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US Mint Conducts 2D Barcode Trials

January 14, 2016 – November 2015, the United States Mint’s Information Technology Department is scheduled to conclude its data collection software and two-dimensional barcode trial at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. If results from the test project confirm the usability and reliability of the software, Denver and Philadelphia could be in for an enhanced workflow in their die shops.

Dies with 2D barcodes that were used by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Photograph: United States Mint.

Dies with 2D barcodes that were used by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Photograph: United States Mint.

Dies – which are a key component in the manufacturing process because they strike the faces of coins – are expensive to manufacture, so it is beneficial to extend die life as much as possible. Currently, die life at Mint facilities averages two days (measuring the total number of coins struck before a die is retired).

Information Technology Specialist Solomon George said that the Mint is still in the pilot phase of this project, but the initial response from die setters in Philadelphia has been positive. 

There are two areas that will benefit from implementing 2D barcode on dies, according to George. The first are users of the Die Information System.

“This application tracks dies through their life cycle,” said George. “Any place where the users need to key-in the die serial number, they will be able to scan the new 2D barcode. A few activities such as die destruction, which involves several personnel confirming the serial number, could be simplified, too.”

Cylinders of tool steel before being made into dies. Photograph: United States Mint.

Cylinders of tool steel before being made into dies. Photograph: United States Mint.

According to George, others who could see potential improvement are die setters. 

“With the software changes in pilot, the manual components of [die setter work] will be eliminated and the updates to DIS will be instantaneous,” George said.

In the pilot phase, the Mint is testing the ease of scanning 2D barcodes with a handheld scanner and plans to also test with a fixed scanner. Data gathered by the new software includes the number of strikes before a die is unusable and the force with which the die strikes the coin.

If all goes according to plan, ITD’s new software will provide consistent, accurate and timely information for data analysis on dies and presses.

Please find the website of the United States Mint here.

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