InBrief: RFID and Barcode Interoperability

There is a new and 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 Bar Code Interoperability, GS1 Guideline” and it is available as a free PDF download here on the GS1 website.

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.  Both of those source documents are huge and so you will find this new guidance document a relative joy to read if you need this kind of information.

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 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:

  • Bar code 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 are 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.  Fun stuff.  I don’t think you can find these complex conversions illustrated so clearly anywhere else.

The team that generated the RFID barcode interoperability guide included quite a few experts in both disciplines.  The document was an intensive group effort, and it was edited by Ken Traub.

Like I said, if you need to apply RFID and barcodes in a single application, you will want to read this guide.  But even those who are only applying one or the other will also benefit from a better understanding of the concepts that are exposed so clearly.  Check it out.


2 thoughts on “InBrief: RFID and Barcode Interoperability”

  1. Dirk,

    As usual you are the source of great information and as we are an RFID BAP tag company that can store a wide array of data (SSCC’s, GTIN’s, Serial and lot numbers etc.) this is a great reference document.

    Thanks for the pointer,

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