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Barcode Basics: How to Serialize Barcode Labels

Nicole Lepkowski

Barcode Basics: How to Serialize Barcode Labels


What is the serialization of barcode labels? Serialization means assigning a unique number to each individual product, whether it’s a sequential number or a complex sequence. Therefore, no two products will have the same unique identifier (serial number). Barcode serialization is becoming more prevalent as many companies have to comply with strict track and trace laws throughout the supply chain.


learn more about labeling regulations


This blog will examine barcode serialization, looking at its fundamental concepts, the benefits it can offer to businesses, and its broad applications across multiple industries. Whether you are in a regulated or non-regulated industry, learn how barcode serialization can shape the future of your business.


What you need to know about serialized barcode labels


Before getting into barcode serialization, it is important to understand how barcodes work. A barcode is a system of encoded data that can represent information, product numbers, prices, or serial numbers. It enables accurate tracking and identification at the item level. This is critical for industries with strict regulations and for tracking products throughout the supply chain.


Within 1D and 2D barcode types there are four common barcode types that are serialized:



How to serialize barcode labels in CODESOFT using variable counters


  1. Go to Data Source > Counter > Add.
  2. Give the counter a name (you will use this unique name whenever you want to use this counter).
  3. Configure the settings of the counter to appropriately match the desired functionality. You will need to set the name of your counter, type, current value, increment, minimum value, and maximum value.
  4. Check if your counter is a shared counter or ISO counter, check the corresponding check boxes.
  5. Click OK.


Adding variable counters to your barcode labels is an easy way to structure your labeling system. In this process, each product will be individually numbered to identify its placement and location within the supply chain. In the event of a product recall, having counters on your labels will help locate products more efficiently.


How regulated industries use barcode serialization


Barcode serialization plays a major role in regulated industries, where quality control, compliance with government regulations, and product safety are most important. Industries like pharmaceutical, food and beverage, chemical and hazardous materials, and automotive use barcode serialization to track each product from its starting point to its final destination.


Pharmaceutical: The pharmaceutical industry’s labeling regulations are strict. Pharmaceutical firms must follow exact standards for tracking and tracing medications to ensure that the product’s safety remains intact throughout the whole supply chain. The U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) mandates that barcodes be serialized to fight against counterfeit drugs. According to Forbes, the sector loses up to $162.1 billion to counterfeit drugs each year. While barcode labels are not required to be fully serialized until November 2024, it is important to get ahead to ensure that your products are compliant.


Food and Beverage: In the food industry, serialization is used to track perishable goods, meet food safety regulations, and manage product recalls. The goal is to trace the origin of ingredients, manage expiration dates, and enhance food safety. Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is an industry-wide effort to improve the efficiency of track and trace throughout the produce supply chain. In the event of a food recall, barcode serialization helps pinpoint the affected product and allows it to be isolated quicker with more accuracy. This lessens the impact on consumers by providing information about products to prevent illnesses from occurring. Moreover, this saves companies from bad press that could ultimately diminish brand reputation.


Chemical and Hazardous Materials: In an industry where safety is a big concern, compliance with chemical labeling regulations is crucial. Barcode serialization makes sure that chemicals are handled properly and are followed throughout the supply chain.  A serialized barcode will produce a unique identifier that gives the chemical a serial number, which is specific to the product, for the ability to track and trace it and reference it in case of recalls. The biggest reason for serializing barcodes in the chemical industry is to enable quality control which checks the details of each chemical, along with the consistency to make sure products are safe to go out into the world.


Automotive: Automotive manufacturers use serialization to track the origins of components, ensure the quality and safety of the vehicle, and track product recalls. It is most important for components like airbags and brake systems. In the event of a recall, manufacturers must know exactly what part is being recalled, identify the affected vehicles, and notify the consumers.


Serialization touches all of these industries to enhance supply chain visibility and elevate real-life tracking of products as they go through various stages of manufacturing and distribution.


Benefits of barcode serialization


Barcode serialization is present across a wide variety of industries. Whether companies are operating in regulated or non-regulated industries, barcode serialization is used to:


  1. Improve inventory management to maintain accurate inventory data, along with reducing stockouts, overstock, and the need for manual inventory count.
  2. Enhance supply chain traceability by tracking products individually throughout their lifecycle. Serialization can also help with quality control and product recalls.
  3. Reduce errors in tracking and shipping that could be caused by human mistakes in data entry and product handling.
  4. Increase product authorization and anti-counterfeit in industries that need verification throughout the supply chain to ensure products have not been tampered with.


Choosing the best labeling solution for barcode serialization


If serialization is the next step for your barcode labels, CODESOFT will help meet all serialization requirements needed for your barcode labeling. For more information about variable counters and how they can help with your barcode serialization process watch our TekTip video, How to Leverage Variable in Your Counters.





See how CODESOFT can help your company stay compliant by downloading a free 30-day trial. You can also get in touch with a labeling expert at TEKLYNX today.


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About Nicole


Nicole Lepkowski is the Customer Support Manager at TEKLYNX, where she actively coaches her team to ensure each customer's needs are met quickly and carefully. With over nine years of experience working with TEKLYNX software users, Nicole is dedicated to raising the bar in customer support and helping companies throughout the supply chain barcode better. Outside of her role at TEKLYNX, Nicole enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.


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