Frequently Asked Questions

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Can GS1’s GTIN and U.P.C. Be Used for Make to Order Items?

(GS1 Was Formerly Uniform Code Council or UCC.)

Question: Our company makes man-aboard lifts that are always made to order. How do we use the GS1’s GTIN / U.P.C.?

Answer: There really isn’t a simple answer to this question, but if you sell the service parts to maintain them, you’ll find the GS1 product identification system very helpful. To understand how the GTIN / U.P.C. can be used in a situation like this, we must understand that the GS1 system is part of a much broader set of guidelines administered by GS1.

Product identification numbers (like the GTIN U.P.C.) need to fit a broad spectrum of product. One end of the spectrum would be a roll of electrical tape that is manufactured in thousands, if not millions, of quantity. On the other end of the spectrum are the types of products that J.L.G. manufactures which are thoroughly unique and carry serial numbers. The Industrial/Commercial Guidelines provide the framework to identify products at both ends of the spectrum. The question was, "Where can we use U.P.C. within our company"? The answer is related to the spare parts and other items that would be sold to maintain the equipment rather than a U.P.C. number on the individual ‘make to order’ item.

It's also important to explain that the GS1 Guidelines tell how to identify various elements of information in addition to the standard GTIN / U.P.C. number (U.P.C. is also the name of the symbology). In this example, the GS1 Guidelines provide an Application Identifier that is assigned to each different element of information that is used by the system to tell whether the data being scanned is a serial number, lot number, purchase order number, manufacturer’s configuration-to-order number, or any one of many other elements of information that could be used in a transaction. Furthermore, the GS1 Guidelines specify a symbology called GS1-128 (also referred to as UCC/EAN-128). It is important to use this special symbology since there may be many other bar codes on products shipping through a distribution channel. This special symbology, used in conjunction with the Application Identifiers, provides the best way to uniquely identify information so that computer systems can reliably input data that has been read by a bar code scanner.

Whether a company has highly complex products or not, it is important to develop a Company Bar Code Policy. It should state what elements of information will be encoded and how the information is to be used. In this case, he understood that they do need to apply for and receive a GS1 manufacturer identification number. They will use that number on parts and they will use the GS1 Industrial/Commercial Guidelines as the basis for their company policy.


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