GS1 standards in Technical Industries

ماهنامه شماره 21 (ارديبهشت ماه 1396)

1. Introduction

The industry faces cost pressure, counterfeiting and a race to digitise the physical world.

All trading partners share a mutual need for transparent processes to optimize their supply chains as parts and raw materials enter production environments are processed, assembled and packaged, and then exit as finished products bound for customer locations.

GS1 Standards to identify, capture, and share information about products, locations, and other entities are making it possible for industry to achieve visibility in supply chain and operational productivity. Also it is possible to manage spare parts and finished products before, during and after production. This sector also focuses on relevant industry activities and business processes such as:

  • Digital Factory (Industry 4.0), Innovative Technologies, Spare Parts Management and Automation
  • Direct Parts Marking
  • Maintenance and Repair Operations (MRO) and Serialization
  • Unique identification and IoT (Internet of Things)

2. Technical Industries

Business sectors such as defence, engineering, energy, mass transit and mining face many of the same challenges as the retail and healthcare sectors. These technical industries need transparent processes to optimize their supply chains. As their plants evolve to “Industry 4.0” and mass customization practices, they must also reduce end-to-end complexity.

The following graph shows Technical Industries from a Supply Chain point of view.

Figure1. Technical Industries supply chain

2-1. Industry’s current challenges

Some of the most common challenges that have been reported by the industry which prevent efficiencies in production and cost-saving are as follow:

  • Complex, distributed models and subcontracting
  • Changing part numbers, part variations and increased use of electronics (identification of software versions)
  • Focus on individualisation and customer experience, without losing benefits of mass production (mass customization)
  • Lack of consistent data to develop predictive replenishment models
  • Preventative maintenance and remote servicing enable new business models
  • Extensive search efforts
  • Parts/product loss
  • Costly MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul)
  • Inefficient Quality and Risk Management

Figure2. Lack of transparency

3. GS1 in Technical Industries

GS1 facilitates business/operational processes in the supply chain by providing a common language amongst trading partners, by means of global standards in Identify-Capture-Share.

GS1 standards drive interoperability within this sector, leading to greater efficiency and lower costs.

3-1. Mission

Lead Technical Industries to the efficient development, successful implementation and appropriate use of interoperable global standards, bring together Industry’s experts and facilitate collaborative efforts in order to increase effectiveness, safety and savings along the product lifecycle and supply chain and support the industry with the introduction of smart manufacturing (Digital Factory).

3-2. Focus

Emerging industry group within GS1 at the global level that will initially focus on the use of GS1 identifiers in specific business processes between and within targeted sectors:

  • Defence
  • Energy (fossil, nuclear, renewable)
  • Engineering (machine and plant building)
  • Mass transit (aerospace, automotive, maritime, rail)
  • Mining
  • Construction

3-3. GS1 offer

A set of interoperable, global and open supply-chain standards that help companies more efficiently manage the flow of products (parts/shipments/information) along the supply chain and in the part lifecycle management.

This includes:

  • Identification standards uniquely identify parts, products, assets and shipments. Take the example of the serialised GS1 Global Trade Item Number (SGTINs) ; encoded in a GS1 barcode on a label, or directly engraved on the item, it facilitates visibility throughout the global supply chain.
  • Data carriers such as GS1 DataMatrix and GS1 EPC/RFID offer a necessary foundation for spare parts management, smart factory, maintenance and repair operations (MRO) and direct parts marking.
  • Data sharing standards to ensure accurate and efficient orders, fulfilment and invoicing.

4. The benefits of GS1 standards in Technical Industries

GS1 facilitates business/operational processes in the supply chain by providing a common language amongst trading partners, by means of global standards in Identify-Capture-Share.

Unlike different internal product identification methods that offer limited interoperability and traceability, GS1 Standards can:

  • Reduce cost pressures by increased efficiency in order-to-cash processes, inventory management and a decrease in human error
  • Address counterfeiting and safety by serialized identification that can verify a part’s authenticity from manufacture to the aftermarket
  • Enable the transition to the digital factory thanks to simplified intralogistics processes and the unique identification of “things” in the Internet of Things (IoT)

4-1. In Production

GS1 can help key business processes in Production as listed below:

  • Mass customization:
  • Predictive replenishment
  • Performance/condition monitoring
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Reduction of production downtimes

To explain how GS1 standards can help the production, we can explain it as follow:

  • Serialised identification of parts and finished goods during production will make customisation more efficient: no loss in production speed, yet enabling individual item production.
  • Identification of each (spare) part and asset of machinery in the production process will increase inventory visibility (predictive replenishment) and thus allow more efficient stock-keeping (FIFO, availability)
  • Data capture of each identifiable machinery part and asset during production and real-time data sharing will allow monitoring of its performance, enabling preventative maintenance and significantly reducing unplanned production downtimes.
  • Expectation for overall optimisation using data related to manufacturing in an increasingly global supply chain connecting manufacturing with management, suppliers and customers.
  • Industry 4.0.: Integrating Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) will lead to a stronger and more agile manufacturing organisation.

4-2. In Quality & Risk Management

Another field that GS1 can help key business processes is in Quality & Risk Management. Some of the ways are as follow:

  • Authentication through use of serialised identification and data sharing will help fight use of potentially unsafe counterfeit products and assets, including spare parts.
  • The use of the GS1 suite of standards enhances the efficiency of returns management eventually leading to a sharp decrease in claims and raising quality
  • Serialised identification of parts and finished goods is core to providing valuable life-cycle data (compliance with regulatory requirements)
  • With increased complexity in distributed models and high outsourcing, a global uniform standardised identification system enables interoperability across sectors, across business partners, across subsequent owners and on global scale.
  • Currently in many of the TI sectors, there is no automated way (barcode, datamatrix) to verify the safety certification of an item (only human-readable emblems with written proprietary codification.

4-3. In Logistics

GS1also can help key business processes In Logistics. The main actions are:

  • Speed-up goods in & goods out
  • Smaller stocks & cost reduction
  • Reduction errors
  • Cost-savings across entire supply chain
  • Agile processes

To explain more about the GS1 capabilities to improve the logestics, the following points should be added.

  • Unique, global and interoperable identification standards will speed up the goods in & goods out activities in each phase of the supply chain and thus increase the predictability of delivery of services
  • Use of comprehensible parts, asset and shipment identification will save costs across the entire supply chain, from procurement logistics upto the disposal/recycling of the items.
  • GS1’s SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) increases overall performance of incoming and outbound shipping processes, significantly reduces errors and provides flexibility in connecting with new logistic service providers.
  • Unique identification of parts and exchange of its data between business partners will lead to reduced warehouse stocks and thus to significant cost savings.

4-4. In MRO

GS1 can help key business processes in MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul). Below the key activities have been listed.

  • Using data to improve maintenance process
  • Real-time condition monitoring
  • Increase safety (avoiding incorrect use or unlawful substitutions)
  • Module-based smart maintenance strategies
  • Unambiguous identifications of parts and software versions
  • Tele-maintenance in harsh remote offshore locations

To explain more about these key activities, the following issues should be added.

  • Unique identification will prevent the unlawful and/or otherwise incorrect use and substitution of goods (and its individual parts), making their use more safe.
  • Adoption of global uniform standards will enable module-based smart maintenance strategies.
  • Manufacturers frequently change part numbers and (for electronic-embedded items) its software versions. Unique identification will be key for providing correct technical specs to each individual part, thus speeding up MRO operations and reducing its costs.
  • Data capture of each identifiable machinery part and asset during production and real-time data sharing will allow monitoring of its performance, enabling preventative maintenance and significantly reducing unplanned production downtimes.


4-5. GS1 standards for related key business processes

Besides the specific Technical Industries-related challenges, GS1 also provides standards in other key business processes. The GS1 standards that can be applicable in business processes are:

  • Order-to-Cash Management
  • Catalogue Management
  • Product Recalls
  • After-market
  • Inventory Management
  • Asset Management
  • After-sales and Services
  • Product Data Management

4-6. GS1 in Digital Industry and operations processes

In the world of Internet of Things (IoT), products and devices are automatically identified by intelligent sensors, with the Internet being the communication infrastructure between them. IoT will be a huge boost for more efficient use of robotics. Linking all these elements will provide valuable data that can then be the basis for analytics and process optimisation. Security of this data is essential for a successful and efficient Smart Industry.

An interesting example of efficient use of sensors is the use case of Rolls Royce (airplane engines):

“A Rolls Royce plane engine is equipped with hundreds of sensors, collecting information on engine health, fuel use, vibrations, etc…in near real-time. Airlines will be able to use this information to decrease fuel use, fly more efficient routes, etc…

Rolls Royce uses the data to make their maintenance and repair operations more efficient. Amongst others making sure parts are replaced or maintained before they actually fail to work and perform maintenance at times and places where they disturb the airlines operations, i.e. when airplane is inactive (during night). Being able to retrieve all this data in real time also enables the introduction of new business models, such as earning when aircrafts fly, rather than when engines are serviced (“pay-per-use”). ”

In the future, it will enhance global supply chains, turning our world into an information economy, the “digital economy”.

To raise market confidence, support Smart Industry strategies and make sure investments in future products and services bear fruit in the long run, global security and data standards are required.

Ensuring that each product, each device, each service is uniquely identifiable within the global supply chain and along the item’s lifecycle, is an essential part in this Digital Industry strategy.


5. Conclusion

GS1 identification keys provide companies efficient ways to access information about items, services, locations in their supply chains, and share this information with trading partners. ID keys enable organizations to assign standard identifiers to products, documents, physical locations and more. Because GS1 ID keys are globally unique, they can be shared between organizations, increasing supply chain and product lifecycle visibility for trading partners.

Serialization of items will facilitate the identification of each single instance, providing full traceability when shared with trading partners. Using the serial number as a key enhances efficiency in managing product data, product lifecycle and MRO activities – and provides a very high level of authentication (anti-counterfeit).

Many companies with different legacy systems have already implemented GS1 global standards to increase their internal efficiency and visibility and to prepare for cross-company smart manufacturing.

GS1 currently focuses on Defence, Energy, Engineering, Mass Transit, Mining and Construction. Agreeing on a unique identification system across sectors will benefit all trading partners. Smart Manufacturing strategies will speed up this process.

Adopting GS1 standards have some benefits for end-users. End-users source their parts and finished products from various suppliers worldwide. They experience huge difficulties in working with a multitude of proprietary identification systems. Globally unique identifiers facilitate the detection of counterfeit parts and increase both inventory and product lifecycle visibility.

A standardized unique identification system will bring structure into the parts stock management of a production site, creating inventory visibility, a transparent order-to-cash management, seamless MRO activities with exceptional reduction of unplanned production downtimes and an efficient and fast recall process.