GS1 and UDI Barcodes; Requirements meet Reality

As Inventory Experts serving the diverse community that is Dynamics GP users, Panatrack provides an inventory control solution that must meet many needs. Nearing the top of the Frequently Asked Questions list is “Do you support GS1 Barcodes?” Followed by “Can I print and scan UDI Barcodes or UDI Labels?”.  While it may seem silly to ask this of a company that specializes in barcoding, these users know their requirements. Often, the phone call starts with this question because the last people they spoke with didn’t have an answer; however, the team at Panatrack has three words for them, “Yes, we do.” PanatrackerGP supports the printing and scanning of both GS1 and UDI barcodes and labels. There is more to the answer than that, and to learn a bit about these technologies, read on.

What is GS1

GS1 is a not-for-profit organization that defines and maintains communications standards for businesses around the world. The most well-known instance of their work is with barcoding; particularly the definition of the UPC or Universal Product Code that we all know and love. From scanning items at the grocery store to picking products for an order, the UPC is a staple of inventory management. First introduced in 1973 the UPC took off in the late 70’s within grocery stores; 1980 saw more than 8,000 grocers converting to bar-coding and UPCs, this was the first industry to embrace a standardized bar code.

What is a GS1 Label?

When we hear the question, “Do you support GS1 Labels?” Our job is to determine what the user really needs. Most often a client needs to print a GS1-128 Label for shipping and compliance purposes. The label printing package available from Panatrack supports GS1-128 Labels; although as this is a shipping centric label, the shipping information must be fed to the label printing software. For more details on this, see our post here. The GS1 General Specifications set forth by the organization can be found in a 441-page document here. The result is that the Panatrack solution, label printing module and your shipping platform can all work together to print fully compliant GS1-128 labels. Shown Below in Figure 1 is an example of a GS1-128 Compliant Shipping Label provided by GS1 And GENSPEC.

GS1-128 Barcode Label

What about GS1 Barcodes?

GS1-128 Barcodes are the other side of the question; these barcodes can be scanned directly into the Panatrack application. These barcodes are used exclusively in distribution and logistics and do not make their way to retail environments. The most common GS1 barcodes we see in distribution and retail are UPC and EAN. These were the first and are still the most widely used types of barcodes around the world. These UPCs, also known as Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), allow for the worldwide identification of a single item. The standards set by GS1 ensure continuous and accurate tracking of items from cradle to grave.

Panatrack users who need to scan barcodes on a manufacturers item label need not worry; the application comes loaded with scanning support for every major industry standard barcode on the market. An added feature of PanatrackerGP is the ability to scan a barcode and strip unnecessary data; this allows some companies to use the manufacturer barcode while lesser systems would require a relabeling process.

UDI Barcodes – The Requirements of the Future

When it comes to medical devices and equipment, knowing exactly what something is and where it is at is vital. Many healthcare providers are using the PanatrackerGP Fixed Asset solution to keep tabs on equipment and tools throughout a facility. When it comes to the sort of devices modern medicine relies on such as artificial joints, dental implants, or pacemakers the FDA has set forth very detailed rules that will identify these items. This final rule has created the Unique Device Identifier system, requiring labelers to include UDI Barcodes on all items under the rule. 

UDI Barcodes are made of a unique string that consists of a Device Identifier (DI) and a Production Identifier (PI). The DI is an unchanging portion of the code that identifies the labeler and the specific model/version of the device. The PI is a variable portion of the code that will identify information about that item; this can include lot or batch number, serial number, expiration or manufacture date, as well as other distinct information.  These UDI’s must be in both human readable texts, as well as in barcode or AIDC format. See Figure 2 below for an example of a full UDI Compliant label provided by the FDA, Figure 3 shows a UDI Barcode on its own.

Example UDI Barcode Label

UDI Roll Out

This UDI Rule has been set to roll out in stages, over 7 years as we move into 2018, we are entering year 5 which is when the requirements are becoming more stringent and covering more manufacturers. As you can see in the sample below, the amount of data included in a UDI label is substantial while the single 1D barcode is simple for users. Panatrack has worked hard to ensure the application has the full capabilities to read any UDI barcodes. Once the scan is completed PanatrackerGP will populate all the required information to complete the transaction. Ensuring that a label meets FDA standards requires having the UDI assigned by an accredited agency; this ensures uniformity across the industry as the final date of the rule approaches.

What does this mean for your business?

Barcodes have been a key factor in business operations for over 30 years; they are still the most effective and reliable method of tracking inventory through the warehouse. As new regulations are handed down from the government or set by organizational bodies, industries must react. Panatrack knows that maintaining an accurate inventory is one of the most important steps towards success. Enabling your business to properly handle inventory from the moment it is received until the time it is consumed or shipped out is a steppingstone to a single source of inventory truth. While every industry and in some cases, regions have their own barcode standards or formats, the PanatrackerGP application can be used to scan barcodes across the world.

Worldwide Barcode Support

Our client base spans Australia, America, South America, UAE, Europe, and more, there isn’t a barcode format we haven’t seen. The Panatrack Team are your inventory experts, contact us to learn more about how you can manage your Dynamics GP Inventory with one solution.

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