EPCglobal has certified a new software standard for companies using Electronic Product Code (EPC) to track their products throughout their global supply chains.
The royalty-free standards developed by EPCglobal are the foundations in the continuing construction of a global supply chain information network that combines radio frequency identification (RFID)technology, existing communications network infrastructure and EPC, a number for uniquely identifying an item.
A unified data system would allow changes in information about product sizes, weight, name, price, classification, transport requirements and volumes to be immediately transmitted along the supplychain. For example it would allow shippers to immediately know if the amount of product stacked on a pallet had changed, or give a retailer time to adjust display space.
EPCglobal is a subsidiary of GS1, a not-for-profit standards organisation entrusted with driving the global adoption of the technology and related network.
The system is being built to help companies save money throughout the supply chain by using the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Hormel Foods, Kraft, Unilever,Wegmans Food Markets and Sara Lee are among the food companies that have signed up to implement the system.
The new software standard, known as the Application Level Events standard, or ALE, is the first created by the EPCglobal community specifically for software.
ALE was developed by about 100 leading companies within the EPCglobal software group and establishes the approach EPC-enabled software products will take in collecting, managing and routing dataEPC technology generates in the supply chain.
"The community is making swift strides in the commercialization of RFID and EPC technology," stated Chris Adcock, president of EPCglobal Inc. "This royalty-free software standardwill facilitate the creation of a standardised approach for filtering and collecting EPC information within the EPC-enabled enterprise, allowing the development of systems that will achieve businessvalue more efficiently."
The announcement follows the successful interoperability testing of prototype software from several software and hardware providers, including Acsis, ConnecTerra, GlobeRanger, IBM, ProgressSoftware and Reva Systems.
The tests ensure that the implementations built to the standard will work with each other to meet the requirements of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers operating across multiple industries.
The new standard joins other EPCglobal standards, including the UHF Generation 2 standard for RFID technology, which was ratified jin December 2004.
Generation 2 is the new higher RFID standard currently replacing the previous means of communicating between tags and readers.
An EPCglobal standard ensures interoperability and sets minimum operational expectations for various components in the EPCglobal Network, including software and hardware components.
The EPCglobal Network was developed by the Auto-ID Centre, an academic research project headquartered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with labs at five research universitiesaround the globe. EPCglobal was formed to commercialise the research.
Other companies involved in the creation of the network include Wal-Mart, Metro, Colgate Palmolive, E J Gallo, Gillette, Johnson & Johnson, Kroger, Lowe's, Office Depot, Paramount,Pep Boys, Procter & Gamble and Staples.
External links to companies or organisations mentioned in this story: