The GS1 System

The GS1 System provides the foundation for enhancing open supply chains and enabling visibility, through the use of digital information.

The open nature of today's supply chains shapes the design of GS1 Standards and places a particular emphasis on interoperability between trading partners right across the supply chain.

The GS1 System is portfolio of standards that addresses the identification of real-world entities (both physical and virtual), the capture of data from physical objects, and the sharing of information about those entities, among participants in the supply chain.

The GS1 System components are designed to enable three activities being;

  • identification
  • data capture, and
  • data sharing.

The first layer of the GS1 System is identification. The GS1 System has globally accepted identification keys which provide a common language to communicate item information from company to company. Different keys have been defined for the identification of various objects and entities such as products, locations, assets, documents and organisations.

Examples of the 10 different GS1 Identification Keys include the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for traded products, the Global Location Number (GLN) for identifying legal entities and physical locations and Global Asset Identifiers (GIAI and GRAI) for individual and returnable assets.

The second activity utilising components of the GS1 System is data capture. The GS1 Standards define the means for automatically capturing data that is carried on physical objects, by way of barcode or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag scanning, enabling a connection to be created between physical objects and digital information about them. GS1 System compliant data carriers include EAN, UPC and GS1 Data Matrix barcodes in addition to GS1 EPC compliant RFID tags. Scanning barcodes or reading RFID tags speeds up data collection and eliminates manual data collection errors.

The third layer of the GS1 System is implementing standards based processes for data sharing. The GS1 data sharing standards provide the foundation for electronic business transactions and include standards for master data, transactional data and event data.

  • Master data is shared via the Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN)
  • Transactional data is exchanged via the eCom (EDI) EANCOM or GS1 XML messages
  • Event Data is communicated using the EPCIS or Electronic Product Code Information Service for RFID tagged items.

The GS1 System of Standards is an integrated suite of standards that, when used together, enables companies to uniquely identify, capture and share information about products and other business entities and in so doing to achieve supply chain visibility. The GS1 System is a foundation for traceability and other visibility-driven processes and applications which in turn improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction and business performance.