what is an rfid’s electronic product code?


The Electronic Product Code (EPC) was created by the Auto-ID Center as an eventual successor to the bar code. The aim was to create a low-cost method of tracking goods using RFID technology. The benefit of RFID is that it doesn’t require line-of-site, which means goods can be scanned through packaging and without needing people to scan items. EPC tags were designed to identify each item manufactured, as opposed to just the manufacturer and class of products, as bar codes do today.

Why is EPC technology important?

EPC technology could dramatically improve efficiencies within the supply chain. The vision is to create near-perfect supply chain visibility—the ability to track every item anywhere in the supply chain securely and in real time. RFID can dramatically reduce human error. Instead of typing information into a database or scanning the wrong bar code, goods will communicate directly with inventory systems. Readers installed in factories, distribution centers, and storerooms and on store shelves will automatically record the movement of goods from the production line to the consumer.

Will there be just one type of EPC?

No. The Auto-ID Center originally proposed EPCs of 64-, 96- and 128-bits. Eventually, there could be more. The 96-bit number is the one the center believed would be most common. It chose 96 bits as a compromise between the desire to ensure that all objects have a unique EPC and the need to keep the cost of the tag down (the less information on the microchip the cheaper the cost of producing the chip). The 96-bit EPC provides unique identifiers for 268 million companies. Each manufacturer can have 16 million object classes and 68 billion serial numbers in each class, more than enough to cover all products manufactured worldwide for years to come. Since there is no need for that many serial numbers at this time, the center has proposed an interim 64-bit code. The smaller code will help keep the price of the RFID chips down initially (the simpler the chip, the cheaper the tag), while providing more than enough unique EPCs for current needs. The center foresees using a 128-bit code to cover all the items made around the world.

What’s the EPC header for?

The EPC header is used to indicate the format of the EPC code, (i.e. the length of field partitions), and was designed to make the system flexible. For instance, the header tells the reader whether the tag has a 64-bit or a 96-bit EPC. The header also makes it possible to divide the data partitions in different ways, so a manufacturer that makes large amounts of only a few products could shift digits from the object class partition to the serial number partition.

How can a company track items using EPCs?

Companies have to create a network of RFID readers. In a warehouse for example, there could be readers around the doors on a loading dock and on every bay. When a pallet of goods arrives, the reader on the dock door picks up its unique license plate. Computers look up what the product is in a database, where the ID of the tag is linked to a specific product, carton, tote or pallet. Inventory systems are alerted to its arrival. When the pallet is put in bay A, that reader sends a signal saying item 1-2345-67890 is in bay A.

How do companies use the EPC data to become more efficient and more profitable?

How companies use EPC data and the EPCIS will be up to them, just as it’s up to them to decide how they want to use the Internet. But the EPCglobal has hosted committees of end users in specific industries to create the framework for what data will be collected and shared and what software codes will be associated with tag reads to provide context for the RFID data. For instance, the fast-moving consumer goods industry worked with Walmart and Target to develop standards for sharing data about the movement of consumer goods through the supply chain. The goal was to reduce safety stocks in the supply chain and out-of-stocks in stores. Greater visibility of the movement of goods both within a company’s four walls and in the supply chain will lead to greater efficiencies and profitability.


More Posts

Send Us A Message

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *