What is GS1?

GS1 Barcodes
the truth behind the bars
management software for narrow web labelprinters
What is GS1?
• GS1 is an organization dedicated to the design and
implementation of global standards and solutions to
improve the efficiency and visibility of supply chains
globally and across sectors.
• The GS1 system is the most widely used supply chain
standards system in the world.
• GS1 standard is formally known as EAN standard.
GS1-128 code (1)
The goal is to identify logistic units via a set of GS1-128 barcodes (formally
known as EAN128 barcodes). So don’t use simple Code 128!
These barcodes are a subset (variant) of Code128. The GS1-128 is different
because it has a special character (FNC1) at the start which is automatically
present. This allows the scanner to recognize the type of barcode.
GS1-128 barcode support the use of Application Identifiers (AI). An AI allow to
identify different data blocs of information within 1 barcode, like product ID,
batch ID, Best before date, etc.
Note: GS1 also supports 2-D codes like Datamatrix.
GS1-128 code (2)
The AI defines the meaning, the format and length (fixed or variable)
of the data bloc that follows.
The FNC1 symbol (in L&L: chr$ (254) must also be used inside the
barcode to identify the end of a data bloc with variable length. For
data blocs with a fixed length, this is not necessary.
Lists of all existing AI (approx. 100) exist. (link)
The list contains the ID of all Application Identifiers and their official
‘name’ (data title) to be used.
GS1-128 code (3)
GS1-128 code sets A, B and C allow to specify the kind of characters.
Code 128 includes 107 symbols: 103 data symbols, 3 start codes, and 1 stop code. To represent all
128 ASCII values, there are three code sets (A, B, C), which can be mixed within a single barcode.
See L&L
Code set A : can contain ASCII characters 00 to 95 (0-9, A-Z and control codes), special
characters, and FNC characters.
Code set B : can contain ASCII characters 32 to 127 (0-9, A-Z, a-z), special characters, and FNC
Code set C: can only contain 00-99 (encodes each two digits with one code) and FNC characters.
A GS1-128 code can contain max. 48 characters. Start character, stop
character and code set steering characters don’t count. However,
FNC1-characters inside the barcode do count!
GS1-128 code (4)
• A typical GS1-128 barcode has the following structure:
Code set 128 start character (START-A, START-B or START-C)
Code 128 FNC1 character (automatically present)
Application Identifier (AI)
Encoded Data
Symbol Check character
Stop Character
GS1 label size
• Worldwide 2 standard sizes are applied:
A5 : 148 (fix) x 210 (variable) mm
The ‘full option’ label
A6 : 105 (fix) x 148 (variable) mm
Generally contains only 1 barcode : the SSCC. So in this
case use of an electronic message is necessary.
Not forbidden to put more information on the label if
readability is guaranteed.
GS1 - A5 label size
GS1 - A6 label size
GS1 label layout
• A standard GS1 label always consist of 3 parts:
• Part 1 (top) : Free information
• Part 2 (middle) : Human readable information
• Part 3 (bottom) : Max. 3 separated barcodes
• The 3 parts should be separated by a horizontal
separation line.
GS1 label Standard layout example
GS1 label layout – Free information
• Part 1 (top) : Free information
• This part allows to display information like company
name, company address, company logo, etc.
• The partner who prints the label can determine the
information shown in this part.
GS1 label layout – Human readable information
• Part 2 (middle) : Human readable information
This part is meant to display the information encapsulated in
the barcodes in a human readable way.
All information must consist of an AI name or data title
(example: SSCC) followed by its data content (example:
3871234567449326). Data titles must always be in English!
Font use is free, but easily readable fonts like Arial or Times
New Roman are recommended.
GS1 label layout – Barcodes (1)
• Part 3 (bottom) : Barcodes
All barcodes must use GS1-128 symbol technique
A given AI (and its content) can only appear once on the label
Max. number of separated barcodes on a label = 3
The barcode at the bottom of the label must at least contain the SSCC,
but can contain also other information if necessary (however this is not
The SSCC barcode must have a minimum height of 32mm. The advised
height for the other barcodes is also 32mm (with a minimum of 12,7 mm)
GS1 label layout – Barcodes (2)
The max. width of a standardized GS1-128 code is 165mm. Of course you
always need to check the readability on all your scanning equipment!
The display of HR text below each barcode is mandatory !
AI’s Prefixes are always surrounded by parenthesis HR text beneath the
barcode they. However, the FNC1 symbols needed in the barcode to
identify the end of a variable date bloc should not be part of the HR text!
Example GTIN: (01)10614141000019.
Be aware: the parenthesis used to identify the AI in the HR text, should
not be part of the barcode itself, they only appear in the HR text !
GS1 label layout – Scaling
• Scaling rules for the barcodes:
SSCC : must be between 50 and 80%
Other : must be between 25 and 80%
Scaling factor
X-dimension (mm)
X-dimension is the width in
mm of the smallest bar in the
=> See bar width value in L&L
Label layout – Barcode printing direction
• Best practice for printing of barcodes on a label printer:
Bars in the printing direction
Bars opposite to the printing
direction can cause errors
since the paper transport (in
the forward direction) can be
shaky which causes variance
in bar width.
GS1 label layout – Tips & tricks
• To optimize barcode length, apply the following rules:
Use AI with a fixed length before the ones with a variable length.
Place AI containing an uneven number of characters or a lower or
upper case character at the end of the barcode
• Always respect the quite zones: they should be at least
10x the width of the narrowest bar/space element. It is
mandatory at the left and right side of the barcode. A
quiet zone must not be less than 6.4mm wide.
GS1 label position
• It’s not really our concern, but there are rules for label
application on the packaging of the finished goods.
You can find them here.
GS1 Company prefix
• As a (paying) member of GS1 a printing company can
obtain a Company prefix ID. Depending on their choice
(price), the ID is 7 to 9 digits. This influences the range of
possibilities for creation of GTIN and SSCC.
• This ID is linked to the company. Since the company prefix
is part of the GTIN, GLN and SSCC, every single identified
logistic unit can be traced to its origin / destination.
SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code)
The SSCC is the GS1 Identification Key for a logistic unit which needs to be
managed through the supply chain. The SSCC is a mandatory element on the
GS1 Logistic Label and always contains the Application identifier + 18 data
SSCC composition overview:
SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code)
Appplication identifier: The AI “00″ indicates the SSCC-18 data
structure will follow.
Extension Digit: has no defined logic and is used to increase the capacity
of the Serial Reference. It is assigned by the company that constructs the
GS1 Company Prefix: GS1 Company Prefixes are 7-10 digits. Serial
Reference Numbers are 6-9 digits.
Serial Number: is assigned by the holder of the GS1 Company Prefix to
uniquely identify a shipping container (logistic unit). A Serial Reference
cannot be reused for a minimum of 12 months. The combined length of
the GS1 Company Prefix and Serial Reference is always 16 digits.
Check Digit: calculated using the Modulo 10 algorithm
GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)
• As the name implies, the GTIN helps automate the
trading process – basically buying and selling. The key
benefit is to identify a product and to make sure
information (technical and sales) about the product can
be retrieved from the registered GTIN.
• Always contains 14 characters. So, if the provided GTIN
is EAN-8 or EAN-13, you should add leading zeros !
GTIN - Assignment
• Who is responsible for the assignment of the GTIN to a
product? => The company who owns the commercial
trade mark of the product, independent from the
• However, if the owner doesn’t assign a GTIN, he can ask
the producer or distributor to assign a temporarily GTIN
to the product. In that case its an “internal” GTIN code.
GLN (Global Location Number)
• As the name implies, the GLN is a unique ID for the
identification of registered physical locations and legal
GEPIR- Search tool
• The site http://www.gs1.org provides a tool called
‘GEPIR’ which allows to search for company data based
on company name, an SSCC, a GTIN or a GLN.
GS1 EDI messages (EANCOM®)
The GS1 - EANCOM® EDI is a standard for electronic data exchange.
The Dispatch Advice is an electronic version (XML) of the shipping
Allows the receiver to read the detailed information of the content of
a shipment and thus reduce time and errors. (similar to the paper
supplier ASN we use).
More information about GS1 in general and EDI messages can be found
in: \\fileserver\Handl\handl_intern\implementatie_en_documentatie\GS1

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