Honeywell Security buys barcode scanner company

Barcode scanner company Metrologic Instruments will be part of Honeywell now that equity firm Francisco Partners has signed an agreement to sell Metrologic for $720 million in cash. The deal puts Metrologic inside Honeywell Security, which is part of Honeywell's broader Automation and Control Solutions (ACS) business.

Metrologic's technology is almost exclusively focused on barcode scanning, and the company offerings include a wide variety of handheld and counter-mounted scanners for reading bar codes. Some of Metrologic's handheld barcode scanners for retail environments, including the company's new VoyagerGS scanner, can also include an antenna to allow de-activation of electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags. EAS tags are commonly used for retail loss prevention and shrink reduction.

The nature of bar code technology also puts Metrologic into the identification business, and the company has offered its EasyID software which can read bar codes found on military IDs and driver's licenses. The EasyID software can be used with the company's array of scanners. According to Metrologic, the system can be used for tasks like age verification (a task commonly handled by security outside nightclubs, or handled by cashiers at tobacco and alcohol retailers) or to automate the filling-in of forms.

The purchase of Metrologic is expected to also fit well within the Honeywell Imaging and Mobility product division, which provides a variety of scanners, including handheld solutions. In that same division, which was formed out of the acquisition of Hand Held Products Inc., Honeywell also offers products for government ID verification. Hand Held Products Inc. was formerly an independent manufacturer of bar code scanners, check scanners, document readers, mobile computers and retail transaction terminals.

That Honeywell group also was one of the early manufacturers to offer FIPS 140-2 cordless handheld image standards. That FIPS standard, which was issued in 2001, specified encryption of government data and also included standards for role-based authentication and tamper-resistance.

With Metrologic added to the Honeywell Security division, the company said they will be able to better serve customers in a number of vertical markets, including distribution and logistics, transportation, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and the government sector. The scanners could be used for regular retail scanning, but bar codes also have applications in scanning of patient healthcare wristbands, ticket reading (such as transportation), the aforementioned government ID scanning, and for warehouse and distribution applications in the manufacturing chain.

The acquisition will be completed in the second quarter of 2008.