Next evolution of scanning will be from QR code to RFID
Since its invention in the 1940s, barcode scanning technology has seen a tremendous evolution. Recent developments in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have been integrated into barcode scanning technology. Particularly in situations where barcodes are broken or partially hidden, these technologies help to increase identification accuracy.
JP Mishra – Country Manager- India, Newland AIDC, spoke with India Business and Trade, on the myth surrounding barcode scanning technology in India. He says that it is time for small and micro-enterprises to bid adieu to manual inventory and embrace technology that can help them digitize their stockpile.
Photo Source: JP Mishra
IBT: Can you give provide a brief of Newland and how it is putting in AIDC as the entry is rather new to India?
JP Mishra: We are globally the third-largest company on scan engines, present in more than 100 countries. In Asia Pacific regions such as India, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore, we are the third-largest AIDC technology company.
Our operations in India started in 2019 and have shown steady growth over the years. We take pride in having the highest market share in scanning and mobility in India, competing against many large companies. Our success is due to our focus on product quality, service, and reasonable pricing. We are happy to know that our products are well-received by Indian customers, and we have built a strong customer base of over 1200 direct customers and 150 direct partners. We offer OEM manufacturing services for various companies at our 2000 manufacturing locations, with a diverse range of over 50 products. Our product line includes barcode scanners, printers, mobile computers, RFID products, and industrial products for manufacturing companies in the EMS industry, which we introduced this year. At Newland, we are proud to be a one-stop shop for all your solution needs, and that is how we present ourselves in the Indian market.
We provide solutions for a range of industries, such as retail, e-commerce, logistics, and manufacturing. Our primary focus has been on the thriving automotive and electronic manufacturing sectors in India. We have created a variety of scanners to meet the unique requirements of these industries.
IBT: What kind of market research did you do before launching Newland in India?
JP Mishra: I have been in this particular industry for more than a decade now. So, I worked with all the global companies in the past. That experience also gave me more confidence in diving into this business because we know the customers, we know the technology and we know the market point. If we know the market pain point and how the solution is to be positioned, then it will be easier for us to introduce any kind of solution or position any kind of solution.
Product-wise, I think it is very crucial to understand the real needs of a customer and to know the real pain point of a customer. We are purely doing solution-centric business in India. It is not like we are just selling a barcode scanner. It is a complete solution which you are trying to position to the customers with their pain points.
We are almost working with 150 channel partners and not doing any direct business in India. We have a robust channel ecosystem. For the customer interactions, we are there but for the business, we are doing it with the help of our channel partners only in India. Those channel partners are very capable of the configuration and for the software design and other things. On the growth aspect, as I mentioned in India we have started from scratch. Earlier in India there used to be one or two companies that manufacture barcode scanners. Then we started promoting our own brand in India.
Firstly, we make the barcode scanner affordable for most of the customers. We make the services much faster than our competitors. In the first phase, we started working with all kinds of logistic companies. Logistics and quick commerce companies really need a product immediately. Earlier this product need time was two or three months. So, we make the need time very less for our product and Service TAT. We have managed to achieve the TAT in three-four days whereas others are taking it for weeks time or more than two weeks or three weeks time. That is where we have worked very rigorously and that is why we have started adding more and more customers.
IBT: Which are the other industries that can benefit from AIDC technology? What kind of industry procedures or operations have been improved because of AIDC? Can you make a comparison before and after AIDC?
JP Mishra: An AIDC product, normally considered an Automatic Identification Data Capturing machine, is useful for each and every industry. We are not confined to a single industry, we are wherever there is a requirement for track and trace or real-time visibility or inventory management.
Let’s take an example of logistics. Logistics is one part where they are doing the inventory, they are doing the supply chain and everything. That is where they need the real-time traceability of the product. Everything in the current business world is directly or indirectly into the supply chain whether it is an FMCG company, manufacturing, healthcare or maybe retail company, they need to optimize their supply chain.
Secondly, it is not only used on the logistic track interest but also it is used for the working process for different manufacturing customers. For example, in my plant, I am receiving some raw materials and using them in the production line. I want to track how much production has been done. That also is getting addressed to the barcode scanners because they want to make sure which parts should be applicable for this particular machine.
Most importantly third and the last vertical is the government. Now a lot of initiative in the government for excise is there. For example, many state governments are now coming up with track and trace for the excise of alcohol bottles. So they want to increase their revenue. They want to make sure that the retail stores are selling the same bottles which are manufactured in the state. On that ground, they are trekking the bottle from the manufacturing to the retail to the customer. In that way, they are trekking and they are increasing their revenue.
IBT: What is your opinion on the surge of QR code technology in India?
JP Mishra: So, I will tell you why the QR code started and why the need for QR codes has increased a lot in the market. There are two types of barcodes. One is the 1D barcode and one is a 2D barcode. 1D barcode is basically the line worker which is associated with a product. For example, one number that refers to a different kind of product description in your system. 2D barcodes are normally the square QR code and PDF barcode, there are many symbologies which come into the 2D barcode symbology.
Earlier people used to only use 1D barcodes because their usage was very limited and they wanted to store very limited information on the barcode. But starting from 2017 and 2018, people started putting more information into barcodes. They want to capture more information into a barcode. That is where the QR code came into existence. In QR code they can save a lot of information not only one number; they can keep one page of information. That is how the demand for QR codes increased. The need to keep more data in a barcode is required and it happens from majorly FMCG Company. They want to capture their warranty, they want to capture expiry time, and they want to capture the real description of the products. So that is how the QR code came into existence for some luxury goods in the past. Technology also 1D barcode can scan only 1D barcode but 2D barcode can scan 1D and 2D. That is how when the QR code or the 2D barcode demand increases, the demand for the 2D barcode scanner also increases. So QR code is not new. It has been there since the last decade but the need to store more data in a barcode scanner drives all the different companies to come into the QR code or 2D barcode scanning symbologies.
IBT: In terms of technological advancements, what do you think awaits next for barcode scanning?
JP Mishra: Right now a lot of new technologies are coming and the market is evolving. People who started with barcode scanners are evolving themselves and are now shifting to RFID because RFID normally gives less human interaction and gives more information without hassles. So, the next evolution will be from QR code to RFID because the reading is very fast and within a fraction of a second you can scan a lot of products.
For example, in barcode, you need to scan it one by one but with RFID you can scan the bulk of the product in one go. The demand for vision barcode scanners is also increasing fast in the production line. For example, recently we have launched that is our vision camera. With this, you can capture thousands of barcodes at one go instead of scanning one by one. So, that is how the market is evolving and the technology evolving to the next generation i.e., RFID and visual barcodes.
Most importantly the QR code would be there but then again the form factor is evolving very fast. Currently, we are using handle terminals or handled barcode scanners or fixed barcode scanners but that is also evolving to the wearable barcode scanners where we have really good products on wearable barcode scanners.
JP Mishra has over 19 years of proven global experience in managing P&L, strategy, people, sales, operations and building new businesses. He is passionate about understanding customer’s business issues and helps find a way to solve them using technology solutions.