What is the GS1 Tag Data Standard?

GS1, a non-profit organization, develops and maintains global standards for business communication. The most prominent of these standards is the barcode, a symbol that can be seen in almost any products available. GS1 standards is continuously advanced to improve the efficiency, safety, and visibility of supply chains across various industries. It defines the product identification, location, dates, and more using its predefined GS1 keys and other existing codes.

The standards set forth by GS1 continue to evolve as it keeps up with the current technologies. A set of standards has been defined for RFID in terms of air interface protocol commonly referred to as “Gen2” and the tag data standard or “TDS”. The Gen2 defines how the RFID hardware system interacts with each other while the TDS defines the Electronic Product Code format or the “EPC” and also specifies the memory contents of Gen 2 RFID Tags. The EPC can be interpreted as a universal identifier for physical objects where product data is encoded in a globally recognized standard format in the EPC memory of an RFID tag with its corresponding GS1 key value(GTIN, SSCC, GLN, GRAI, etc.). Using the TDS format to encode the RFID Tags enable businesses to:

  • transition from Barcode to RFID while still following the GS1 identification keys.
  • upstream and downstream partners in your supply chain have a common understanding of the data (Stored in RFID Tags) being exchanged.
  • easily and efficiently monitor the products in the supply chain. 

RFID in the supply chain

The use of RFID in the supply chain has slowly gained traction as businesses require a faster way to gain visibility of its products. Organizations have integrated or shifted to RFID from their barcode systems due to the advantages an RFID system provides such as increased accuracy and reduced time spent taking inventories, reliable tracking and tracing of assets, improved data transparency, and so forth. Despite the growing number of organizations implementing RFID in their businesses, many still do not use the Tag Data Standard format defined by GS1. They are not fully maximizing the advantages brought about by their RFID implementation if they are not using the TDS format. 

Organizations that use their own data standard to identify their assets within the supply chain is limited by communication barriers with external information systems. Their partner organizations will not be able to understand their asset data standard unless their partner organizations invest on the customization of their information systems to enable data interoperability. Without the GS1 Tag Data Standard, organizations and their partners more likely encounter time-consuming follow-up with customers and suppliers to check basic facts about invoices, stock numbers, quantities, unit of measure, and other data which can easily be retrieved from an RFID Tag encoded using the GS1 TDS format. Simply put, the GS1 TDS allows different information systems to speak in the same language. 

The nexus in the supply chain

The TDS is the universal link that organizations using RFID can utilize to bridge their systems and enable them to interact without having to modify or customize their systems. An example would be in healthcare, a pharmaceutical company manufactures a drug as their product and it is transported to its distributors then to pharmacies and hospitals. The pharmaceutical company registers for a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for its product which may include the expiration date, batch/lot, and serial number. The pharmaceutical company issues an RFID Tag encoded with the GTIN using the GS1 TDS format. As the product is transported to the distributors the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) is issued which includes the company prefix, pallet reference number, and check digit together with the RFID Tag encoded with the SSCC in the GS1 TDS format. The pharmacies and hospitals that receive the medicine scans and decodes the RFID Tags with the GTIN to identify and inventory the products.

In this scenario, if the pharmaceutical company, distributor, and/or the pharmacies/hospitals all use the GS1 Tag Data Standard in their information systems, tracking and monitoring of the products can easily and conveniently be done by scanning the RFID Tags on the product. All the information systems can decode and understand the data contents of the RFID Tags. Data visibility is not limited within an organization but is visible across supply chains.

GS1 TDS and Scannel RFID Products

In Scannel’s effort to promote the application of the GS1 TDS to a wider audience, Scannel has integrated the GS1 TDS to its UHF RFID product line in order to help organizations adapt the GS1 TDS to their information systems. GS1 TDS format encoding and decoding is embedded in the Scannel UHF RFID products. The benefits of using Scannel’s RFID application products:

  • convert GS1 Barcodes to RFID GS1 Tag Data Standard.
  • view RFID Tag with GS1 TDS format’s data content such as item number, serial number, manufacture date, expiry date, etc. without the need to access your information system. 
  • standardize product identification in the entire supply chain without the need to make capital investments in customizing the information systems.

Do you want to have more visibility and traceability in your supply chain using the GS1 Tag Data Standards? Contact us at info@scannel.net to know how we can help you.

Source: www.GS1.org , www.GS1us.org