May 2013

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Companies and organisations operating in today’s global environment are faced with the growing complexity of their supply chains, made up of multiple tiers of trading partners, which can lead to delays, traceability issues and inefficient planning. To get a better real-time view of their operations and to mitigate risks, increased collaboration with trading partners, third-party logistics providers and customs offices is crucial.

Why EPC is important for SMEs ?

Companies use the EPC tag to facilitate the process of sharing information about their products and processes. The Electronic Product Code (EPC) is a set of identification coding or numbering standards. Unlike the bar codes commonly used to distinguish a can of soup from a box of chocolate chip biscuits, the EPC can identify a specific can of soup or box of biscuits by its unique ID number. The EPC contains no personal information. Some experts believe that in years to come the EPC – together with RFID – will be as common as the barcode is today. In fact, it is often called the "next-generation barcode".
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that allows the identification of tagged items without a line of sight. It includes a tag, a reader and a computer system. A tag containing a tiny microchip and an antenna is placed on an object. Most of the tags, which usually carry information in the form of a unique serial number, require no external power. These tags are known as "passive" tags. When devices called readers are placed close to tagged objects, a low power signal is sent out to the tag. The tag "wakes up" and responds by transmitting its unique ID number back to the reader. The reader then sends the number to a computer system.

The Electronic Product Code (EPC) is an International standard for tracking and tracing that provides information about physical events occurring to products and other assets travelling through the supply chain through an attached tag that is read electronically. It allows organisations to access and share data about the location of products or assets within the supply chain, making it possible to understand what is actually happening in the physical world as products and other assets are handled during operations in factories, warehouses, retail storerooms and other facilities. However, this standard has never been used between different companies in different countries, only by large companies internally. Despite the benefits that widespread EPC adoption would provide, this is currently unfeasible for SMEs as they lack the time and internal resources to match their current organisation to an international and standardised transport flow.

The INTERREG IVB research project :

Efficient Carbon-reduction and Optimisation of Logistic Operations Generated via Innovative Services, Training and ICT using Cooperative Standards.

Ecologistics aims to improve the collaborative information flow between large companies and SMEs in North West Europe (NWE) by developing an ICT tool for supply chain synchronisation over the EPC network. Five case studies will demonstrate the maturity of the technology for tracking and tracing as well as the feasibility for companies to work together over a secure and reliable application.

The EPC network tool developed by Ecologistics will enable companies in North West Europe to develop more efficient, collaborative and greener supply chains due to better communication between companies and real-time insight into the current location of their products. This would lead to reduced freight congestion, waiting times and unnecessary trips, and improve traceability. By using a European tracking and tracing standard, the ICT tool will be attractive not only for SMEs and large companies locally, but also across Europe, and will make information exchange more efficient for all companies in the supply chain.

University of Mons (BE), Multitel (BE), EuraLogistic (FR), GS1 France (FR), Institut für Producktions und LogistikSysteme (DE), Transport Terrestres Promotion Northern France (FR), Ecole centrale de Lille(FR), Tudor (LU), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (NL), Merseytravel (UK), Logistics in Wallonia (BE), Forem (BE)

Project News

Currently, Tudor, with the support of all the Ecologistics partners, is defining the needs of the SMEs through the Great Region in order to use the EPCIS demonstrator to be built in 2014.

In order to gather these needs, different actions are displayed with the local stakeholders such as workshops, conference and, interviews. The aim is to collect extensive data from companies in order to propose a demonstrator fitting to the reality of their business and to show them the potential benefits they could gain by using the EPCIS.

Second Ecologistics Workshop

The main objective is to set up an ICT-based demonstrator dedicated to identification and communication technologies in the supply chain (barcodes 1D & 2D, RFID).

This tool will highlight strenghts and limits of different technologies, and their complementarity and interoperabilty thanks to GS1 & EPC standards. Accessible to all, the Ecologistic's demonstrator illustrates scenarios taken from real problems.
This workshop will identify with you relevant scénarios fitting with questions from supply chain's actors.

This workshop will take place on 10th June from 16H at the Forem Formation Logistique of Liège - Rue Jean de Sélys Longchamps, 2 - 4460 - Grâce-Hollogne (Liège):

16H00 : Welcome

16H30 - 17H30 : Conferences
  • Supply Chain's partners : What are their expectations ? - Bernard Piette (Logistics In Wallonia)
  • Standards for a complete visibility along the supply chain - Nicolas Stuyckens (GS1 Belux)
  • Ecologistics : Sharing track and trace data between supply chain partners - Yves de Blic (Multitel)
17H30 - 19H00 : Workhops thematics
  • e-commerce, e-logistics and traceability - Steve Capelle (Kiala)
  • Information flow management in healthcare logistics - Alec Bogossian (Advanco)
  • Synergies between EDI and tracking solutions in food logistics - Jan Somers (GS1 Belux)
19H00 : Cocktail - Networking

Participation is free, but registration is mandatory.


1. What is the difference between the barcode and the EPC?

The EPC does what the bar code does – but more. In addition to identifying the manufacturer and the product, the EPC allows the manufacturer to add a serial number to uniquely identify an individual product. 

Find the FAQ

2. Les étiquettes et les lecteurs sont-ils inoffensifs pour l'homme et l'environnement ?

Des réglementations nationales et internationales ont été établies pour veiller à ce que les équipements RFID, aussi bien les étiquettes que les lecteurs, fonctionnent sans danger pour les êtres humains, les animaux et l'environnement.
Lire la suite

3. RFID in Healthcare: A Framework of uses and opportunities

With its potential and unique uses, healthcare is one of the major sectors that RFID is being considered and adopted. Improving the healthcare supply chain, patient safety, and monitoring of critical processes are some of the key drivers that motivate healthcare industry participants to invest in this technology.
Read the full study by the University of Arkansas’ Information Technology Research Institute

4. C&A Expands RFID Deployment

European apparel retailer C&A is scaling up its Checkpoint Systems RFID deployment from five to 25 stores.

More on

5. Mobility in Retail: How Technology Lets Consumers Track Products

Concern from consumers about the origins of the products they purchase is prompting retailers to start using mobile technologies to track provenance and sustainability of goods. But costs could hold back widespread adoption, at least for the time being. 
The article from Cisco’s Technology News Site

6. Item-level Retail RFID: Part 2- The Power of End-to-End

Once items are being tagged at the source, there are many different places and ways within the retail supply chain that RFID can be used to improve performance or provide additional value to the consumer.

The Full article.

7. Using RFID to Manage and Secure Library Materials

Recognizing the need to automate their book handling processes, Bücherhallen Hamburg turned to TAGSYS and library integration partner FKI-L to implement an automated RFID-based solution to streamline the library’s end-to-end workflow. The newRFID application completely replaces the library’s current bar code tracking system
Read the study case

8. Lückenlose Rückverfolgbarkeit und damit Transparenz für kleinste Zutaten

Mit der Umstellung auf eBusiness brachte der Importeur und Weiterverarbeiter von Gewürzen und Gewürzmischungen eine Qualitätsmanagement-Offensive ins Rollen. Einen weiteren Meilenstein setzte das KMU aus der Food-Branche nun mit dem erfolgreich beendeten Traceability-Audit von GS1 Germany.

9. RFID: Getting Maximum Value From a Disruptive Technology

Speaker: Dr. Bill Hardgrave, Dean and Wells Fargo Professor, College of Business, Auburn University
Since its introduction to retail more than a decade ago, RFID has been used in a variety of ways, from pallets and cases in the fast-moving consumer goods supply chain to individual apparel items. In all uses to date, the technology has been misunderstood and underutilized as simply "a super bar code." Only when companies begin recognizing and using RFID for what it truly is—a disruptive technology—will its full value be realized. Hardgrave discussed the emergence and misapplication of RFID, describing how the technology should be properly viewed and deployed.
View the video. | Download the PDF.

10. Parallelnutzung von GS1 DataBar und EAN-13-Barcode

Ab 2014 soll der GS1 DataBar am Point of Sale breitflächig zum Einsatz kommen. GS1 ermöglicht jetzt für die Umstellung bei Industrie und Handel die parallele Nutzung von GS1 DataBar und klassischem EAN-13-Barcode.
Copyright © 2013 CRP Henri Tudor, All rights reserved.

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