Global Standards Improve Supply Chain

The GS1 Item Alignment initiative via the GDSN now includes foodservice.


Here’s an update on the status of GS1 standards-based Item Alignment via the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). A lot has changed in the last two years.

GS1 US has a new CEO, Bob Carpenter, who is devoted to the advancement of GS1’s core mission in the United States. I believe that having a senior executive who is fully committed to advancing the standards-based initiatives in the United States and improving commerce for GS1 community members is a good structural change.

Further, it is my opinion that GS1 has found a quality individual—experienced, hard-working and well-educated—to fill the organization’s most important leadership role.

I spent some time speaking with Carpenter, as well as some of his key executives. What I learned is detailed below.

Executive Vision

Carpenter has set five key areas of focus for GS1 US that he calls “The Focus Five”:

Community enablement: This includes better processes, tactics, and tools, including better analytics to bring companies “on board” with item alignment EPCglobal adoption, and other GS1 initiatives.

Sector focus: New organizations have been formed within GS1 US to advance adoption in the foodservice and healthcare industries.

Data quality: The effort here is to develop specific tools and practices, including a data quality scorecard, to enhance and improve the accuracy of product information related to the Global Trade Identification Numbers (GTINs) being transacted in the network. GS1 US is actively working with retailers in this area.

This focus helps bring about a smoother and more valuable adoption of the internal master data-management initiatives that are ongoing at so many companies.

Fresh food: This area involves not only bringing the standards-based initiatives of GS1 US efforts—found for so many years in “dry goods”—to meats and produce, but also providing meaningful initiatives to improve product safety and traceability.

Breakthrough projects: These initiatives are a bit more long-term. Carpenter has assigned an experienced GS1 US product executive to look toward the future and bring two key, broadly defined areas of interest to fruition:

  1. Visibility 2010: Use the power of RFID to show exactly where GTINs are in the supply chain for the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and the EPC Global Network. This has potentially huge value relative to product authenticity, supply-chain management, and product-recall consumer safety.
  2. B2C: Ensure the authenticity and accuracy of product information available to consumers through electronic channels. This includes things like being able to scan products in a store with a mobile device (e.g., cell phone, BlackBerry, iPhone, etc.) with a bar code reader-scanner and quickly see things like extensive nutrition, product content, and potentially competitive pricing information.

GDSN Adoption

Working for a leading vendor of GS1 Item Alignment solutions, I meet with many companies looking to improve their supply chain using GS1 standards. I sometimes hear comments like, “Oh, yeah, I remember that data sync thing. What happened to it?”

This section proves that the GS1 Item Alignment adoption, as communicated over the GDSN over both six and 2.5-year time horizons, is thriving.

Over nearly a six-year span, participating Global Location Numbers (GLNs) have increased from 137 to 23,574, and GDSN-registered GTINs have increased from 74,609 to 5,171,170. In the 30-month period of September 2007 to March 2010, the number of GLNs in the GDSN increased 67 percent, and the number of GTINs in the GDSN increased 173 percent.

There are now 28 GDSN Certified Data Pools around the world. The following table shows the current activities of eight of the most active data pools in the GDSN.

To put some context around growth in the use of the GDSN as the method of communicating items aligned using GDSN standards, I spoke with Susie McIntosh-Hinson of the GDSN Inc. division of GS1.

She provided this information:

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