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Identifying Items

Apparel suppliers need to decide how they will assign unique serial numbers.
By Ken Traub
Another option is to use number-management software that communicates with the tagging lines to assign small ranges on demand. A tagging line requests, say, 1,000 serial numbers for a given GTIN, and the software responds with numbers 5,000 through 5,999. When a second line requests numbers for the same GTIN, it gets a different range. The advantage of this scheme is that it creates fewer "holes" of unused numbers within the overall serial number space.

It's also a good choice if the supplier makes many different products, or if there are frequent changes to where products are tagged.

The fourth method takes advantage of a unique "tag identifier" (TID) serial number burned into RFID tags by tag manufacturers, which ensures it is unique across all RFID tags worldwide. The apparel manufacturer merely copies the TID serial number into the SGTIN, so no recordkeeping is required. But there are two caveats: Only a portion of the TID serial number fits into the SGTIN-96, so there is a danger of duplicate numbers, and the supplier doesn't control which serial numbers are used for each GTIN, making it difficult to change methods later.

Ken Traub is the founder of Ken Traub Consulting, a Massachusetts-based firm providing services to software product companies and enterprises that rely on advanced software technology to run their businesses.

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