Electronic Product Code and rfid
The Electronic Product Code (EPC) is the next generation of product identification. Like the Universal Product Code (UPC) or bar code, the EPC is divided into numbers that identify the manufacturer, product, version and serial number. But, the EPC uses an extra set of digits to identify unique items. The EPC is the only information stored on an EPC RFID tag. This keeps the cost of the tag down and provides flexibility, since an infinite amount of dynamic data can be associated with the serial number in the web-based EPC database.
Large retail stores such as Wal-Mart® have thrown their weight behind the EPC, telling its top 100 suppliers they must be UHF RFID ready by 2005. While the EPC standard is still being finalized, the infrastructure is coming into place to enable the EPC in RFID tags.
The EPC Network is a set of technologies that enable immediate, automatic identification and sharing of information on items in the supply chain. In a nutshell, the EPC RFID tag is attached to a pallet, case, or item. Using a reader, a tag communicates its EPC number to a reader. The reader then passes the number to a computer or local application system, known as the Object Name Service (ONS). ONS tells the computer systems where to locate information on the network about the object carrying an EPC, such as when the item was produced. Physical Markup Language (PML) is used as a common language in the EPC Network to define data on physical objects. Savant is a software technology that acts as the central nervous system of the EPC Network. Savant manages and moves information in a way that does not overload existing corporate and public networks.