EPC/RFID tags use Radio-Frequency Identification technology to encode GS1 ID Keys in the GS1 Electronic Product Code (EPC). They also enable the EPCIS GS1 Communication Standard. RFID works via a microchip, which stores the relevant data (including the EPC) and reflects the data to a reader-antenna by means of electromagnetic waves. Since these waves can pass through solid materials, the chips may be shielded by adhesive film or integrated directly inside the packaging or product.
EPC/RFID tags encoding the GS1 EPC can offer a significant time-saving advantage over other GS1 Data Carriers: The reader and transponder do not need to be in each other’s line of sight and the transmission/reading process is ultra-rapid, which means that this Data Carrier has bulk data capture capabilities – an entire supermarket caddy could be “scanned” in the blink of an eye, without needing to manually pass each item in front of a scanner. Right now, however, the most exciting live-use cases take advantage of this data carrier’s ability to provide exact product localisation – for example in a warehouse
– resulting in optimised time-management for product delivery processes.
The Electronic Product Code (EPC) is an emerging way to globally identify physical objects, loads, locations, assets, and other entities whose use is to be tracked with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags or barcodes via the EPC Network. The EPC includes all the GS1 ID Keys, ensuring full interoperability with existing systems, and also encompasses several other naming structures. This allows other existing naming structures managed by agencies outside GS1 to be incorporated into the EPC system, while maintaining compatibility with existing GS1 System naming structures. This helps ensure wide adoption of
the EPCIS. The EPC benefits from a decentralised assignment method that is nevertheless completely compatible with the GS1 System. The EPC has been designed so that independent organisations can assign new EPCs without the possibility of collision.
Today, all EPC-identified objects are serialised, which means they carry a unique serial number: An EPC assigned to one object is thus different than an EPC assigned to another. This allows unique, accurate and specific identification of individual objects. For every GS1 ID Key that names a unique entity’s instance in the EPC Network, there is an equivalent EPC. This provides compatibility and interoperability with systems based on GS1 ID Keys. For example, GS1 SSCC, GS1 GTIN plus a serial number and GS1 GIAI Keys can create valid EPCs. The EPC is the foundation for encoding an EPC/RFID tag or a GS1 BarCode, which will be used to access information from the EPC Network.