Data Matrix

What is Data Matrix?

The Data Matrix Code enables standardization in logistics

In logistics, traceability is one of the most important maxims. We already know this from our private lives when we check online where the package we ordered is currently and when it will arrive. In the business world, the whole thing takes on a different dimension, with implications for customer management as well as internal distribution and goods handling.

Over the decades, technical support has made it possible to ship goods more and more efficiently, securely and traceably - and to guarantee that the products arrive as planned. The Data Matrix Code plays a central role here.

Definition of Data Matrix: standardization and norming help to achieve success

The Data Matrix Code is a code system that is similar to the QR codes that are now also known in private use. In this way, the code is quickly read in and thus maps the most important data. In principle, this is a 2D code, i.e. something that can be easily printed. The code usually consists of the following three components and may also contain color elements:

  • A "finder pattern" helps readers quickly find the Data Matrix code and thus locate what needs to be read.
  • The "Data Region" forms the core and represents the most important data, which can be automatically recognized and individually assigned.
  • A last element is the "Alternating Pattern", which gives information about which frequency is necessary for the readout.
  • The documentation is simplified by an increased information content and at the same time an increased test security is created by the Data Matrix.
  • Combinability with other code systems is still available and thus allows the targeted use of the Data Matrix.

To ensure that the whole thing really works, the Data Matrix Code also relies on standardization. The international standard ISO/IEC 16022:2006 is used for this purpose. Among other things, it standardizes the properties described and thus guarantees machine readability. Furthermore, the ISO/IEC TR 29158:2011 standard is also important as it further defines the print quality for the required readability.

Advantages of the Data Matrix compared to other systems

Besides the Data Matrix, there are also other systems with similar benefits. Two-dimensional codes include, for example, the classic bar codes that have been used in retail for decades. However, systems such as the classic bar code or even the well-known QR code have certain disadvantages, which is why the Data Matrix as a two-dimensional bar code now plays a central role in logistics. The following advantages speak for the Data Matrix:

  • The print documents can be quite variable. It is important that the code is pure and legible, and that the colors are correct, but slight curvatures, for example, are not a major problem for legibility.
  • The code matrix can be mapped extremely small and thus printed in a space-saving manner. This is advantageous both on small products and in terms of economy, especially for large quantities.
  • The code matrix allows it to be read extremely quickly by machines, which avoids delays in the logistics process.

In practice, the Data Matrix has consequently become widely established in a wide variety of industries that rely on high data security, fast and simple logistics processes, and flexibility.


Logistik-Lexikon Data Matrix

Image: MIKHAIL GRACHIKOV / Shutterstock

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