FAQ – e-Pedigree

FAQs – Identification of Items and Articles

Q. Can we use our existing GS1 EAN13 barcodes in an ePedigree or traceability system?
A. Yes, as long as you do not wish to track individual items with serialized IDs

Q. We already use GS1 EAN13 barcodes. Doesn’t this give us a unique ID for each item?
A. No, The EAN13 barcode can not carry enough data for individual IDs. It identifies the article. For example, every 330ml bottle of cola has the same EAN13 barcode and no individual bottle can be identified

Q. What do you mean by “Serialization” and what difference does it make?
A. Serialization is the identification of individual items with a unique serial number. With serialization you get the opportunity to create an “ePedigree” to   follow each unique item through it’s lifecycle
Many countries are planning mandatory serialization of certain items, such as pharmaceutical and food products

Q. What are our options for GS1 standard serialized IDs?
A. Currently GS1 standards are in place for 2D (datamatrix) barcodes and RFID tags/labels

Q. What is RFID?
A. Radio Frequency Identification.
A small tag containing an RF chip and antenna stores data which can be read using standardized readers
The tag can be integrated with existing labels or attached elsewhere on an item

Q. RFID sounds expensive. What extra value may it give us?
A. RFID tags can be read, and the data they contain recorded, without having to visually see the tag, thus data capture processes can be automated and carried out at vastly increased speeds compared to barcode technology. In some applications it is feasible to read over 500 RFID tags in one second.
RFID tags can also be used to guarantee the authenticity of an item

Q. Can we update the data stored on RFID tags during the lifecycle of the item?
A. Yes, but it is not usually the optimal solution.
Data can be updated on an RFID tag using a normal RFID reader, however it can take time and competence for the user.
In most systems the data is stored in a central database and the RFID tag is only used to carry the unique identity of the item and any other critical information for users who may not be able to access the database, and thus they have no particular advantage over datamatrix barcodes in this area.
RFID tags can also carry sensors to record additional information such as temperature conditions, exposure to moisture, etc, which is then uploaded to the central database via a.standard RFID reader

Q. How can we decide which form of ID is best for us?
A. Generally speaking EAN13 barcodes are already marked on packaging and offer a low cost, simple form of article identification.
2D (datamatrix) barcodes offer increased data capacity, enough for serialization and detailed item information such as expiry date, etc.
Barcodes are usually printed, and thus have the potential to be damaged in certain environments, whereas RFID tags can more easily be hidden out of harms way.
RFID is valuable where the cost of reading individual items, for whatever purpose, is higher than the cost of tagging those items.

RFID is also valuable where the business cost of counterfeit items is higher than the cost of tagging all items with RFID authentication technology.
We recommend that you contact Microtracking or your local GS1 office for further information.


FAQs – The Microtracking System

Q. What is Microtracking?
Microtracking is a service which provides business critical information to members of a manufacturing, retail or wholesale operation to enable increased efficiency, reduced costs increased sales and and ultimately higher profits.
Employees farm data from GS1 standard ID labels or tags during their daily work.
This raw data is uploaded in real-time to the Microtracking middleware which applies business intelligence metrics to generate clear and concise information about the current state of the business, thus empowering management and staff to make optimal decisions and strategies.

Q. Is the cloud a secure place to store our data?
A. Yes. All banks use cloud services for transactions every day.
Some say the cloud is the safest place to store data as a hacker will not know where to look for it.
Multiple layers of security may be added if required.

Q. Can we install the Microtracking middleware/server inside our own IT environment?
A. Yes.

Q. What do you mean “Microtracking is a Service” and how is it different to other such systems?
A. Think of a mobile telecom operator which builds infrastructure and sells access to it on a subscription basis.
Microtracking has built an infrastructure which allows you to capture raw data from GS1 standard identifiers, store it and apply intelligent metrics and analysis; then display your business critical information in a format of your choice on PC, tablet or mobile devices.
Thus you can subscribe to the service for a low initial fee and pay a periodic subscription on a per-use basis-.

  • Very low CAPEX
  • No long IT projects
  • Fast initial start-up (usually within a few weeks of the order)
  • Scalable solution, start small and grow as your needs increas

Q. You say that the Microtracking infrastructure is generic, but also customizable. Please explain.
A. We have generic solutions such as inventory monitoring, shipping and receiving records, supply chain traceability and ePedigree
We can then add custom features like point-of-sale data, alerts and alarms, temperature and humidity monitoring, etc.
You may require tailor made dashboards, reports and statistics to give you clear intelligence about your specific business.

Q. Can I use existing hardware or do I have to invest in expensive computers?
A. You need a scanner and an internet connection for each place you wish to capture and register data. If you already use these in your existing processes you may not need to invest in hardware at all

Q. What is BYOD and will it suit my business?
A. Bring Your Own Device. Instead of a company supplying hardware to their employees they simply use what they already have, like the smartphone in their pocket.
Microtracking data capture and business intelligence applications run on any mobile device and thus BYOD can empower your workforce with no investment in hardware.

Q. Surely we can’t use mobile phones to capture data in a working environment like ours, can we?
A. Rugged phones are a lot tougher than most handheld computers, and it is likely that your workforce already have their phones with them in their working environment.
Take a look at this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XA1SoswGAA

Q. What is QlikView and why is it good for our business?
A. QlikView is a flexible user interface tool which allows you to view the information in which you are interested in a format that suits you.
Most user  interfaces are static, that is, they are designed to show certain information is a particular way and you have to get used to it. QlikView allows you to configure dynamically what information you wish to see about your business and in what format. You can easily generate your own dashboards, reports, statistics alerts and alarms and display them graphically, in tables, charts, pivot tables and many other variables. This means that each user in an organisation can display information pertaining to their role and all users can collaborate with the same data in a format of their own choosing. QlikView can be accessed by PC, tablet or mobile device so you always have real-time information in your pocket for optimal business intelligence and decision making.

Q. Do we need to have QlikView experts in our IT team?
A. No, we can configure it for you, but in large organizations it may be worth having us train some people to do it themselves.

Q. We already have an ERP/WMS/CRM system. Can the Microtracking service interface with that?
A. Yes. We can push the real-time information from the Microtracking service directly into your ERP/WMS/CRM so you can access it using your current IT environment.


FAQs – Advantages of efficient ePedigree systems

Q. What sort of advantages have you seen from other cases?

  • Dramatic increase in supply chain efficiency (significantly fewer mistakes, lower administration costs and corrective actions)
  • Reduced working capital requirements due transparent inventory management at all points in the supply chain
  • Lower production volumes by elimination of waste and shrinkage
  • Reduction or elimination of out-of-stock scenarios
  • Reduction of out-of-date consumables
  • A greater percentage of items sold at optimal price point (less need for “end-of-line” sales and customer incentives)
  • Better market penetration due to real-time comparative analysis
  • Transparent real-time sales incentive management and dynamic competitive initiatives
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased sales and sales margins

Q. What advantages can a brand gain by serializing and thus identifying individual items?

  • Identification, authentication and ePedigree of individual items is the keystone of anti-counterfeit systems
  • Consumers can interact with individual items and the brand using their own devices (eg. their mobile phone)
  • Product recalls can be applied to the individual items affected as opposed to entire batches or article numbers
  • Each item will have its own identity and can be followed through its lifecycle in, for example, ePedigree, service & maintenance, traceability and location based systems, with updates and critical information added at relevant points