Layout Image

GTIN-14 Shipping Container Barcodes

A Shipping Container Barcode (also known as a Shipping Container Code, Shipping Container Symbol or a GTIN-14)  is used on the outside of your master cartons and recommended or required by many mid-to large retailers who are automating their incoming inventory processes

The UPC Shipping Container Symbol is very similar to the Universal Product Code. This symbology is called interleaved 2 of 5 (ITF). The major difference between this barcode and a UPC barcode is the lines at the top and bottom of the barcode. These are called Bearer Bars.

The Barcode is comprised of 4 groups.

1) – Packaging Indicator. We recommend that you assign a number ranging from 1 to 7 for the first digit. If you have a container that has 12 and another container that has 36, you assign different numbers to each.  This is very flexible.

2) The next number is a ZERO. This is required.

3) The next 11 digits are the first 11 digits from the UPC barcode used for the item inside.

4) The final (14th digit) is a check digit.

 

In order to determine the 14th digit, you can create an Excel spreadsheet, put the first 13 numbers in cell A1 and cut and paste  the following formula in Cell A2
=A1 & MOD(10 – MOD( SUMPRODUCT(MID(A1, {1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13}, 1) * {3,1,3,1,3,1,3,1,3,1,3,1,3}), 10), 10)

To purchase barcode graphics: http://www.nationwidebarcode.com/other-services/shipping-container-barcodes/

UPC Barcode celebrates 40th Birthday

George Joseph Laurer developed the Universal Product Code in 1973.  As an engineer at IBM he was asked to develop the pattern used for the Universal Product Code.

A 36-year veteran of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who retired in June 1987, George Laurer is the holder of 25 patents. He is also the author of 20 published Technical Disclosure Bulletins.

During his career, IBM recognized and rewarded him for many technical innovations. He received the prestigious “Raleigh, N.C. Inventor of the Year” award in 1976. In 1980 he was honored with IBM’s Corporate Technical Achievement award for his work on the Universal Product Code proposal that was issued in 1970 by McKinsey & Co. and Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, Inc.

Before joining IBM, he received the B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1951. He came to the University after having served in World War II and attending a technical school to learn radio and TV repair. Upon completion of his first year at the technical school, his instructor convinced him that he should not continue that course of study, but that he should go to college.

The Barcode was first used commercially in 1966, however there needed to be some standards set in order for it to be universally used.

About 1970 McKinsey & Co. (a consulting firm) in conjunction with UGPCC (Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, a corporation formed by the grocery industries leading trade associations) defined a numeric format for product identification. A request was made to many companies to make a proposal of a code, a symbol incorporating the code, and specifications for both. The request went to Singer, National Cash Register, Littion Industries, RCA, Pitney-Bowes, IBM and many others large and small.

Most of the other companies had optical codes and scanning equipment in the market place already. IBM did not. Therefore, in 1971 George Laurer was given the task by IBM management to design the best code and symbol suitable for the grocery industry.

After considerable effort he conceived an approach and detailed the symbol. Two other men then worked with him to theoretically calculate the readability and to write IBM’s formal proposal to the industry.

They submitted three proposals, each with minor changes requested by UGPCC. One was to extend the capacity to eleven digits, and another was to design a “zero suppressed” version.

All contenders were asked to demonstrate their equipment and have it evaluated by Battelle Memorial Institute. Laurer was very instrumental in the design of the equipment and received several patents describing the methods they used in “finding”, decoding, and error correction.

In May of 1973, IBM’s proposal was accepted. The only changes made by UGPCC was the type font used for the human readable and the ink contrast specification.

The UGPCC migrated to the U.P.C. symbol set or Universal Product Code, which is still used throughout the US and Canada. (The EAN, a variation of the UPC is used in other parts of the world) Because of this, George J. Laurer is considered the inventor of UPC or Uniform Product Code, which was invented in 1973.

The first UPC barcode scanner was installed in Troy, Ohio in June 1974 and the first product to have a barcode printed on the product was a pack of Wrigley’s Gum.

Additional information http://www.laurerupc.com/
http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventions/a/Bar-Codes.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_J._Laurer
http://www.nationwidebarcode.com

The mystery of the “Zero Suppressed Symbol” or the U.P.C. symbol, “Version E”

Used with permission. This Tutorial was created by George Laurer, the creator of the U.P.C. Barcode Symbol. Copyright ID History Museum 2007-2012 http://www.idhistory.com

The U.P.C. code and symbol was invented to only satisfy the need of the grocery industry in 1973. At that time there were only a few hundred large grocery manufacturers or “converters” as they were sometimes called. They had a great influence on the project and insisted that a method be devised to allow the zeros in their manufacturer number and their item numbers to be suppressed and provide for a symbol that required less area. It was felt that this was absolutely necessary if they were to put symbols on small packages like Jello, gum, and cigarettes.

The ingenious solution centered on the character sets used for the left and right halves of the symbol. Version A was designed to be read as two separate halves and assembled into one 12 digit number by the scanner. The scanner determined that a set of 6 numbers was the left half of a number if it was encoded using all bar/space combinations from the “odd parity character set”. The scanner determined that a set of 6 numbers was the right half of a number if it was encoded using all bar/space combinations from the “even parity character set”. It was realized that if three digits were from the odd parity character set and three were chosen from the even parity character set, there would be 20 permutations available. This essentially provided two additional digits with very little degrading of the checking provided by the parity of the characters. Thus one could encode two sets of 7 numerical digits in one half of the symbol and the scanner would require no modifications to find and read the smaller symbol.

The solution was to encode the check digit (Ck) and the system number (Sn) by choosing the proper even-odd parity characters from a table. Sn would only have a value of 0 or 1. Later, when the need for a 13th character arose to satisfy the needs of Europe, Version E system number 1 was dropped and those patterns used for EAN-13.

Although there were only a hundred or so very large manufacturers, it was understood that to gain wide acceptance of the U.P.C. provisions would have to be made for all grocery converters to have at least a few Version E symbols. To accommodate this requirement the last of the printed 6 digits defines the compression scheme used. The largest manufactures are able to encode 1000 items in Version E the next largest 100, the next largest 10, and the smallest manufacturer can encode 5 item numbers in Version E. The UCC was only concerned with grocery manufactures and the converters would all be given System Number 0 prefixes. Care was taken to issue manufacturer numbers ending with one or more zeros based on their size. The compression schemes follow.

Companies assigned a 5 digit manufacture number ending in 000, 001 or 002 of which there could be 300, are able to encode 1000 numbers for use in Version E.
[Sn-M1 M2 m3 0 0– 0 0 I3 I4 I5-Ck] would be encoded as [M1 M2 I3 I4 I5 m3]

Companies assigned a 5 digit manufacture number ending in 003, through 009 of which there could be 700, are able to encode 100 numbers for use in Version E.
[Sn-M1 M2 M3 0 0–0 0 0 I4 I5-Ck] would be encoded as [M1 M2 M3 I4 I5 “3”]

Companies assigned a 5 digit manufacture number ending in 0 of which there could be 10,000, are be able to encode 10 numbers for use in Version E.
[Sn-M1 M2 M3 M4 0–0 0 0 0 I5-Ck] would be encoded as [M1 M2 M3 M4 I5 “4”]

 

 

Companies assigned a 5 digit manufacture number not ending in 1 through 9, the remaining 89,000 of the 100,000, are able to encode 5numbers for use in Version E.
[Sn-M1 M2 M3 M4 M5–0 0 0 0 I5-Ck would be encoded as [M1 M2 M3 M4 M5 I5]

 

In all Version E formats, the check digit (Ck) is encoded by choosing the proper even-odd parity characters from a table. The system number (Sn) value of 0 is implied. Although only manufactures that are issued prefixes starting with system number 0, can use Version E, 100,000 manufactures are able to encode over one half a million Version E symbols.

When the scanner reads half a symbol the logic determines what type of symbol it is by noting the parity patterns. If the characters are all encoded using the “even” character set, the half symbol is the right half of a Version A or EAN-13. If they are all from the “odd” character set it is the left half of a Version A symbol (the Country Flag* is 0 in that case). If three characters are from the “odd” set and three characters are from the “even” set, the half is either the left half of an EAN-13 or it is a Version E symbol. If the the first character of the latter halves is from the “even” character set it is a Version E symbol, (Country Flag is 0). The number is expanded by interrogating the sixth digit character. The check value is found by a table lookup of the character parity parity pattern. In the case of EAN, the fist characin is from the “odd” character set and the Country Flag* is found by a table lookup. Any combination of characters from the “odd” and “even” sets other than those described, is invalid and is designated as a reading error.

Country Flags some country designations also use the system number and the first digit of the manufacturer’s number to further subdivide the Country Flag.

This Tutorial was created by George Laurer, the creator of the U.P.C. Barcode Symbol.

 

How the U.P.C. is Constructed

Used with permission. This Tutorial was created by George Laurer, the creator of the U.P.C. Barcode Symbol. Copyright ID History Museum 2007-2012 http://www.idhistory.com

Understanding the construction of the U.P.C. symbol starts with an understanding of the character sets used by the U.P.C. In order to encode the ten decimal digits in bars, a character structure consisting of seven modules of equal width is used for each character. Each charter must start with a white space and end with a black bar. Also each character must have two white spaces and two black spaces or bars. Figure #1 depicts a typical character.

There are twenty bar space patterns that satisfy the rules stated. Using the notation that a “0” represents a white module and a “1” represents black module, the twenty patterns are listed below along with the arbitrary digit assignments used in the U.P.C. code.

 

Odd Parity Patterns
Decimal Value
Even Parity Patterns
0001101
0
0100111
0011001
1
0110011
0010011
2
0011011
0111101
3
0100001
0100011
4
0011101
0110001
5
0111001
0101111
6
0000101
0111011
7
0010001
0110111
8
0001001
0001011
9
0010111
0101
Center pattern
Margin101
Guard bar pattern
010101
Version E end pattern
The left column patterns all have an odd number of black modules and is called the odd parity character set while the right column patterns all have an even number of black modules and are called the even parity character set. There are three more patterns used in the construction of a U.P.C. symbol. They are the center pattern which is only four modules wide, the guard bar pattern which is 3 modules wide but with the white margin of greater than four modules appears to the readers as a pattern which is greater than seven modules, and the end pattern for      Version E which is the same as the center pattern with one extra space and bar to facilitate amplifier gain adjustments.
The U.P.C. symbol is composed of two symmetrical halves allowing the symbol to be smaller. The two halves are distinguished by the scanner based on the parity pattern of the six characters. Six characters encoded with odd parity patterns is the left half of a Version A symbol and the country flag is “0”. Six characters encoded with even parity patterns is the right half of a Version A symbol. This is actually another level of parity which improves the integrity of the symbol. Any bar or space that is misread, i.e. read as one module larger or smaller than it actually is, will result in the scanner rejecting the scan since it is neither a right or left half of a symbol. Version E has three of the six characters encoded with odd parity patterns and three with the even parity patterns as does the left half of EAN-13.
The “Guard bar pattern” closes the open left end of the first character and often used to determine the start of a half symbol. The first bar is also helpful in setting the amplifier gain. The “Center pattern” defines the end of a half symbol and the direction in which it was scanned, i.e. guard bar to center or center to guard bar.
 
In order to save space the right half of the symbol is rotated 180 degrees and one center pattern used for both halves.

Barcodes as Art

Universal Product Code Art - Unique and Original UPC Barcode Art.Who says that a UPC barcode needs to be boring? It’s not framable art by any means, but meant to bring a smile to the consumer’s face when they pick that item off the shelf as they head to the checkstand.

Phil Peretz, President of Nationwide Barcode and CEO/Founder of Media Media, Inc has combined the product offerings of the two companies and has created a unique product for clients..

Peretz says “The barcode has historically been a mundane ubiquitous image that tends to detract from packaging whether it is a greeting card, a CD jewelcase or a bottle of soda. Our goal is to take the barcode and give it a unique identity of it’s own while maintaining its ability to be easily scanned at the checkout counter.”

Available through either Media Media, Inc. or Nationwide Barcode, Peretz and his team take the barcode number, create the graphic while constantly printing and scanning the barcode to insure that this newly created art piece will work for the client and the retailer. Although barcode art looks simple enough, it’s a complex process that is done to exacting standards to ensure that it looks fun but maintains the intended usefulness.

http://www.nationwidebarcode.com 

Boat 1 Butterfly 1 Butterfly 2
UPC-A Barcode Art Boat UPC-A Barcode Art Butterfly UPC Barcode Art Butterfly
Construction 1 Construction 2 Construction 3
Universal Product Code Art - Construction Universal Product Code Art - Painter Universal Product Code Art - Painter on Ladder
Construction 4 Construction 5 Construction 6
UPC Barcode Art Forklift Universal Product Code Art - Construction UPC Barcode Art Lift
Daisy 1 Daisy 2 Dancing 1
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Flowers Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Daisy Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Couple Dancing
Decorative 1 Dolphin 1 Flower 1
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Deco Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Dolphin Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Flower
Food 1 Food 2 Food 3
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Dinner Table Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Cupcake Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Coffee
Food 4 Horse 1 Island 1
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Teapot Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Horse Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Islands
Kilroy 1 Key 1 Music 1
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Kilroy Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Key Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Notes
People 1 Shark 1 Snake Charmer 1
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode People Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Shark Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Snake Charmer
Surfer Woman 1 Woman 2
Universal Product Code Art - UPC Barcode Surfer UPC Barcode Art - Women UPC Barcode Art - Glamour
Woman3
UPC Barcode Art - Woman

 

The Check Digit

The last digit of a UPC or EAN barcode is called a check digit.
This number lets the scanner (and the computer attached to it) know if the number was scanned properly or not.   It is a very important part of the barcode.

The first 11 digits of a UPC barcode or the first 12 digit of an EAN barcode are a combination of the prefix and the numbers assigned to a particular product. The final check digit is a mathematical algorithm weaving through the first 11-digits 

The number at the far right is the check digit. In this case, it’s a 7. If you want to compute the check digit for a UPC-A Barcode in Excel, do the following: 

Positions

UPC EAN Multiply by equals
N1

0

1

0

N2

7

7

3

21

N3

5

5

1

5

N4

3

3

3

9

N5

1

1

1

1

N6

8

8

3

24

N7

2

2

1

2

N8

9

9

3

27

N9

5

5

1

5

N10

3

3

3

9

N11

4

4

1

4

N12

2

2

3

6

SUM

113

Subtract the sum from the nearest equal or higher multiple of 10. (90 would be 90, 92 would be 100, etc.)
In this example the next highest multiple of 10 is 120.

120-113 = 7: 7 is the check digit.

The number in C1 is the check digit, the number in cell D1 is the complete barcode number with check digit. 

There is no hidden data built into a barcode, there is no pricing information, there is no product information. The bars represent only the 12-digit number.

The way that it works is:

  • The manufacture affixes the barcode to the product.
  • The retailer inputs information about the product into their back-end computer that controls and communicates to all of the store’s Point of Sales systems (cash register).
  • The customer brings up their purchase to the front counter, the item is scanned and the POS system communicates to the back-end system pulling the information about the product.
  • The info is printed on the sales receipt, the price is charged and then, the items are deducted from the store’s inventory.

Leading Digits – UPC A

The first digit of a UPC-A is the manufacturer’s identification number. It is called the number system character. The following table shows you what different number system characters mean

0: Standard UPC number

1: Reserved
2: Random weight items (fruits, meat, vegetables, etc.
3: Pharmaceuticals
4: In store marketing for retailers (a store can set up unique barcodes for themselves, but no other store will be able to read them)

5: Coupons
6, 7 Standard UPC number
8: Reserved
9: Reserved

Anatomy of a Bar Code

The barcode symbol has two parts:
1) The machine-readable bar code (The bars)

2) The human-readable number   (the numbers below)

In this picture, the manufacturer identification number is the first six digits of the UPC number – (0)753182 in the image above. The next five digits — 95342 — are the item number.  The GS1 supplies 7, 8 and 9 digit manufacturer numbers as well.  The last number, 7, is the check digit.

The person that coordinates which barcode goes with which product is called a UPC coordinator. This person is responsible for assigning item numbers to products, making sure the same code is not used on more than one product, retiring codes as products are removed from the product line, etc. 

Typically, every item that a manufacturer sells, in addition to every variation of the item requires a different item code. Since the barcode is also used to track inventory, it is important to have a different barcode for each of these variations. Using shoes as an example, a man’s oxford shoe may come in Black, Brown, and Cordovan, each in sizes, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. Each of these variations (3 colors x 6 sizes = 18 different products)

Register Your Barcode

After you buy a barcode, the next steps are pretty simple. First, there are no formal comprehensive regional or world-wide database. Sites like www.upcdatainfo.com and www.upcdatabase.com are hobbyist sites that are really well done but contain a small fraction of barcodes and products.

The true registration process is less formal than what people anticipate and is strictly between you and your retailers. When people purchase EAN or UPC barcodes from us, we provide a transfer of ownership (and certificate of authenticity) for the single or block of barcodes. We also send along an excel spreadsheet containing all of the numbers to make it easier to track which barcode goes with each of your products.

Then, as you are about to launch a new product and sell it into stores, you assign one of the barcode numbers to the product and then convey the information about that product to your retailer. If you are selling products that have variations (size, design, style, quantity, etc.), you will need to assign a different barcode number to each one of these items.

The retailer then inputs this into their inventory management system which is tied to their electronic point of sale systems.

The way it works is:
1. You tell the retailer about the product that is going into their store (description, price, barcode number)

2. The retailer enters the information into their database along with the starting inventory and usually the quantity where they plan on reordering your item(s).

3. Then, they sell the item…customer picks up the item in the store, takes it to the check stand, the item is scanned and the ‘cash register’ sends a query to the database. The database sends the item and pricing information to the ‘cash register’. At the same time the ‘cash register’ tells the database to remove the items purchased from inventory

Every retailer from your local hardware store to Amazon has their own ‘closed’ system. Every retailer has their own system based on the inventory management and accounting systems that they use.

Between UPC numbers (US and Canada) and EAN numbers (Europe, Australia, South America, Africa), there is the potential to have 100 Billion different numbers that can be used for barcodes. (Not every series is used and some of the number series are reserved for internal use of coupons, but it’s still a massive number) Nobody wants to manage a database this large, so, everyone manages their own system that is relevant to their inventory.

There are some interlinking systems. Google Merchant, Amazon and a couple others that help populate smart-phone UPC/EAN barcode readers like Red Laser, Shop Savvy, etc.