GS1's Automatic Data Capture Standards

GS1 has a number of standards for the rapid and error-free capture of information.

Barcodes are symbols that can be scanned electronically using laser or camera-based systems.

They are used to encode information such as product numbers, serial numbers and batch numbers. Barcodes play a key role in supply chains, enabling parties like retailers, manufacturers, transport providers and hospitals to automatically identify and track products as they move through the supply chain.

GS1 manages several types of barcodes. Each is designed for use in a different situation:

BarcodeNumeric DigitsData StructureUsage
EAN-13
EAN13.png
13 GTIN-13 Used for marking products that are sold at retail point of sale and can also be used in general distribution. It encodes the Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN-13). Useable worldwide (including the US).Used on retail items that cross the point of sale.
EAN-8
EAN8.png
8 GTIN-8 Used on small packages where the EAN-13 bar code would be too large. Also used by retailers to identify own-brand products sold only in their stores.
UPC-A
UPC-A.png
12 GTIN-12 Used by American manufacturers for marking products that are sold at retail point of sale and can also be used in general distribution.   It encodes the Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN-12). Usable worldwide (including NZ). Used on retail items that cross the point of sale
UPC-E
UPC-E.png
12 GTIN-12 Allows the use of U.P.C barcodes on smaller packages where the UPC-A may not fit. Compresses the GTIN-12 into a 6-digit format. Used on retail items.
ITF-14
ITF-14.png
14 GTIN-12
GTIN-13
GTIN-14
Generally used on higher packaging levels of a product, such as a case or carton. It lends itself well to be directly printed on corrugate material. It encodes the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). Used on a standard product groupings such as a case of dishwashing detergent - 24 bottle count.
Databar (truncated)
GS1_DatabarTruncated.png
14 GTIN-12
GTIN-13
GTIN-14
Designed for very small item identification and mainly used within the healthcare industry. It cannot be scanned with flatbed POS scanners. Example applications include: unit dose pharmaceuticals.
Databar (stacked omnidirectional)
GS1_DatabarStackedOmniD.png
14 GTIN-12
GTIN-13
GTIN-14
Used to condense the GTIN information into a more compact and square bar code suitable for use on small packages and loose fresh produce. It has the capability for omni-directional scanning. Retail point-of-sale accepts GTIN-12 and GTIN-13 structures.
Databa (limited)
GS1_DatabarLimited.png
14 GTIN-12
GTIN-13
GTIN-14
Designed for very small item identification and mainly used within the healthcare industry. It cannot be scanned with Flatbed POS scanners. It is "limited" to the use of '0' or '1' in the first data position.
GS1-128
GS1-128.png
Up to 48 characters Concatenated strings using GS1 Application identifiers Uses a series of GS1 Application Identifiers (AIs) to include additional data such as Best Before Date, Batch/Lot Number, Quantity, Weight and many other attributes. It also encodes the SSCC (Serial Shipping Container). Used for large bulk items such as pallets or logistic units.
Databar (expanded)
Databar_Expanded.png
Up to 74 numeric or 41 alphabetic characters Concatenated strings using GS1 Application identifiers Used for marking products that cross point of sale applications. It encodes any of the GS1 Identification Numbers plus supplementary A1 Element Strings, such as Weight and Best Before Date, in a linear symbol that can be scanned omnidirectionally by suitably programmed slot scanners. Encodes information such as expiration date on fresh foods. Also used on coupons.
Databar (expanded stacked)
Databar_Expanded_Stacked.png
Up to 74 numeric or 41 alphabetic characters Concatenated strings using GS1 Application identifiers Used for marking products that cross point of sale applications. It encodes any of the GS1 Identification Numbers plus supplementary A1 Element Strings, such as Weight and Best Before Date, in a stacked linear symbol that can be scanned omnidirectionally by suitably programmed slot scanners. Encodes information such as expiration date on fresh foods. Also used on coupons.
Datamatrix
DataMatrix_nowhite.png
Up to 2,335 characters Concatenated strings using GS1 Application identifiers A two-dimensional matrixed symbol with specific healthcare applications in the GS1 System. It requires image-based scanners and it is specified for healthcare items. Direct part marking of surgical instruments.

Scanning Code of Practice

For more information on GS1 barcodes, please visit our global website.

Retailers and brands are turning to EPC-enabled RFID in order to quickly and accurately identify, capture and share product information and locations. 

Each RFID tag uniquely identifies an object, so you can use EPC-enabled RFID tags to track individual objects as they move along the supply chain.

Some companies also use EPC to significantly improve their internal processes or logistics operations. For example, companies can use EPC-based RFID for tracking inventory or reordering stock.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is technology used to track and trace objects using radio waves. This technology is part of the family of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technologies that ranges from the traditional one-dimensional barcode to two-dimensional barcodes (like the GS1 2D Datamatrix) to RFID and beyond.

Each RFID application consists of RFID tags, readers, and a computer system. Tags are made up of a microchip and an antenna and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

What is EPC?

The Electronic Product Code (EPC) is a unique number that is used to identify a specific item in the supply chain. This unique number (EPC) is stored on a RFID tag. An EPC is much like a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), which is found in a standard barcode. EPC is a way to uniquely identify a pallet, case, or individual product.

It is the ‘next generation barcode’, but unlike the bar code, which needs “line of sight” to be read, EPC tags use radio waves to read product information faster and more efficiently.

What is the difference between RFID and EPC?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the generic name for automatic identification through the use of magnetic fields to transfer information from ‘chips’ to ‘readers’. EPC is a standardised form of RFID developed by GS1 especially for use in the supply chain.

When should you consider RFID?

  • You need to identify a lot of objects very quickly – RFID can count and identify multiple objects simultaneously
  • You need to identify objects that are part of other things (e.g. airframe parts, medical kits, cases of goods.) – RFID does not require line-of-sight, like bar codes, so there’s no need to disassemble kits to count components
  • You are operating in a hazardous environment or in open space (e.g. truck or rail yard.) – RFID can “read” across long distances, keeping personnel out of harm’s way
  • You can’t afford to devote human labour to the identification task – RFID does not require a human to align and scan an object; counting happens automatically
  • You need to add information associated with the product over time – Most RFID tags now are re-writable, or can be written in segment, so information can be easily added to an RFID tag over time.

What does it cost?

To find out how RFID can work for your business please contact Gary Hartley.

For more information you can also visit our global website.