How GS1 Barcoding Enhances Food Manufacturing

As food processors look to expand their market opportunities, they will face more demands on how their products are labeled. Topics like GS1 Barcoding can be confusing to an owner-operator whose main concern is the daily operation of their business. So let’s dig into the topic of GS1 Barcoding and remove some of the confusion!

What is a GS1 Barcode?  

GS1 is a non-profit organization that introduced the world to barcoding in 1974. Their global standard of barcoding spans multiple industries, from food processing to the medical industry. GS1 established a global language for trade, and has over 2 million subscribers worldwide.

The GS1 Barcode can take multiple forms depending on the industry, product container, and information required. At the heart of every GS1 Barcode is a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number). The GTIN is comprised of two numbers and a check digit. The two numbers identify the producer and the product. The Company Prefix is the unique number that identifies the producer. The Item Reference Number (IRN) is the number that identifies the product. The GTIN allows a product to be scanned and identified anywhere in the world.

UPC-A Barcodes

In the food industry, the type of barcode used on a product will vary depending on what type of product is being labeled. For consumer goods (i.e. tray packs of chicken), the GS1 Barcode will probably be a UPC-A Barcode. The simple UPC-A Barcode identifies the Company Prefix and the Item Reference Number.

GS1 UPC-A Barcode
GS1 UPC-A Barcode
GS1-128 Barcodes

A GS1-128 Barcode is typically used, in the food industry, for wholesale case and pallet labeling. The GS1-128 Barcode contains more information than the UPC-A Barcode. For example, a GS1-128 Barcode contains a GTIN, weight (including UOM), date (best before, packed on, etc.), and product serial number. Having this information in the barcode allows retailers to receive products directly into their inventory management systems without needing to relabel the received products.

GS1-128 Barcode
GS1-128 Barcode

 Enhance Food Safety and Product Recall Capabilities

Using the GS1 Barcoding System helps enhance food safety and product recall capabilities. Each food manufacturer is responsible for tracking every product that comes into their facility, tracking products as they go through the manufacturing process, and tracking where each finished product is shipped. The GS1 Barcoding system is an asset in every step of the food traceability chain. Let’s take a look and see how GS1 Barcoding can positively affect various areas in a food processing plant.

Benefits of GS1 Barcoding in Receiving

All across North America, products arrive on receiving docks in various conditions. Some products are labeled with barcodes. Some products have hand-written labels on them. The GS1 Barcoding System standardizes the entire receiving process.

When an item is received without a GS1 Barcode the information for that product must be manually recorded. Manual processes increase the chance that an error will occur during receiving. Operators must manually record all the receiving information (i.e. vendors, weights, product numbers, etc.).

The GS1 Barcoding System removes the risk of human error. By scanning a GS1 Barcode, products can be received from anywhere in the world. The information required at receiving can be pulled automatically from the barcode and brought directly into most WMS Systems.

Benefits of GS1 Barcoding in the Manufacturing Process

GS1 Barcoding also removes human error from the manufacturing process. Food manufacturers who aren’t using barcodes in their manufacturing process must record product data by hand or in spreadsheets (i.e. product names, weights, production dates, etc.). Information can easily be recorded or interpreted incorrectly. Food manufacturers using GS1 Barcodes can accurately label and track products throughout the entire manufacturing process.

The GS1 Barcode contains crucial information like the product weight, dates, and product number, but it also contains a unique item serial number. The item serial number is a key component in food traceability. Food manufacturers who can track products by the individual item serial number have significantly higher recall capabilities.

Benefits of GS1 Barcoding in the Shipping Process

GS1 Barcoding is an asset in the picking and shipping process. A food manufacturer that hasn’t implemented the GS1 Barcoding System will have limited visibility into what products have been shipped to each customer. Shipped items and weights must be recorded manually, and those records will have limited information. Without detailed visibility into what items are being shipped, the impact of a recall will be much larger.

However, when a food manufacturer implements GS1 Barcoding into their shipping process, their visibility is increased. Product information can be pulled from the barcode and recorded in WMS software applications. Shipping containers like pallets and cases can be picked to orders by scanning the GS1 Barcode instead of trying to manually pick items. GS1 labeling enables a food manufacturer to see which items were shipped to each customer (by serial number). This level of visibility greatly enhances a processor’s recall management capabilities.

GS1 Barcoding Opens the Door for Bigger Opportunities

Finally, most large food retailers and distributors require food manufacturers to apply GS1 Barcodes to all their products. Large food retailers and distributors receive substantial quantities of shipments each day. To streamline their receiving process they rely on their vendors to adhere to strict labeling requirements. By adopting the GS1 Barcoding System, a food manufacturer is opening the door to selling their products into these large establishments.

Carlisle Technology and GS1 Barcoding

Carlisle Technology’s Symphony Software Suite was designed around the GS1 Barcoding System. By partnering Symphony with GS1 Barcoding, a food manufacturing plant will have end-to-end traceability. Check out our Food Traceability for Dummies book to learn more about how GS1 Barcoding can strengthen your plant’s food traceability plan.

Written by: Andy Cumpton, Sales and Marketing – Carlisle Technology

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