UPC Barcodes Explained

2 min

UPC stands for Universal Product Code and is a format of identification code printed on products. There are two components to UPC- a barcode and a 12 digit identification number. The main objective of universal product codes are easy identification of product details such as brand name, size, color, ingredients, and other specifications.

UPC is used in a lot of processes such as in industries for tracking of assets and inventories and in retail stores for easy check-in and check-out of products. UPCs are universal codes and work the same way irrespective of application or brand. UPC standards are assigned and managed by a single body in the United States known as the Global Standard Organization or GS1 US.

Breaking down the Universal Product Codes

Companies who wish to use UPC need to apply to the GS1 US organization in order to become part of the system. There is a fee involved after which GS1 assigns a 6 digit unique ID number to the manufacturer which forms a part of the 12 digit code printed as UPC. This unique six-digit number is used to denote the manufacturer.

The next 5 digits that follow after the manufacturer code is known as item number and refers to the description of the product. Every company has executives that assign such product codes to each and every item manufactured by the company. This executive is responsible for managing all the product codes assigned and for ensuring that the old codes are phased out. This code has several variations that determine product specifications such as size, color, flavor, ingredients, and quantity among others. The final digit in the sequence is known as the check digit. It is arrived at after performing various kinds of arithmetic operations on the rest of the numerals of the sequence. This number proves the validity of the sequence and prevents the emergence of fraudulent systems. If the check-out digit is incorrect, then the item doesn’t scan.

Advantages of using UPC

There are numerous advantages of using UPC. It is a simple and easy to implement system that is both effective and cost-friendly. The simple underlying concept has widespread application across multiple industries. Traditional methods of asset and inventory tracking involved manually entering data regarding each and every product. The processes of checking in and out were extremely time and labor intensive. With the emergence UPCs, this process has become extremely streamlined and simple. UPCs allow companies to implement automated processes for tracking inventory and check-in / check-out. Entire warehouses can be efficiently managed using UPC barcodes.

There are several versions of UPC code that are used today. There are standards present for every company. UPCs lead to greater productivity and cost reduction. By automating such tasks, there is no room for human error. This also leads to better customer satisfaction. The UPC systems are universal all across the United States. This means that by simply scanning the barcode of any product in the country the consumer can get information about it.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Product_Code


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