All About the EPC
The EPC, or Electronic Product Code, is a serial number like the registration number on a car. It represents and helps to identify uniquely the product or object to which it is attached. Often considered the next-generation barcode, the EPC was developed by EPCglobal and its partners to help businesses around the world use RFID technology so that consumers can benefit from safer products and increased consumer protection.
Based on a numerical system developed by GS1 and used extensively in barcode technology, the EPC and EPCglobal Network collate and distribute information about a product much faster and more efficiently than the barcode.
Only a number
Once the number stored on a RFID tag’s tiny computer chip is read, it is sent to a computer system and database. Using the EPCglobal Network, the EPC can be linked to specific product information, such as date of manufacture, product origin, and serial and batch numbers. Authorised partners can share this information to make sure consumers obtain high-quality goods when and where they need them.
The EPC itself never contains any personal data. And linking it to personal information is strictly regulated by local laws and regulations.
If each company were to set up its own numbering system for RFID tags instead of using the widely accepted GS1 standardised identifiers that together with the serial number complete the EPC, RFID systems could never be shared and would only be used internally. Pharmaceutical companies would not be able to authenticate drugs and retailers would spend much more time, effort and money recalling faulty goods, such as toys or toothpaste.
That’s why experts see a future in which EPC technology will be as widespread and as efficient as the current barcode in helping various industries improve the production and distribution of goods.
Many organisations all over the world are already testing and reviewing expanded uses of EPC technologies in order to improve their production and logistics processes – for the benefit of consumers.
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