Thursday, January 06, 2005

We Dont Need No Stinkin RFID Tags...

From RFID Journal Bar coding for item tracking.

Jan. 6, 2005—Secure Symbology, a New York City-based auto-identification technology company, has introduced a serialized bar coding and software platform that it says provides an alternative to radio frequency identification (RFID) for item-level tracking, inventory control and protection from counterfeiting for the retail supply chain.

Ron Barenburg, president of Secure Symbology, says what makes this system, called Electronic Sequence Code (ESC), different from other serialized bar codes is its patent-pending method of printing variable information, including a unique ID, in a two-dimensional, machine-readable bar code, above a product's preexisting linear bar code. The variable information can be printed in either sequential or random order, as a security feature, and with either numeric or alphanumeric characters. Barenburg explains that the serialized bar code can be printed above a standard reduce space symbology (RSS) bar code (which is used on items with limited space for bar codes) or a 12-digit UPC-A bar code used for most consumer packaged goods in the U.S., or any other EAN/UCC standard bar code format.

In order for a product manufacturer to use the ESC system, Secure Symbology will work with that company to add a unique product ID plus any variable information, such as expiration dates or allergy warnings, to the bar codes that company already uses on its products. A patent-pending printing process lays the 2D composite bar code plus human-readable information above the linear, static bar code number, such as a UPC-A.

Cameras would read the serialized ESC bar code on each item on the production line and correlate that number with the unique ESC bar code number on the case the item is packed into and the ESC bar code number on the pallet on which the case is transported through warehouses and distribution centers and all the way to the retailer. Barenburg says this information would be collected throughout the supply chain by scanning the bar codes with scanners linked to the Web-based ESC software.

"I can't say this enough—I'm not bashing RFID," says Secure Symbology's president, Ronald Barenburg. "But we are giving people the ability to do today what RFID will allow them to do 10 years from now."

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