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Barcoding Business Letter Services. Introduction Barcoding is an important part of Australia Posts strategy to improve services to customers mailing bulk.

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Presentation on theme: "Barcoding Business Letter Services. Introduction Barcoding is an important part of Australia Posts strategy to improve services to customers mailing bulk."— Presentation transcript:

1 Barcoding Business Letter Services

2 Introduction Barcoding is an important part of Australia Posts strategy to improve services to customers mailing bulk quantities of letters. In this module This module covers the structure, format and printing requirements of 4- state barcodes. Learning outcomes By the end of this module, you will be able to: identify a 4-state barcode understand the structure of a barcode understand the format of a barcode understand the barcode printing requirements

3 Barcoding at a glance What is a barcode? A barcode is a machine readable representation of information, usually printed as parallel lines. A barcode can be read by barcode readers or scanners and improves the speed and accuracy of data capture and processing. When Australia Post embarked on its FuturePost project in the late 1990s, it introduced new mail sorting equipment. Barcodes were key to the success of this new equipment. The introduction of the barcode speeds up the processing and sorting of mail for delivery within Australia. The barcode used by Australia Post is called a 4-state barcode. FuturePost was the name given to the project which involved restructuring Australia Posts mail and delivery networks to incorporate barcoding.

4 Barcoding at a glance Benefits of barcoding Barcoding provides the following benefits: Simplified pre-sorting requirements Enhanced service. Barcodes can be read faster and more accurately than address text. This improves sorting efficiency Greater addressing flexibility. Using barcodes, the range of fonts and envelope layouts is enhanced Simplified pricing structure. The efficiencies created by barcoding means cost reductions can be passed on to customers

5 Barcoding at a glance Customer responsibilities To take advantage of barcoding, you need to do the following: Review (and modify if necessary) your customer database on a regular basis to accommodate the eight digit Delivery Point Identifier (DPID) Validate your customer database against Australia Posts Postal Address File (PAF), using approved address-matching and correction software (AMAS). This software appends the correct DPID Print the barcode using AMAS or alternative barcode printing software This module provides an overview of barcodes, their structure, formats and printing considerations. Some of the information about barcoding is quite technical, so refer to the Customer Barcoding Technical Specifications booklet for more explanation. This booklet is available from the Australia Post website (auspost.com.au).

6 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode overview Introduction Within a barcode, the bars are separated into fields. Each field contains bar symbols, coded according to an Encoding Table. These symbols represent characters. Characters are a further set of codes which represent Australia Post sorting rules and other information. Fields have the following characteristics: each field has a fixed number of bars allocated to it each field is assigned a particular Encoding Table. The bars within a field are coded into symbols by the Encoding Table The exact configuration of the bars in a particular field depends on the barcodes format. Several set formats are available and are described later in this module. Encoding Tables are also described later. Fields in the Customer Barcode 3

7 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode overview Barcodes and bulk mail services The table below lists each Bulk Mail Service and whether a barcode is required for discounted postage rates. ProductBarcode required? PreSort LettersYes Charity MailYes Acquisition MailYes Impact MailNo Clean MailNo Print PostNo Reply PaidYes Unaddressed MailNo The printing of barcodes on Clean Mail is not required, although if printed the barcode must be correct. The printing of barcodes on Print Post articles is encouraged. If a correct barcode is printed then customers are not subject to the correct addressing requirements for the Residue and CBD Sort Divisions.

8 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode overview Four states The barcode used by Australia Post is called a 4-state barcode. This barcode comprises four types of bars (states), each of which is identified by both a name and a value. The diagram below shows the four states and the value of each of the bars. These states are explained on the next page.

9 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode overview Four states Each bar comprises a tracker (middle section), to which an ascender (top section) and/or descender (bottom section) may be added. This creates four possible bar states: Tracker with ascender and descender Tracker with ascender Tracker with descender Tracker on its own

10 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode overview Four states Each of these states has a name and a corresponding numerical value: H - Tracker with ascender and descender A - Tracker with ascender D - Tracker with descender T - Tracker on its own

11 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode overview Encoding Tables The bars in a barcode only make sense when referenced to Encoding Tables. The Encoding Tables assign groups of bars/values to specific characters. There are two main Encoding Tables: N Encoding Table - creates two bar symbols from the numbers C Encoding Table - creates three bar symbols for combinations of uppercase and lowercase characters, space and # symbols and numbers More information about Encoding Tables, bar values and symbols is available in the Customer Barcoding Technical Specifications booklet.

12 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode structure Overview To be eligible for postage discounts, customer barcodes must comply with Australia Post requirements. Approved 4-state barcodes comprise the following components (fields), with each field using a specific number of bars to represent characters and codes: Start bars Format Control Code (FCC) DPID Customer information field Reed Solomon error correction Stop bars

13 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode structure Start bars Start bars are the first 2 bars in the barcode. These bars assist the barcode reader to identify the start of the barcode and always contain the bar values of 1 and 3. The start bars ensure that the beginning of the barcode can never be mistaken, even when the barcode is upside down.

14 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode structure Format Control Code (FCC) The FCC is a two digit number that identifies the type of barcode and always comprises 4 bars. The value of the FCC determines what type of barcode it is. The table opposite shows the current FCCs and the barcode lengths they apply to. Invalid FCCs cause mail articles to be rejected. FCCDescriptionBarcode Length 00Null Customer Barcode37, 52, Standard Customer Barcode Reply Paid Domestic Barcode 52 59Customer Barcode Customer Barcode 367 Reply Paid Domestic Barcode Reply Paid International Barcode Reply Paid International Barcode 67 Zero (Null) value DPID and Format Control Code (FCC) Customers can include their own information in order to monitor returns for campaigns and orders. This information can be captured in either a 52 or 67 length 4- state barcode. The format control codes to use are 59 and 62 respectively. On the occasion where a DPID has failed to be assigned, customers can use a zero value format control which essentially assigns zero values to both the format control code and DPID. If the article is returned it can still be scanned and the appended return/order tracking information captured.

15 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode structure DPID The Delivery Point Identifier (DPIP) is an eight digit number that uniquely identifies a physical point to which Australia Post delivers mail. The point can be the letterbox of a house, a PO Box, a Rural Mailbag or other delivery point. Each delivery point in Australia is allocated a unique DPID. The DPID field comprises 16 bars in the barcode. Reed Solomon error correction The Reed Solomon error correction field performs a backup or quality control function for the barcode. The bars enable the barcode to be resistant to errors or erasures caused by faulty printing, too much reflectance on window panels or smudging. There are always 12 of these bars in the barcode. For more information about Reed Solomon error correction, refer to Barcode fields in the Customer Barcoding Technical Specifications booklet. Stop bars The Stop bars are the last 2 bars in the barcode. These bars assist the barcode reader to identify the end of the barcode and always contain the bar values of 1 and 3. Like the Start bars, the Stop bars ensure that the bar is read correctly, even when the barcode is upside down. Customer information field The Customer information field is a section in the barcode reserved for customers to store their own information. It is only available in the 52 and 67 length barcodes. These bars can be coded by either of the two Encoding Tables. Alternatively, customers can encode these bars themselves using their own proprietary techniques. The Customer information field occupies 16 bars in the 52 length barcode, or 31 bars in the 67 length barcode.

16 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Introduction The fields, number of bars and codes used in a particular barcode depend on the barcodes format. Three barcode formats are available for customer barcoding, with a fourth format for the Reply Paid service. Note the FFC and number of bars shown in each barcode format in the following diagram. Also note the example barcode below. FCCDescriptionBarcode Length 00Null Customer Barcode37, 52, 67 11Standard Customer Barcode37 52Reply Paid Domestic Barcode52 59Customer Barcode Customer Barcode 367 Reply Paid Domestic Barcode67 72Reply Paid International Barcode52 77Reply Paid International Barcode67

17 Example – Standard Customer Barcode (37bars) Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Standard customer barcode The Standard Customer Barcode (or 37 length barcode) is the most commonly used 4-state barcode. It contains the minimum information within the barcode for delivery. This barcode has the following format. Bar position FieldCodeNo. of bars 1-2Start bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 3-6FCCN Table4 7-22DPIDN Table16 23Filler bar3 (T bar) Reed Solomon Bar to Decimal table Stop bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2

18 Example - Customer Barcode 2 (52 bars) Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Customer barcode 2 Customer Barcode 2 (or 52 length barcode) is essentially the same as the Standard Customer Barcode. The main difference is that this barcode allows for customer information to be included within the barcode. This barcode has the following format. Bar position FieldCodeNo. of bars 1-2Start bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 3-6Format Control Code N Table4 7-22DPIDN Table Customer Information Free Format Reed SolomonBar to Decimal table Stop bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 As the Customer Information part of the barcode is for use by the customer, the customer can choose to code the information using their own codes or they can use the N Encoding Table, or the C Encoding Table.

19 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Customer barcode 3 Customer Barcode 3 (or 67 length barcode) is essentially the same as Customer Barcode 2. The main difference is this barcode allows for more customer information to be included within the barcode. This barcode has the following format. Bar position FieldCodeNo. of bars 1-2Start bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 3-6Format Control CodeN Table4 7-22DPIDN Table Customer Information Free Format Reed SolomonBar to Decimal table Stop bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 Example - Customer Barcode 3 (67 bars)

20 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Reply Paid barcode The format of the Reply Paid barcode differs slightly to the other Customer Barcodes. The Reply Paid barcode includes a Response Number that relates to the particular Reply Paid service. The Reply Paid barcode comes in two lengths: 52 length barcode 67 length barcode The format of each barcode is explained on the following pages.

21 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Reply Paid barcode 52 length Bar position FieldCodeNo. of bars 1-2Start bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 3-6Format Control CodeN Table4 7-22DPIDN Table Response NumberN Table Customer Information – 52 length Free Format Reed SolomonBar to Decimal table Stop bars1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 Example – Reply Paid Barcode (52 bars)

22 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Reply Paid barcode 67 length Bar position FieldCodeNo. of bars 1-2Start bars 1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 3-6Format Control CodeN Table4 7-22DPIDN Table Response NumberN Table Customer Information – 67 length Free Format Reed SolomonBar to Decimal table Stop bars1 (A bar) 3 (T bar) 2 Example – Reply Paid Barcode (67 bars)

23 Advanced: Barcoding Barcode formats Summary To qualify for the Bulk Mail Services discount postage rates, a barcode is printed on the mail article with the address details. The barcode: is a machine readable representation of information comes in 3 different lengths: 37, 52, 67 is called a 4-state barcode because it contains 4 different types of bars must follow a specific structure set by Australia Post structure for the Reply Paid barcode differs slightly to the Customer Barcode For more information about barcodes refer to the Customer Barcoding Technical Specifications and the Australia Post website (auspost.com.au).

24 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Introduction The 4-state barcode must follow a particular barcode structure and format as specified by Australia Post. It must also follow specific printing requirements as specified by Australia Post. The specific printing requirements for the 4-state barcode ensure the barcode is of a suitable standard for the Australia Post sorting equipment to read and process the barcoded mail articles efficiently. Barcodes that dont follow the specific printing requirements can result in: mail articles being rejected during processing reduced processing speeds because the barcode is more difficult to read the full postage rate being charged rather than the discounted rate The specific printing requirements of the barcode refer to the: barcode length individual bar dimensions skew reflectance Quiet Zone

25 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Barcode length When printed, each 4-state barcode has a minimum and maximum size it must comply with to ensure efficient reading of the barcode and processing of the mail article, as outlined below. BarcodeMin Length (mm)Max Length (mm)

26 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Bar dimensions The individual bars and spaces within the barcode have their own minimum and maximum measurements. These are important because any major variations can cause the sorting equipment to reject the mail article. Bar typeMin (mm)Max (mm) Bar gap Bar width Each bar has a minimum and maximum height. As well as the height of each the bar, the width and gap also have a minimum and maximum size.

27 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Barcode skew When a barcode is printed on a mail article, occasionally it may not be printed straight (skewed). This can happen if the mail article was not lined up correctly when moving through the printer or the mail article shifted during the print process. A certain amount of skew (called tolerance) is allowed, as the sorting equipment is still able to read slightly skewed barcodes without causing any processing issues. There are two types of skew: code skew – refers to the skew of the whole barcode in relation to the bottom edge of the mail article. A code skew of +/- 5 degrees is acceptable. bar skew – refers to the skew of individual bars within the barcode. A bar skew of +/- 5 degrees is acceptable.

28 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Reflectance Given the colour of the envelope, patterns in the envelope and colour of ink used to print the barcode can affect machine reading of the barcode, the reflectance of the barcode needs to be within a specific range. Reflectance is the degree to which light reflects from a surface. Barcode reader devices are sensitive to the reflectance of the following: printed barcode space around the barcode window material through which barcodes are scanned, when a window face envelope is used Barcode reader devices operate within a spectral range. The material on which the barcode is printed (the substrate) must be opaque, to prevent unwanted information showing through and obscuring the barcode. A specific range of wavelengths or light, from a minimum to a maximum, often named after a central value. The value of 633 nanometers is visible light, while 900 nanometers represents infrared light. Within the range nanometers, the following measurements must be met: maximum bar reflectance (Rb) is 25%; and, minimum space reflectance (Rs) is 50%; Opaque: not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through. Opacity is the property of a substrate material that minimizes show-through from the back side or the next sheet. This requirement is met if the MRD is at least 50% when the material is backed with a black surface having a reflectance below 5%.

29 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Quiet zone The Quite Zone refers to the area around the printed barcode. This area needs to be kept clear to ensure that the barcode can be detected by the reader and processed correctly. If there is any noise, such as other printing, patterns and textures, this may affect the ability of the barcode to be scanned. There is a minimum requirement of Quiet Zone around the barcode: 2mm above and below the barcode 6mm on the left and right of the barcode

30 Advanced: Barcoding Printing the barcode Summary The 4-state barcode must be printed within certain specifications to ensure that the barcode can be read and processed efficiently by Australia Posts sorting equipment. Barcode print requirements refer to the: barcode length individual bar dimensions skew reflectance Quiet Zone For more information about barcodes refer to the Customer Barcoding Technical Specifications and the Australia Post website (auspost.com.au).

31 Advanced: Barcoding Summary You have now completed this module. The key points covered were: To access some of the Bulk Mail Service discount postage rates, a barcode needs to be printed on the mail article with the address details. The barcode must follow a specific structure set by Australia Post. The barcode can be printed in 3 different lengths: 37, 52, 67. The 52 and 67 length barcodes allow the customer to include their own information. The Format Control Code (FCC) used must be valid, as this determines how the mail article is processed. The 4-state barcode must be printed within the specifications to ensure that the barcode can be read and processed efficiently by Australia Posts sorting equipment.

32 You now need to complete a short assessment to check your understanding of the information covered in this module. This assessment consists of 10 multiple-choice questions and should take you approximately 10 minutes to complete. To pass the assessment, you need to answer at least eight of these questions correctly. Attempt this assessment as many times as you need to. If you do not pass, it is recommended that you review this module again. Assessment

33 1 For which Bulk Mail Services is the barcode mandatory to qualify for postage discounts? a.Impact Mail, Clean Mail, Print Post b.PreSort Letters, Charity Mail, Acquisition Mail, Reply Paid c.Charity Mail, Print Post d.Clean Mail, PreSort Letters Correct answer = B PreSort Letters, Charity Mail, Acquisition Mail and Reply Paid must have a correctly printed barcode to qualify for postage discounts for that service.

34 Assessment 2 True or false? Numeric values use the N Encoding Table to translate into the bar values. a.True b.False Correct answer = A Numeric values 0 to 9 use the N Encoding Table, which creates two bars for each value

35 Assessment 3 True or false? Alpha numeric values (numbers and characters) use the C Encoding Table. a.True b.False Correct answer = A Combinations of alpha-numeric values (A to Z, a to Z, 0 to 9) use the C Encoding Table, which creates three bars for each value.

36 Assessment 4 What are the 3 types of barcode lengths? a.37, 57, 62 b.37, 52, 67 c.32, 59, 62 d.39, 57, 67 Correct answer = B The three barcode lengths are 37, 52 and 67.

37 Assessment 5 The Customer information field is available for use by the customer in the: a.Standard Customer Barcode (37 length barcode) b.Customer Barcode 2 (52 length barcode) c.Customer Barcode 3 (67 length barcode) d.52 and 67 length barcodes Correct answer = D Both the 52 and 67 length barcodes contain an area that the customer can use to include their own information.

38 Assessment 6 True or false? The structure of the Reply Paid barcode is slightly different to the Standard Customer Barcode. a.True b.False Correct answer = A The structure of the Reply Paid barcode is slightly different to the Standard Customer Barcode because it includes the response number within the barcode.

39 Assessment 7 True or false? When producing the barcode, any value can be used for the Format Control Code (FCC). a.True b.False Correct answer = B The Format Control Code must be one of the valid codes as specified by Australia for that particular barcode type.

40 Assessment 8 True or false? When the barcode is printed it can be any size. a.True b.False Correct answer = B The printed barcode, depending on the number of bars, must be printed within a specific minimum and maximum size.

41 Assessment 9 True or false? When the barcode is printed, the individual bars within the barcode must be within certain minimum and maximum values. a.True b.False Correct answer = A The individual bars within the barcode must be within a specific minimum and maximum size.

42 Assessment 10 When printing the barcode, a Quite Zone is required around the barcode: a.2mm top and bottom, 6mm left and right b.6mm top and bottom, 2mm left and right c.only 6mm top and bottom d.only 2mm left and right Correct answer = A A Quiet Zone of 2mm above and below the barcode and 6mm to the left and right of the barcode is required to ensure that the barcode can be read successfully.


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