Supply Chain Gets Item-Level Tagging Standards
June 11, 2012 Dan Burger
Tracing individual products as they move through the global supply chain is on the verge of becoming as easy as tracing a truckload of vegetables on its path from Fresno to Philadelphia. We’re not there yet, but the wheels are in motion. For IT Jungle readers and IBM midrange systems users in the apparel or food and beverage industries particularly, the evolution of electronic product codes (EPCs) to item-level tracking is a sooner rather than later proposition.
Most supply chain-driven companies have systems in place that are error prone, inefficient, and sometimes in the food and beverage business run afoul of regulatory compliance mandates.
The latest move to gain supply chain efficiencies came last week when the information standards organization GS1 US released guidelines for what are known as Serialized Global Trade Item Numbers. The guidelines include best practices and methodologies for assigning globally unique identification to individual items using a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) plus a unique serial number.
Assigning a standardized number to individual items means that identical units of the product are uniquely identifiable, making it possible to use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for inventory counts and ensure the product is in the right place at the right time.
Pam Sweeney, senior vice president of logistics systems at Macy’s spoke in favor of the new guidelines saying, “This should be part of every company’s EPC item-level RFID implementation toolbox. It helps companies understand the importance of serialization, its relationship to the technology, and why standards are so important when managing serialization.”
The apparel industry is leading the way in the item-level tagging efforts. Macy’s was one of the major retail companies that participated in crafting the guidelines. Several other large retailers were part of the working group responsible for the document, including: Jockey International, Lord & Taylor, Maidenform, and PVH Corp (owner of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and other leading brands).
“Serialization is a critical component of any EPC-enabled RFID implementation and a necessary first step for companies to prepare for the future retail supply chain,” said Patrick Javick, vice president of industry engagement at GS1 US. Javick said the guidelines will help companies leverage existing technology investments and move forward with EPC item-level implementations.
For more information on the how GS1 US is serving the needs of the apparel industry, the new EPC-enabled RFID Serialization Management for SGTIN-96 guidelines, or the GS1 US EPC Item Level Readiness Program, visit http://www.gs1us.org/apparel.