GS1 Colombia Provides EPCIS Service

The standards body and its sister company, LOGyCA, have created a hosted EPC Information Service for small and midsize businesses in Colombia.
Published: June 19, 2009

One of the reasons I enjoy traveling to other parts of the world is that I get to learn about the differences in regional economies and how companies in those areas operate. What I learned on my recent trip to Colombia (see RFID in Bogotá) is that its economy is dominated by small- and medium-size businesses. GS1 Colombia, an auto-ID standards body, has taken a different approach to its counterparts elsewhere because of this.

GS1 is a federated organization with chapters in individual countries. Each chapter has a lot of autonomy within its own country. In some countries, GS1 charges membership fees and provides Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and services in return. GS1 Colombia charges as little as $5 a year to join the organization and now has some 16,000 members. It makes its money not from membership fees, but rather by providing logistics services for fees.

GS1 Colombia and its sister company, LOGyCA, have built an EPC Information Service (EPCIS) tool called CABASnet to enable its members to use Electronic Product Code (EPC) data without investing a ton of money in new IT systems. I love this idea, because it opens up the power of the EPC infrastructure to any company, no matter how small. (Some companies have developed hosted solutions as well.)

Here’s how it works: GS1 Colombia members get free access to basic data if they feed EPC information into the CABASnet EPCIS, which was built by LOGyCA. So a small supplier to Almacenes Exito can share EPC data with the large retailer at almost no cost. Data is sent via the Internet using the AS2 electronic data interchange (EDI) protocol.

The CABASnet EPCIS application is able to integrate any standard software and is based on the XML standard structure for sharing data about EPC tagged products.

Using the AS2 communication software, data from each read point is sent to LOGyCA’s main server, where the system collects, manages and provides the information to end users via a Web portal.

Companies looking to obtain detailed reports to help them reduce inventory and improve supply-chain efficiencies pay a monthly service fee. The system is then able to provide reports on inventory, shipping, receiving, dwell times—the time goods spent in the warehouse or the back of the store—and more.

“We can even set up e-mail alerts for subscribers,” says Leonardo Vitolo, director of logistics for LOGyCA. “For instance, the system can alert you when goods are about to expire, a case is not moving, there is an impending out-of-stock or logistics commitments haven’t been met. So if goods are supposed to be shipped from a cross-docking facility by the end of the day and they spend the night in the facility, we can inform the shipper of that.”

It’s not clear yet how eager small businesses in Colombia will be to take advantage of this service, but the smart ones will leverage the technology to grow.