Barcodes – more than just numbers…


For most shoppers, barcodes are just numbers that relate to information on shopping receipts.<!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_7021" align="alignleft" width="138"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7021" alt="Subhash Sehgal of Pacific Paints and GS1's Swapnil Kuwalekar at the PT&amp;I office in Auckland last week." src="" width="138" height="104" /></a> Subhash Sehgal of Pacific Paints and GS1's Swapnil Kuwalekar at the PT&amp;I office in Auckland last week.[/caption]

For manufacturers such as Pacific Paints based in Tonga introducing electronic barcodes puts them ahead on the digital highway of the future.

Chief Executive Subhash Sehgal has been a paint manufacturer in Tonga for 25 years.  His company produces about 200,000 litres of paint annually supplying to industrial, commercial and household customers in Tonga and Samoa.  Mr Sehgal is keen to implement an electronic method of identifying products using the GS1 barcode system.  It uses barcodes and radio frequency identification to identify and link them into internationally accepted standards developed by GS1.

More than 1 million companies are using the system worldwide.  Countries such as Australia and New Zealand already require manufacturers to use GS1 barcodes.

Embedded in the barcodes are a significant amount of data including how the product was made, when, where, right down to the elements in the paint.

Pacific Paints is the first company in Tonga to start implanting a bar coding and identifier system under GS1. The company is in the process of switching from manual recording to electronic barcoding. This allows them to track stock inventory and trace each finished paint batch.

If anything goes wrong with one of the batches, the batch can be identified via its own unique number and retracted from a consignment rather than recalling the entire order, says Mr Sehgal. It increases efficiency, effectiveness and reduces costs. Traceability gives customers confidence that they’re buying a good product he says.

The project is a continuing close working partnership between Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (PT&amp;I) New Zealand, Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour (Tonga) and GS1 New Zealand to better meet the needs of the market by improving traceability and supply chain systems.

GS1 is a not-for-profit organisation with membership in 108 countries. GS1 distinguishes itself by authorising only one GS1 member in each country to administer the system. This guarantees the GS1 barcodes are unique, official, authentic, and meet correct international standards.

Swapnil Kuwalekar, the Auckland Territory Manger of GS1 New Zealand, describes barcodes as the DNA of the supply chain.

Demonstrating on an app on his mobile phone, he shows how consumers can easily access product information quickly via mobile phone apps or tablet. But beneath that is the data captured in the barcode – the product DNA. The in-depth information means that product can be tracked and traced back along the supply chain for quality assurance.

Mr. Sehgal believes Pacific Island companies would do well in stepping up and adopting the technology. Clearly, Pacific Paints are well ahead of the traffic on the digital highway to the future.

For more information, please email:  Joe Fuavao, PT&amp;I Trade Development Manager at <a href=""></a>

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