Who’s Who In The Bar Code Industry
The bar code industry is continuing to grow and change. However, a good many of the top players are well established companies and we thought we’d do a quick review.
Motorola Solutions is a division of Motorola which was founded in 1928 by Paul and Joseph Galvin. The first manufactured products were the battery eliminator, car radios, and two-way radios. In 1978 Motorola created a laser bar code verifier which was more accurate in scanning than some of the other scanners available at the time. With this laser verifier, bar codes were also improved so that the information contained in the bar could be read more easily. In 1980 Symbol Technologies (acquired by Motorola in 2006) created a hand held laser bar code scanner, and in 1983 an upgraded scanner was made which could scan bar codes from a distance of 10 inches. This brand new model set the industry standard for bar code scanners.(1) Motorola Solutions generated an annual revenue of $7.9 billion in 2010.(2)
Zebra Technologies has its origins in the state of Illinois back in 1969 but later moved to Delaware in 1991. The company produces a wide variety printers for bar codes from high-range to mobile ones. Zebra Technologies has distribution centers and offices in over 100 countries and produced bar code equipment for use by the European Union postal system to improve mail processing and delivery.(4) In 2010, Zebra pulled in an annual revenue of $957 million.(5) That year the company collaborated with Honeywell to create and manufacture bar code printers and scanners marketed to the health care and field mobility industries.(6)
Intermec has been in the bar code business since 1966, making solution products for businesses that require the fastest and most efficient means of data capture technology. Intermec makes durable, high performance bar code printers designed to withstand heavy usage in everyday business.(9) Also specializing in radio frequency identification instruments, the company signed a contract with the British Royal Mail in 2008, providing their postal service with mobile bar code technology.(10)
Honeywell manufactures technology for global security and safety. Founded in 1904 by Mark Honeywell, the heat generator was the first machine perfected for his plumbing business. Soon the company included clocks after merging with the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company in 1927, eventually moving into security systems. Honeywell plays an important role not only in the aerospace but also the bar code industry, providing high tech scanners to businesses that need them.(11) Honeywell remains one of the bigger firms, pulling in $33.4 billion in revenue for 2010.(12), although specific bar code industry related revenue is estimated to be under $500 million. Honeywell owns the Metrologic brand and the Voyager is the best selling handheld laser scanner ever, according to Honeywell staff.
ScanSource, Inc. specializes in the wholesale distribution of bar code scanners and printers, providing data capture and POS solutions to businesses. The company has been incorporated since 1992, and was the first in selling bar code equipment as a value-added reseller.(13) On the Fortune 1000 list, ScanSource ranks in at #881 and is an environmentally conscious company, having recently established a recycling program.(14) The company has earned a net sales of $613 million in the third quarter ending in March 2011.(15)
Datamax was founded in 1977 in Orlando, Florida before it merged with O’Neil Product Development, which was based in California, in 2006. Datamax was originally an engineering consulting company before it specialized in bar code label printers and scanning devices. In the 1980’s the company also developed event admissions and airline ticketing systems.(16) Today, Datamax O’Neil specializes in bar code equipment, manufacturing both scanners and printers for businesses. A privately owned company, Datamax O’Neil recently unveiled a new thermal desktop printer called Mark III, which is compact at 4” and comes in four different models. The Mark III has been designed to meet bar code requirements frequently used in retail, healthcare, and government sectors.(17)
Bluestar is a major global distributor of bar code and POS equipment. Having offices in the Americas and Europe, the company works with value-added resellers of bar code equipment plus technical, educational, marketing and business development services to companies that want to have the right bar code devices to meet their needs.(18) Bluestar is based in Hebron, Kentucky and has been operating since 1988. In April, 2011, Bluestar was named to the Fast 55 list by the Cincinnati Business Courier for being one of the fastest growing companies in the region.(19)
Printronix is a global leader in the printing solutions industry and has been around since 1974. The company was founded by Robert A. Kleist and was originally located in Delaware. Printronix provides bar code printing solutions to businesses and also provides thermal and RFID printers for high quality needs. The company uses innovative technology for bar code needs in all types of businesses. Now based in Irvine, California, Printronix ceased being a publicly traded in 2008 and is now privately owned.(20) In May 2011, Printronix released a new line of matrix printers called TallyGenicom.(21)
Monarch – Avery Dennison
Monarch bar code printers are manufactured by Avery Dennison, a main leader in business technology solutions since 1935. Made at the company’s plant in Miamisburg, Ohio, Monarch is one of the best known names in the bar code industry and made the Top 10 Manufacturing Plants in the United States by Industry Week magazine.(22) In May 2009, the company introduced a new hybrid thermal printer that operates at high speed which makes it a solution product for the bar code industry.(23) In 2010 Avery Dennison had annual revenue of $6.5 billion.(24)