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What is Electronic Product Code (EPC)?

What is Electronic Product Code (EPC)?

Electronic product codes are the next generation of product identification codes that globally uniquely identify objects in the supply chain, including items, cases, pallets, locations, and more. The EPC is stored on an RFID tag, which contains a silicon chip and an antenna. When an EPC tag is read, it can be linked with some dynamic data, such as the origin or date of manufacture of that trade item. Much like Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs), the EPC is like a key that unlocks the lock on related product information on the EPC network.

Like many coding schemes in use in commerce today, the EPC contains a code to identify the manufacturer and a code to identify the type of product. But the EPC uses an additional set of numbers - the serial number - to identify individual trade items. The information of the products marked by EPC is stored in the EPCglobal network, and EPC is a key to obtain this information.


EPC codes include:

  1. Header: Identify the length, type, structure, and version number of the EPC
  2. Vendor Identification Code: Identify the company or business entity
  3. Object Classification Code: Similar to Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
  4. SequenceNumber: a special case of tagged object classes

Other fields may also be used as part of the EPC to properly encode and decode information from different coding systems into human readable form.

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