The EPC (Electronic Product Code) is a unique number / key assigned to specific products / items containing information about them in a supply chain.
These codes are similar to a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) which are imprinted on barcodes. However, unlike a GTIN, EPC can identify a specific unit of a product by its unique & universal ID number. The identification is made possible as the EPC number is encoded in a microchip of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Radio waves can be used to capture the unique IDs at extremely high rates and at distances further than 10 meters, without line-of-sight contact.
RFID technology is leveraged to boost supply chain visibility and increase inventory accuracy. As per market research, integration of sensors and cloud-based abilities in RFID tags, offer lucrative growth opportunities to the market players across segments like- supply chain management, airline baggage handling, industrial logistics, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, brand protection, libraries and media management.
GS1 identifiers are being used across industries as these unique & universal codes help in recording physical events of a product at various touch points in the entire supply chain. For instance, Indian Railways uses GS1 identifiers, encoded in radio frequency tags, to manage and identify the location of its assets – wagons, coaches and locomotives.
For unique identification of its rolling stock, Indian Railways uses EPC/RFID tags designed by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) encoded with GS1’s GIAI-202 standard. Partially implemented system has benefited the railways tremendously which is why once the system is fully implemented, it will be crucial for the visibility of each vehicle that runs in the Indian Railways in near real time. This system will also help Indian Railways in predicting maintenance work schedules, freight traction, and coach maintenance.
GS1 EPC-RFID standards are also being used to facilitate the Electronic Toll Collection system in Indian under the name FAS Tag. The ETC is meant to provide a faster, efficient and seamless travel on the state and national highways.
Similarly, in healthcare, the movement of prescription drugs or medical devices is visible and can be monitored and traced backwards (history of the transfers and locations of a product, from the point of manufacture onwards) and forwards (to see the intended route of the product towards the point of care) using the RFID enabled management systems at multiple points through the supply chain, from source to shelves. This traceability, enables trading partners to share information about the whereabouts of the products in the supply chain. The tracking helps eliminate counterfeit products as well as ensures patient safety.
Beneficial to the industry, RFID once implemented across industries will enable brand owners in immediate and effective product withdrawals/recalls. This will further help in achieving the increased consumer trust, brand integrity and consumer safety through product authentication and counterfeit detection. For more information, visit: https://gs1india.org/content/epc-rfid