This is Part 3 in a series of manufacturing barcode scanning videos. This video describes connecting many barcode scanner guns to a single computer. This is an advanced video. Each scanner must have a unique prefix to distinguish it from others. Learn how to set up those prefixes here.
Have you watched Part 1 and 2?
Barcode Timers Part 1
Barcode Timers Part 2
Still got questions? Here are some FAQ about using multiple barcode scanners on a single computer. You can start and stop timers with as many barcode guns connected to a single computer. Just make sure all the shop floor operators can see the screen they're working from so they know their scans are working, and that the timer is starting and stopping.
Q: Is there a "Getting Started" barcode video?
Q: Do you recommend a barcode font for MS Word?
A: That is also covered in the Barcode Scanner Part 1 page. Scroll down below the video for Barcode Q&A and you'll see a barcode font.
Q: How do you connect wireless barcode scanners to a PC?
A: You'll have to consult your scanner's user guide for that. But usually they are connected with a USB receiver you plug into the computer. The scanner must remain within range of the receiver, usually about 100 – 300 feet.
Q: Can you have multiple wireless barcode scanners on a single USB receiver?
A: Usually, yes. Consult your user guide to configure scanners for a single receiver. Or use a multiport USB hub if your scanner doesn't support multiple units on a single receiver.
Q: How do barcode scanners send information to computers?
A: Barcode scanners work like keyboards. Information is always sent as text, right into the window that is currently open. That means you could use a word processor to receive text from a scanner. Just plug in a scanner, open any word processor, and scan. The text will show up in your window.
Q: What is a barcode prefix?
A: A prefix is just a series of characters sent by the device whenever anything is scanned. For example, if your prefix is "unit1_" and you scanned "abc" the scanner would send "unit1_abc" to the computer. If you scanned "xyz" the scanner would send "unit1_xyz".
Q: Why do you need prefixes?
A: Prefixes tell the ST timer software which unit is sending text. Each thing you scan is kept together in a session until the timer is started.
Q: How do you program prefixes into a scanner?
A: Every scanner has different methods. Consult your user guide. Normally, you scan a special barcode label that instructs the unit to begin watching for the alphanumeric characters for your prefix. For example, if you wanted "unit1_" as your prefix, you would scan a special label, then scan "u" then n i t 1 _ in sequence.
Q: Are prefixes required?
A: Prefixes are only required if you are connecting multiple barcode scanners to a single computer. The prefix tells the software which scanner is in use at any given time. Without prefixes, the app has no way of knowing which scanner is sending the text.
Q: Do users need a computer screen to use wireless scanners?
A: Normally, yes. If users or operators don't have visual feedback that their scans are going into the computer and that the timer is running, they will never be sure that it is working. That's one of issues with wireless scanners. Users must see the screen they are working from.
Q: Can a single scanner be associated with just one employee?
A: Yes. Simply click the "Barcode Prefixes..." button in the Barcode window. Create a new prefix that is equivalent to the one used by that scanner. Then choose a default user. You'll no longer need to scan a username. Start right in scanning projects or tasks, and the default username will be supplied automatically.
Q: Can barcode scanners be used alongside magnetic card readers?
A: Yes, they both emit strings of characters, and both connect with USB. You can start and stop timers with both barcode scanners and magnetic card readers.
Q: Do you need to install any software with barcode scanners?
A: Only Standard Time®. The scanners will act like keyboards. They usually don't require drivers. Just plug and play. ST will capture barcode text and start a timer for each employee that scans.
Q: Do you sell barcode scanners?
A: Check amazon.com. We only sell Standard Time® which is used to start and stop a timer in response to barcode scanning. ST is usually used in manufacturing, consulting, and engineering.
Q: The timer started as soon as I scanned the username! I didn't want that.
A: Remove the project and task from the prefix defaults. Those fields fulfill all the requirements for starting a timer, so it automatically starts as soon as you scan a username. That is an intentional feature of barcode scanning.
See also: Barcode scanning for manufacturing part 1, Barcode timers for manufacturing part 2, Manufacturing Timesheet and Time Tracking, Start and timer with an RFID tag reader, Start a timer with a mag card reader