What are Ingress Protection (IP) ratings? Why do they matter for data capture devices?
Done & dusted?
Picture it: Your next shipment of goods should hit the road later today. You've got three over-the-road truckers arriving within the next few hours to transport goods to customers throughout neighboring territories and regions. However, the warehouse's air filtration malfunctioned overnight, sending dust and cardboard particulate throughout your operations area. But that's not the worst of it.
Your industrial-grade HVAC system circulated most of the dust, enabling the particles to pick up negative or positive electrical charges from items they came in contact with. And now, the commodity barcode scanners used in operations for inventory tracking are not reading codes accurately because invasive dust compromised their internal electronics.
Unable to rely on barcode scanner technology for managing the outgoing inventory, your team quickly switches to old-fashioned manual tracking. Because it's the 11th hour, there's little room for human error, incorrect shipments, or delays.
Within industrial settings, there's almost always a loss of time, productivity, and/or product when a vital system fails. Considering the suddenly dusty warehouse, is there something that could have prevented your barcode scanners from failing? The answer is yes.
Ingress Protection Explained
The International Electrotechnical Commission developed a global standard that rates an electrical device's ingress protection ability" that is, its ability to prevent the intrusion of dust or liquid. This standard, defined by IEC/EN 60529, is called an IP rating. Throughout various industries, International Protection and Ingress Protection are used somewhat interchangeably as the "IP" in IP rating.
The IP code standard consists of the letters IP and two digits. The first digit refers to a device, like a barcode reader, and its ability to prevent solid intrusion. The second digit refers to its ability to prevent liquid intrusion.
Ratings span from IP00 to IP69K. IP00 indicates no protection from solids or liquids; IP69K indicates total protection from dust ingress and steam-jet cleaning.
The entry-level barcode scanners you purchased were rated IP40, which does not protect from dust ingress. When the air filtration system stopped working, the accumulating dust penetrated your budget scanners, causing the failure to affect your production schedule.
Had the warehouse's scanners had an IP61 rating or higher, your devices would have withstood the severely dusty environment, allowing shipping and logistics to chug along as intended.
Will water damage data capture devices?
While the nightmare scenario above focused on dust and dirt, IP ratings are also a benchmark for a device's ability to withstand water and avoid water damage. Surely everyone at some point has felt a slight tinge of anxiety walking over a sidewalk grate with a smartphone (which does have an IP rating of its own) in hand. This feeling extends to handheld business devices, too and they're not the only things vulnerable to water damage, device loss can damage your business's bottom line also.
Perhaps your business operates on the water or in a busy port. Or it's quite likely that a fire alarm in a warehouse or industrial facility could trip sprinkler systems and damage data capture devices, like barcode readers, without a proper IP rating. Similarly, spills large and small are also potential sources of water damage for electronic devices.
Regardless of the situation, a sufficient IP rating should help limit the collateral damage of an incident and save your business money in the process.
What is the IP rating of your barcode scanning hardware? What about the other electronic devices used in your business? What potential hazards does your environment present to your
devices? Is the rating of your equipment sufficient? If not, it might be time to upgrade.
Unsure what your business needs? Contact Code Corporation. The Utah-based firm's barcode scanning experts will take the time to understand your business and workflows to find you the right solution. The firm offers the IP54 rated CR1500 and the IP65 CR2700 barcode readers.
The CR2700's IP65 rating
makes the device dust-tight. The rating means CR2700's internal circuitry is protected from low-pressure jets (6.3 mm) of directed water from any angle (the outcome is limited ingress and no harmful effects). The CR2700's ingress protection rating and performance make the CR2700 ideal for healthcare, civil engineering (surveying), food processing, and manufacturing. And when the dirty work is done, this Code CR2700 Barcode Reader is washdown-ready.
The CR1500's IP54 rating
means it is partially protected from harmful dust and protected against water splashes from all directions. Tested for a minimum of 10 minutes with an oscillating spray, it means that the design permitted a minimal amount of water and suffered no harmful effects. This performance makes it a popular asset tracking solution within manufacturing and law enforcement. The CR1500's blend of international protection and value also has it favored in logistics and retail.
There you have it: the ins and outs of IP ratings for barcode scanners and other data capture devices. Searching for the best barcode reader for the job? Don't overlook ruggedized, water- and dust-resistant barcode scanners even if the upfront costs are a little higher. Their robust designs and higher IP ratings will pay for themselves time and time again because life is filled with spills, unexpected rain, and the occasional HVAC system failure.