landscape. Intermec is an active participant in two barcode technology hardware markets – Barcode Printers and Handheld Barcode Scanners. The company has a relatively small presence in the barcode scanning market, with a recent entry into the general purpose scanner space. Read more

Datalogic Reaffirms Stationary Point-of-Sale Leadership Position with Launch of Magellan 9800i

by Richa Gupta | 01/18/2013

Vendors and users have long compared and contrasted the speed and performance of laser-based scanning with camera-based imaging solutions. Improved functionality, lower costs and enhanced barcode scanning speeds have all contributed to the widespread installation and integration of imagers to support several applications in varied markets. Successful penetration in high transaction volume environments has been non-existent, particularly given concerns surrounding their relative inability to maintain high throughput without compromising on features including, say, image quality. Until now. Read more

Would You Pay Extra to Pay with NFC? Neither Would We.

by Richa Gupta | 01/09/2013

Here’s a hypothetical decision: Would you pay $60 for an NFC-enabled iPhone case that enables you to pay via your smartphone—but only at ISIS partner merchants in Salt Lake City and Austin? Or, would you prefer to pay anywhere (at no additional cost) with old-fashioned cash or credit/debit cards? The choice seems absurdly clear—the vast majority (we would estimate 99%) of consumers will choose cash or card payment. Read more

Motorola Solutions Looks to Capture Retail POS Share with New Bioptic Imager

by Richa Gupta | 01/08/2013

By all accounts, 2013 seems very eager to live up to its promise of being an interesting year for the barcode technology market. To start off, Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI) made a new product announcement today – the multi-plane 100% camera-based bioptic imager/scale MP6000 – the company’s first foray into the high-volume stationary POS scanning market. What makes this particularly interesting is that up until today, Motorola was the only player from among the BIG THREE in the overall barcode scanner market (the others being Datalogic and Honeywell) with no stationary POS offering for high-throughput retail environments. We expect MSI to sell this product into grocery stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, mass merchandisers and other such big box retailers. Read more