Cognex DataMan Barcode Readers Want to Help You Accelerate Tracking and Logistics

October 05, 2023 by Seth Price

A wide field of view lets Cognex's new DataMan readers capture multiple barcodes faster and more accurately.

At first glance, barcode readers should be pretty familiar kit. In grocery stores for decades barcodes have been on everything, tracking inventory and ringing up purchases in the checkout lane. Each barcode corresponds to a specific stock-keeping unit (SKU), and when scanned can automatically provide the price at the register and decrease the existing inventory, perhaps automating the order for more products in a fully integrated system.

Traditional barcode readers scan one in dimension. Careful observers will notice that the barcode has lines that are uniformly spaced and virtually identical in one direction. The barcode reader only has to capture a coded stripe of light and dark sections. A 2D barcode, on the other hand, gives more possibilities and combinations for products. Instead of the scanner at the grocery store, think instead of a phone’s camera capturing a Quick Response  (QR) code. In this instance, scanners must be able to detect the pattern as an area of black and white marks. This reduces the number of erroneous scans and increases the number of new products that can be cataloged. 

Commercial Applications

While the general public encounters barcode scanners at the grocery store, they are commonly used in picking, packing, and shipping departments in large manufacturing facilities. Just like the grocery store, they can be used to track inventory as it moves through the factory. Each barcode may link to an individual product or lot. 

As an example, think of several engineers pondering over a quality excursion. They have had several products show up out of specifications and are trying to find the common thread between them. If inventory tracking is used effectively, such as reading barcodes at each step of the process, they can look for the problem tool or process that is leading to the defective products, as well as predict which other products might be affected.


Cognex new Dataman 380 series scanners simplify barcode reading operations with a single reader.

Cognex's new Dataman 380 series scanners simplify barcode reading operations with a single reader. Image used courtesy of Cognex


DataMan 380 Sees it All, Faster

Why the hype about a barcode reader, even if it can scan 2D barcodes? Unlike a smartphone’s QR reader, the DataMan 380 is faster at capturing QR codes on products whizzing by. It uses image analysis and a buffering system to capture fast-moving barcodes as they pass on a conveyor or in a storage bin. Furthermore, each image can contain multiple barcodes and AI can be used to detect and catalog every barcode in the lot. DataMan 380 barcode scanners offer system engineers:

  • An image-based barcode reader the DataMan 380 series delivers to operators insightful, actionable data by capturing and product tracking and other package information at high speed. 
  • Higher throughput. AI-assisted decoding accelerates throughput during multi-symbology reading.
  • Reliability and accuracy. Its wide FoV and advanced image formation technology capture clear images in challenging environments.
  • Simplified deployments and setup.

According to Cognex, systems designers can run logistics lines at higher speeds with 1D/2D QuickSort™ an embedded technology that Cognex says delivers exceptional read rates during high-speed operations by leveraging AI to isolate barcodes using a single processor.

Throughput and read rates, explains Cognex, are accelerated by the device's wide field-of-view (FoV ) that covers larger surface areas across manufacturing and logistics lines. Cognext notes by combining a high-resolution imager and advanced decoding technologies, the reader is capable of covering larger surface areas as well as scanning damaged or obscured barcodes.


1D/2D QuickSort accelerates throughput by locating codes faster with AI and simultaneously decoding 1D/2D codes.

1D/2D QuickSort accelerates throughput by locating codes faster with AI and simultaneously decoding 1D/2D codes. Image used courtesy of Cognex


An Efficient Way to Scan Multi-Coded Products Accurately

Visualize the grocery store barcode reader again. Suppose it was fast enough and could detect multiple codes at once, scanning the entire contents of the cart as items pass by on the belt.

Although it may be easier to overlook technology that is considered mature, not all improvements in automation require advanced innovation, fancy control systems, or elaborate software. Cognex recognizes the efficiency gains that can be had by improving mature but proven technology. Engineered to do their job and do it well, DataMan 380s are likely to find their way into manufacturing and warehousing systems that recognize the need to improve the speed of packaging and inventory tracking.