GS1 announces new, smaller bar code which carries more data

Global task force sets 2010 adoption date for use on any trade item

GS1, the not-for-profit standards organisation, today announced a global adoption date of 1 January, 2010 for a new bar code called Reduced Space Symbology (RSS). The new bar code is over 50 per cent smaller than the commonly used GS1 bar code seen on most products today. They will coexist for the foreseeable future. The decision to switch over to RSS will be made by brand owners who may choose the smaller sized bar code to share more information about the product with trading partners, reclaim space on packaging for design purposes or provide more consumer communication.

RSS will enable the identification of smaller products such as pharmaceuticals as well as hard-to-mark products, such as fresh foods. Unlike the common GS1 bar code, RSS can carry serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiry dates. This level of information supports product authentication and traceability initiatives, product quality assurance, variable measure product identification, and the handling of coupons.

"RSS is a valuable addition to the GS1 System. The introduction of RSS and the advent of RFID and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) in the supply chain will enable increased collaboration between trading partners and better visibility of products in the supply chain. RSS is a simple solution for trading partners looking for advanced information sharing who cannot justify the investment in RFID yet. It provides a good migration path for those companies. GS1 UK will provide support and guidance to end-users over the next three years to help prepare for the transition," said Andrew Osborne, Chief Technical Officer, GS1 UK.

The adoption date of 2010 sets the goal for bar code systems to be capable of scanning RSS bar codes and processing the additional information. Separate dates will be set for the use of the additional data for new application areas by global standards work groups. Initial priorities were established for identification of fresh food, variable measure, and pharmaceutical products sold at retail.

Today's announcement follows a compelling business case review by a global task force comprising retailers, fast moving consumer goods manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, GS1 Member Organisations and trade associations.

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