The Importance of a standard code

2nd August 2021

Automatic Identification technologies start always from a basic point: assign an identity to the object.

RAIN RFID is not an exception and, like many other AutoID technologies, permits to  choose the right code for the object, in other words, the memory where the code is stored inside a label is rewritable.

So, how to choose the right code for your item?

There are two main options: using a proprietary or a standard coding scheme.

A proprietary code is typically simpler to implement, you choose the rules to build your code and you generate the codes accordingly. Having full freedom you can adapt the code to your needs, you can make the code human readable or to be simply numeric. It’s your code and when you use it inside your company it works well but …

What happens when one of your labels leaves your company? You are the only one knowing the rules used to build the code and, consequently, the only one able to decode it. If you are a manufacturer probably your resellers are not happy about that, they will need to replace your labels if they use RAIN RFID to organize their processes. Same situation if a foreign label enters your company.

But this is not the worse thing! With barcode labels you read only one label at a time so it’s simple to understand which item is coded incorrectly, it is the one you are reading in that moment. With RAIN RFID technology you read multiple labels at a time, typically hundreds of labels in a few seconds and without a line of sight so it is not simple to recognize which labels are coded incorrectly. Even worse, some of the foreign labels can have a code that can be decoded using your rules even if it was encoded with different rules!

As a silly example look at the picture below.

The code “EVENTONE#1234” can be created starting from different data sources.

The result is that you can enter an event using a cosmetic product or you can think to have a cosmetic product on the shelf while, maybe, a customer has a ticket in his pocket.

The solution for all these potential problems (and others) is simple: using a code scheme compliant with a global standard. A global standard, like  GS1 or ISO codes, ensures that your code is unique not only inside your company but across all organizations in the world. They also have other useful features, like standard headers that define the type of code and that you can use to filter unwanted labels avoiding errors in your database.

Using  standard codes is mandatory if your product flows along an open supply chain where different stakeholders need to read and decode correctly your code but, as discussed above, it is always a good idea, even if your tag never exits from your company.

But, if you still have some special reasons to use proprietary codes, there is a fair way to do so, ISO standard provides a method to define proprietary codes with a special header that says “Hey, this is a proprietary code!” informing the user who can decide to ignore it or to decode it.