RFID Standards

What is the EPCIS standard? EPCIS (the Electronic Product Code Information Service) is a specification for a standard interface for accessing EPC-related information. Electronic Product Codes allow for unique serial numbers for each individual object, enabling companies to track them independently and collect real-time data about each, as well as store and act upon that information. EPCIS enables supply-chain partners to share and exchange information efficiently, providing a standard interface for trading partners. The result is reduced time spent on integration, since all involved parties can use the same interface, regardless of the different database types used for storing that data. Are there any standards for RFID? Yes. International standards have been adopted for some very specific applications, such as for tracking animals and for smart cards, which require encryption to keep data secure. Many other standards initiatives are under way. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is working on standards for tracking goods in the supply chain using high-frequency tags (ISO 18000-3) and ultra-high frequency tags (ISO 18000-6). EPCglobal, a joint venture set up to commercialize Electronic Product Code technologies, has its own standards process, which was used to create bar code standards. EPCglobal has submitted the second-generation UHF EPC protocols to ISO, and it has been approved as ISO 18000-6C, an international standards. Are EPC standards finalized? No. The standards development process is ongoing. The Auto-ID Center developed Class 1 and Class 0 specifications for EPC tags and handed these off to EPCglobal in September 2003. In June 2004, these two specifications completed EPCglobal’s standardization process and became the first EPC standards. In Dec. 2004, EPCglobal’s board approved a single second-generation standard that will eventually replace Class 1 and Class 2. In 2005, EPCglobal ratified the Application-Level Events (ALE) standard for managing EPC data; ALE software, which can process tag data from Gen 1 or Gen 2 EPC tags, provides an interface for filtering and consolidating EPC data from interrogators. EPCglobal also ratified a standard for the Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS), a framework that will allow trading partners to access and share EPC-related information on the EPCglobal Network; as well as an electronic pedigree (e-pedigree) standard, intended to provide the pharmaceutical industry with a common format that supply-chain partners can use to collect pedigree information for tracking medications. EPCIS was ratified in April 2007, while the e-pedigree standard was ratified in January 2007. Additional standards will be created for high-frequency tags and for other applications as the need arises. What is EPC Gen 2? Gen 2 is the shorthand name given to EPCglobal’s second-generation EPC protocol. It was designed to work internationally and has other enhancements such as a dense reader mode of operation, which prevents readers from interfering with one another when many are used in close proximity to one another. What is the foundation protocol? The term “foundation protocol” is sometimes used to describe the second-generation EPC air interface protocol, or UHF Gen 2. EPCglobal calls it the foundation protocol because Gen 2 is designed a way that higher-class tags will also talk to readers. These higher-class tags will have more memory, encryption capabilities, the ability to use a battery to broadcast a signal to a reader and the ability to communicate information from temperature and other sensors. The Foundation Protocol is expected to be approved by the end of 2004. What’s the difference between ISO and EPC? The Electronic Product Code is a standard created by EPCglobal. Although it was designed to be a global standard for use in many industries, EPC is not an international standard approved by The International Organization for Standardization. EPCglobal, the body responsible for EPC technology, says it plans to submit the EPC Gen 2 protocol to ISO for approval. ISO has created many standards for RFID. These deal with both the air-interface protocol and applications for RFID. EPC deals with more than just how tags and readers communicate. EPCglobal wants to create network standards to govern how EPC data is shared among companies and other organizations. What is ISO 18000-6? ISO 18000-6 is a proposed international standard governing the way tags and readers communicate in the UHF spectrum. There are currently two versions, 18000-6A and 18000-6B. It is possible that EPCglobal’s Gen 2 standard could become an international standard and be called ISO 18000-6C, but as of December 2004, the Gen 2 standard did not include an 8-bit application family identifier, which would be required for it to be an ISO 18000-6 standard. Why is EPC Gen 2 important? Gen 2 was designed to work internationally and has other enhancements that are significant, but the real benefit of Gen 2 is that it works anywhere in the world and major manufacturers of chips and tags have lined up behind it. That competition will drive up volume and drive down price. The first Gen 2 tags arrived on the market in the third quarter of 2005 and several companies, including Avery Dennison and UPM Rafsec, announced low-priced tags. Lower prices and the ability of tags to work internationally will drive adoption. Why is EPCIS important? EPCIS provides a standard interface enabling companies in numerous industries to perform track and trace, diversion detection and product authentication. This offers a lower-cost alternative to multiple, partner-specific interfaces, without a need for customized implementation. Security is a core concept of the EPCIS, as trading partners maintain ownership of their own data, with each partner moving or sharing data on demand. EPCIS maps to existing enterprise applications easily, and trading partners building their own solutions can interoperate with one another’s offerings. Benefits include reduced out-of-stocks, improved promotions execution, counterfeiting detection, diversion detection, electronic proof of delivery, product safety and product availability.

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