RFID and barcode data capture interoperability

The track-and-trace solution you select should be capable of easily handling item identification and serialization data capture from both RFID and barcode data carriers.

Even if you don’t plan to make use of one or the other today, you may find that certain jurisdictions mandate one or the other. That means even though you may be standardizing on 2D barcodes for your item-level serialization, in certain markets you might need to apply linear barcodes or RFID tags at the item level.

There is a valuable resource available for anyone who needs to make use of both GS1 RFID and GS1 barcodes—or even just one or the other—on any product or shipping container and in any supply chain.  It is called “RFID Barcode Interoperability, GS1 Guideline” and can be downloaded from GS1.

This is a guidance document, which means that it isn’t a standard itself but draws contents from GS1 standards documents to better explain the subject.  In this particular case, it draws primarily from the GS1 General Specifications  and the Tag Data Standard.

Even if you are already familiar with GS1’s RFID and barcode standards, intermingling them so that they are fully interoperable in a single application isn’t always intuitive.  This guideline starts out by explaining the concept of “data carrier independence,” which lies at the foundation of the GS1 System.  It then explains the data carrier-specific forms that are built on top of that foundation, including:

• Barcode scanner output
• EPC Tag URI
• EPC Binary Encoding
• RFID User Memory Encoding (“packed objects”)

From there it explains various translations from various barcodes and RFID tags into and out of a business application.  Following that is a number of example scenarios that show how to apply the guidance.  An appendix provides illustrations for how to encode and decode SGTIN, SSCC, and GRAI in GS1 Element String form into and from the 96-bit RFID carrier-dependent forms. 

Now that we have established that GS1 standards are most likely to prepare you for global flexibility, let’s take a look at the all-encompassing team needed implement your serialization/track-and-trace/e-pedigree solution.

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