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From Barcodes To Texts: Leveraging OCR Technology for Enhanced Efficiency Across Industries

Challenges of Data Tracking



People often believe that new technology is the sole solution for current problems, dismissing older tech for outdated issues. Yet, in the tech industry, it’s clear that innovation doesn’t always mean creating entirely new solutions. Sometimes, small adjustments can bring substantial improvements to business processes.

Though RFID tags and barcodes are increasingly used in tire and vehicle part industries, their widespread application for capturing VINs, TINs, or license plate numbers in business systems remains limited due to technical constraints. This poses challenges for entities obliged to collect and report such data for regulatory compliance or service level agreement (SLA) adherence.

As a result, individuals working in automotive service centers, retail stores, dealerships, and rental car centers invest a significant amount of time manually inputting VIN, TIN, and license plate data. Some supply chain companies refrain from gathering VIN and TIN information unless it is required by regulations. Additionally, supply chain firms that utilize shipping containers face challenges in recording their shipping container IDs, often resorting to manual typing. This manual process overlooks potential advantages in operational efficiency, waste reduction, and inventory enhancement. Manual data entry demands labor-intensive efforts, and a single mistake can nullify all the work.


Misconceptions on Automated Data Capture

Common misconceptions surrounding Automated Data Capture (ADC) often revolve around associating it solely with RFID and Barcodes, overlooking the effectiveness of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that has existed for decades. Using mobile devices with a built-in scanning engine and tracking for OCR technology for frontline workers can significantly aid in extracting essential data from specific objects and seamlessly transferring it to the appropriate systems, ensuring smoother business operations.



What is OCR?



OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, involves converting text from image formats into machine-readable text. This technology enables the transformation of text within images, making it editable and searchable, contrary to the initial image format.


The Role of OCR in the Industry



Interestingly, OCR wasn’t initially recognized by retailers as a potential solution for inventory management. However, this oversight stemmed partly from historical limitations in traditional OCR engines, which faced challenges in precisely isolating and extracting specific text selections, such as capturing only the Tire Identification Number (TIN) while neglecting surrounding tire specifications. Nevertheless, Zebra’s OCR Wedge configuration specifically addresses this issue by accurately identifying intended text while disregarding surrounding text, ensuring scanning accuracy. 



In the multi-modal transport and logistics (MTL) sector, RFID technology is widely adopted to facilitate efficient inventory management and accurate tracking. However, instances occur where RFID tags might not be accessible, prompting workers to depend on Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) or Tire Identification Numbers (TINs) for inventory reporting and verification. The incorporation of OCR addresses this challenge by enabling workers to track both VINs and TINs, as well as Shipping Container IDs. Furthermore, OCR technology can identify other spectrums of information mentioned earlier, such as license plates, identification documents, and even meter readings. This leads to a reduction in manual labor and a decrease in errors through automation, benefiting various industries.


Source: Stephan P. (2023, March 3). There’s an Easy Way to Automatically Capture VIN, TIN and License Plate Data in Automotive Supply Chains, Stores and Service Centers as Inventory Moves in and Out. 



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