Today the industry progresses towards automation. For this reason there are symbols that, through the use of electronic scanning laser or cameras, can decode the information they contain. These symbols are called barcodes.

There are different types of barcodes like GS1-128, QR-code, code 39, PDF417, and Maxi Code, among others. Every barcode has different symbols, letters and numbers which encode the information.


Figure 1. GS1-128 barcode with Application Identifiers. Source: Reproduced from <https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/GS1-128>

For more information about the different barcodes you can see the next links:




Barcodes have many uses. Through these codes you can identify the product containing a container, the expiry date, batch number, date of packaging, among others. In addition they are also used to determine how many products have been sold which facilitates the setting of the conditions to replenish a warehouse.

Some other advantages provided by barcodes and their applications can be viewed on the following video:

An important use of barcodes is in the Spanish health system. Inpatient and outpatient pharmacy by using barcode controlled the drugs that are dispensed to patients. This permits to achieve a complete database which contains the number of medications, treatments and diseases of each citizen. Thanks to these databases the Centre for Health Economics and Management (CIEGS, http://www.ciegs.upv.es/) at the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) can study the direct economic cost of the drugs of a particular disease and the treatment used in each case.

drug barcode

Figure 2. A pharmaceutical cut the barcode of a drug. Source: Reproduced from <http://www.elnortedecastilla.es/castillayleon/201505/04/medicos-enfermeros-enfrentados-prescripcion-20150501101326.html>

Aurea Jordán

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