Electronic Product Code (EPC/RFID)

GS1 EPCglobal is a suite of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) standards and services for increased visibility and efficiency throughout the supply chain and higher quality information flow between companies and their key trading partners.
The EPC is a unique number that is used to identify a specific item in the supply chain. The EPC is stored on a RFID tag, which combines a silicon chip and an antenna. Once the EPC is retrieved from the tag, it can be associated with the data held in a secured database, such as where an item originated or the date of its production. It is the next generation of the bar code, but unlike the barcode, which needs “line of sight” to be read, EPC tags use radio waves to read product information faster and more efficiently.

Components of the EPCglobal Network are:

  • Electronic Product Code (EPC)

Unique number that identifies a specific object in motion in the supply chain.

  • ID System

The ID System consists of EPC tags and EPC readers. EPC tags* are RFID devices that consist of a microchip and an antenna attached to a substrate. The EPC is stored on this tag, which is applied to cases, pallets and/or items. EPC tags communicate their EPCs to EPC readers using RFID. EPC readers communicate with EPC tags via radio waves and deliver information to local business information systems using EPC Middleware.

  • EPC Middleware

EPC Middleware manages real-time read events and information, provides alerts, and manages the basic read information for communication to EPC Information Services (EPC IS) and a company’s other existing information systems. EPCglobal is developing a software interface standard for services enabling data exchange between an EPC reader or network of readers and information systems.

  • Discovery Services

A suite of services that enable users to find data related to a specific EPC and to request access to that data. Object Naming Service (ONS) is one component of Discovery Services.

  • EPC Information Services

Enables users to exchange EPC-related data with trading partners through the EPCglobal Network.

Key benefits for consumers and businesses: 

  • The EPC can help reduce counterfeiting in a variety of product categories from toys to electronics to pharmaceutical products and clothing.
  • The EPC can improvе the tracking of cargo
  • The EPC can help track food products, such as meat and milk. In some countries livestock is already being tagged with RFID chips to track the animals to point of sale.
  • The EPC can help monitor product freshness for goods with expiration dates.
  • The EPC can get the products consumers want on the shelves at the right time by providing unprecedented visibility of products in the supply chain, allowing retailers to track inventory more effectively and reorder products more efficiently.
  • The EPC can provide businesses with a faster and more efficient way to recall defective products.
  • The EPC can protect the environment by increasing recycling and eliminating hazardous waste from our landfills.
  • The development of EPC and RFID technologies can generate economic growth by creating jobs, spurring high-tech investment, and paving the way for new applications in the future.

EPCglobal Inc™ is the organisation entrusted by industry to establish and support the EPCglobal Network™ as the global standard for real-time, automatic identification of information in the supply chain of any company, anywhere in the world. Our mission is to make organisations more efficient by enabling true visibility of information about items in the supply chain.

More information about EPCglobal on: http://www.gs1.org/epcglobal