Electronic Product Code (EPC): The Daily Definition
What is an electronic product code (EPC)?
Electronic product code (EPC) is a coding method that represents a virtual step up from UPC barcode systems. The EPC is a 96-bit tag that contains a number known as the Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN). Whereas UPC codes contain information on a group of products, a GTIN contains information specific to the individual product.
There are multiple ways to put EPC identifiers on your items. Physically, they are generally located in the same area that UPC barcodes are on a product. Sometimes they are strings of characters (in non-RFID environments), and in other instances they resemble mazes (RFID environments).
And while GTINs are very similar to barcodes, they have a much greater capacity for data storage. EPC can be used to track a wide range of information about the tagged products. Some examples are manufacturing date, product origin, and destination.
Our two cents:
There are multiple ways to put EPC identifiers on your items. Syntax, standards, and other necessary information is located on GS1’s website.
Using electronic product code to track your inventory gives you greater visibility into individual pieces of inventory. Most forms of EPC rely on RFID technology, though — electronic product code is most powerful when combined with RFID capabilities. If you want to take advantage of the power of EPC tracking, outfitting your warehouse with RFID technology should be your first step.
It’s not enough to outfit your products with an EPC. You have to be able to do something with all that tracked data, which is functionality your ERP solution should provide. If it doesn’t, it’s a sign that you’re not using the right inventory management system for your business. And in such a fast-paced business environment, being on the cutting-edge of inventory tracking technology such as electronic product code can pay off in a big way. Don’t let the wrong ERP solution hold you back from taking advantage of it!