Electronic Product Code (EPC)
The digital age has transformed the way we interact with products and services, as well as the way they are identified and tracked. In this article, we will explore in depth the concept of EPC, its operation and its applications in various sectors.
What is the EPC Code
The EPC code stands for Electronic Product Code is a standard created to facilitate the unique identification of products and objects at a global level. This standard has been developed by the EPCglobal consortium, the EPC is based on RFID technology and aims to improve efficiency and visibility in the supply chain.
The EPC is made up of a series of digits structured into three main sections: Header, EPC Manager and the Serial Reference that contain the following information:
- Header: The header is the first segment of the EPC and defines the type of EPC code structure used. The header provides information about the encoding scheme and the length of the EPC.
- EPC Manager (EPC Manager): This part of the EPC identifies the manufacturer, owner or holder of the product. The EPC Manager is assigned by the GS1 organization, which is responsible for the standardization of product identification systems worldwide.
- Serial Reference: The serial reference is a unique number that is assigned to each individual object or product. This number allows the identification and tracking of each unit of a product throughout its life cycle, from manufacturing to sale to the final consumer.
It is important to note that different EPC encoding schemes can vary in their structure and the amount of information they contain. Some EPC schematics may include the "Object Class" part to provide more detailed identification of the product. However, the three main parts mentioned above are present in all EPC schemes and are fundamental for the unique and global identification of products and objects.
EPC Operation: RFID Tags and Readers
The EPC works through the use of RFID labels and RFID readers. RFID tags contain a microchip and an antenna that store and transmit the EPC information that are attached to the products to be identified and, when read by an RFID reader, transmit the EPC information to the management system of each of the companies. .
EPC applications in different sectors
The implementation of the EPC in the supply chain has made it possible to improve efficiency and visibility in various sectors, such as:
- Retail: EPC allows retailers to keep comprehensive inventory control and improve product management in real time. Thus, errors, losses and costs associated with the stock and replacement of products are reduced. In addition, it facilitates the prevention of theft and fraud, by allowing greater traceability of the articles.
- Pharmaceutical industry: The traceability of medicines is essential to guarantee their quality and safety. The EPC makes it possible to trace the life cycle of medicines, from their manufacture to their sale to the final consumer. This helps combat the illegal market for counterfeit medicines and ensure compliance with health regulations.
- Logistics and transport: The EPC improves efficiency in warehouse management and the distribution chain, facilitating the identification and location of products and reducing delivery times. In addition, it makes it possible to optimize transport routes and minimize the environmental impact of logistics operations.
- Agriculture and food: The EPC contributes to guaranteeing the quality and traceability of food, making it possible to trace its origin, processing and distribution. This facilitates compliance with food safety regulations and promotes consumer confidence in the products they purchase.
- Manufacturing: In the manufacturing sector, the EPC allows detailed monitoring of parts and components throughout the entire production process. This facilitates the detection of problems and the implementation of improvements in the production chain, resulting in greater efficiency and quality of the final products.
- Healthcare Sector: EPC is used in hospitals and medical centers to closely monitor medical supplies, devices, and equipment. Likewise, it can be used for the identification of patients and the administration of treatments, improving the quality and safety of medical care.
- Waste management: The EPC can be applied to the management and monitoring of waste, facilitating compliance with environmental regulations and allowing better organization in the collection, transport and processing of waste.