In the past year, improving operator efficiency as well as production throughput and product tracking have become common requests from customers. I have assisted on these applications and both were able to be solved by implementing a barcode reader into a PLC automation system. There are two major application solutions we’ve identified.

First, machines have become ever more configurable. A machine operator needs to manage the many settings for each product coming down the line. These settings typically are managed and updated via the HMI page and could take minutes to update on a product change over. Imagine a system that requires an operator to get the work order paperwork, grab a barcode reader and scan, and then one second later the machine is configured for that product. I see two methods of this system working–either the barcode itself is holding the configuration parameters within its value, or the PLC controller supports recipe management where the barcode selects the specific product via the CSV parameter file.

Second, product tracking and validation of production and quality values are becoming the norm. Companies or regulatory organizations want to have each product’s production specs available. Determining what product was being run at a specific time requires an operator to accurately enter the product value into the PLC. If this is done wrong, the data log files will have incorrect data, thus making tracking impossible. With a barcode data entry that can be automated, the code can be generated by the ERP system and the PLC logged data can close the loop on what was produced.

At Power/mation, we can assist in guiding your vital digital systems production value decisions. From implementing a barcode system, improving production throughput, and gaining system awareness to report generation. These are necessary for an efficient process automation application. Find our basic application guide in the following pages and reach out to your Power/mation Sales Representative for further questions.

Download the application notes here:


Andrew Jagger
Associate Business Development Manager
Process & Logic Control Products