Tuesday, 15 September 2015 11:28

Why won't my rack scan?

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Every single 2D rack scanner manufacturer will tell you their scanner will never ever fail; including us.  However in reality no matter how robust our decoding algoritms (and we put a lot of work into this area) sometimes a rack just won't decode.  So; I thought I would list the main reasons we see below:

      1. Ice on the rack: this is the number one cause.  If you take a rack out of a minus eighty freezer it will have picked up lots of ice from the big Mr Frostee that is a typical lab freezer.  The best way to get rid of this is to tap the rack on a sponge or wad of tissue dampened with ethanol; I;m often asked how much ethanol.  The tissue should be wet but not dripping.  Imagine you've wiped up a spillage in your kitchen - that wet!
      2. Damaged Tube: how many times have you been told by a tube seller that the barcode is impervious to damage?  While the tubes are robust they are not from Krypton!  So; here is a new factoid - you can damage and scratch a tube so that it cannot be read.  You may hear that a tube can be 25% damaged and still read; that is a theoretical maximum.  While it is true that a datamatrix code can withstand damage; it matters which areas are damaged.  However this is another subject for another day.  Also there can be manufacturing issues with tubes; millions of these tubes are mde every month and some bad ones do slip through the net.  We put a lot of effort into reading damaged or badly printed tubes and we are proud of our system - however sometimes we just cannot put the pieces back together!
      3. Unusual tube: unlike airport baggage many tubes are not alike.  We are seeing more and more tubes being released onto the market monthly.  While they all contain the datamatrix barcode differences in labelling techniques and where the tubes are (especially for 24 well racks) matter.  Ziath's DataPaq will read every tube on the market; however if you have a new tube/rack that does not read - contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll make sure you can read it - no charge; ever (that's a promise)!  If you don't use Ziath's scanners then just get a quote from your supplier.
      4. Damaged scanner: here is another supplier quote; our scanner will never break.  We've probably said that before too and it is not quite true; everything at some point in life will break.  I'm the first to hold my hand up and say we have had some scanners break.  If it does then contact us; we'll repair or replace it immediately - worry about the cost later let's get you up and running again first. I used to work in the lab and I know that raising a purchase order for repairs wastes time you don't have!
      5. Tube not in rack properly: this isn't as common but we do sometimes see someone who has put a tube from one manufacturer into a rack from another manufacturer.  It may work, it may not - give it a try! However the bets are off as to if it will work - the geometry of the tube and the geometry of the rack may mean that the tube does not sit down properly.  Our Express scanner can probably cope with this but our high speed scanner cannot (more on this another time). Other reasons for tubes not sitting in the rack properly. include labels wrapped around tubes, dirt in the rack or some racks simply don't let the tubes sit down properly.

So if you have go this far you might be thinking all sorts of horrors!  Don't worry - the vast majority of racks and tubes scan; Ziath's algorithms are designed to handle difficult to read tubes. That's why we started (almost) ten years ago and it is why people still select and switch to us today. If you are having reading problems let us know; even if you are not using Ziath scanners; let us know and we can help you work out what is happening. We're more interested in helping than anything else - that's probably why we don't live in a fancy house on the hill but do have satisfied customers globally and why we love coming to work every day

Read 35106 times Last modified on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 11:51

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