NECS attends the GS1 Connect 2016 Conference, Washington D.C.

Jun 15 2016

Get Ready to Unlock the Power of Standards

If you are interested in having your entrée software include more product information, then read on!  And based by the frequency of calls and discussions about this with customers over the last few years, I can tell this is a factor that many of you are starting to grasp the importance of for the future of your foodservice business.

GS1 Data to be Imported into your entrée software:
  • Official item images from the manufacturer
  • Official brand logo
  • Allergens
  • Nutritional Info
  • Ingredients
  • Pallet configurations, case dimensions, weights
  • Official item descriptions (long and short), class, pack size, manufacturers product code
  • Kosher, gluten free, wheat, sulphites, soy, etc.
  • Shelf life
  • Storage temperature
  • Expanded "benefits" description more fully explaining the item
  • and literally hundreds of other details about the item

And it doesn't end with the above bullet points about each item.  

Additional GS1 Benefits:
  • Food traceability, for example in produce, tracks the food from all the way from the field to the distributor to the store, and knows that the product that arrives is fresh.
  • If you manufacture or process, then you'll need a GTIN assigned to your manufactured items, proper barcode labels, a GLN (Global Location Number) to indicate the location of the manufacturer, etc.
  • You will no longer need to scan all the items on a pallet (especially regarding catch weights, lots, etc.) as you will receive an ASN (Advanced Shipping Notification) data file. Just scan the pallet label and all details about the pallet contents are provided. Note that Tyson Foods was an early adapter of this technology and can provide you with the ASN data file when you purchase from them.
  • Setup new items in your entrée software from the GS1 data. This would be a great feature for both new customers and also those of you that are expanding your product line. For example, indicate the Brand, and you can import all those items into your system automatically with all the correct information.
  • And many other features to make your operation more efficient than you ever thought possible.

All of the above information could soon be available in not only your main entrée V4 system, but also in  entrée.NET for your customers and the Electronic Order Pad for your DSRs.

The GS1 Conference / GS = Global Standards

Last week I traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the GS1 Connect 2016 conference.  This was a necessary trip as the GS1 standards for foodservice are starting to become increasingly important.  

I wanted to have the latest information to learn about how these Global Standards will shape the future of the foodservice industry, affect your entrée software, and your ability to compete and thrive into the future. Note that the GS1 organization works with other industries such as healthcare, apparel, and retail. More information can be found at:   

I would also recommend watching this short video for an explanation of what this is all about.

GS1 is an organization that regulates the way that product data and information is stored and transferred. Previously, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers would use their own legacy systems to identify an item. In essence, the same item would have different item numbers defined for the hundreds or thousands of businesses that sold it. This is where the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) comes into play.

And many of you know that the GTIN is now the second field in your Inventory File Maintenance screen.  It is a 14 character field and is the official item number for the product.  Also each unit in the CASE also has it's own GTIN.  Note that the CASE is known as the "parent" and units within the CASE are known as the "child".  In the near future, you will be required to show only the GTIN on any information customers, vendors, etc. would receive.  You will be required to no longer show your existing legacy item number, as it will be meaningless and in violation of food traceability standards.

You might be wondering the best way to obtain the GTIN for each of your items.  Currently there are a few methods:

• If you use our Electronic Warehouse Manager app, whenever you scan a GS1-128 barcode (which contains the GTIN), entrée  will check your Inventory File.  If the GTIN is not defined, it will be automatically added to the GTIN field for you.

• If you do business with Dot Foods and use our entrée.DOT (Dot Foods interface), you will automatically receive all the GTIN's for the items you purchase.  Below is an example of the Dot Foods Item Catalog that is built into entrée.  The GTIN is highlighted in red.

• If you do business with a buying group such as UniPro, when you submit your Inventory data using their online matching tool, the GTIN's will be automatically assigned.  Below is a screen shot of UniPro's Catalog Matching Tool, which we plan to fully support for our UniPro members:

• Contact the manufacturer and obtain a list of their items with the GTIN's and manually enter into your Inventory File.

The first day of the GS1 Conference

Wednesday morning began with a "GS1 University" course that introduced the Global Data Synchronization Network, or the GDSN.  This network allows for the electronic exchange of product information between all parties- buyers, sellers, and consumers. GS1 certified manufacturers and sellers can register their products to obtain a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and a GLN (Global Location Number) which indicates where the item is produced.  Also each location in the supply chain will a GLN assigned for traceability, including your warehouse.

These attributes vary depending on the type of product, but in the food industry, some of the most important attributes are allergens, ingredients, measurements and quantities, nutritional information, images, and shelf life.  NECS is committed to being one of the first ERP software companies to be "GS1 certified" so that you have all this information integrated into your entrée system.

After the seminar, I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the different booths and talking with the exhibitors in the exhibit hall.

Meeting with UniPro Foodservice Buying Group

On Thursday I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet with Dave Devlin from the UniPro Foodservice Buying Group.  UniPro is a buying group that we share about 30 customers with.  They provide an inexpensive option for their customers to tap into one of the GS1 Data Pools to obtain GS1 product information.  

This meeting was setup by Julie McGill, the Foodservice Sr. Director at the GS1 US organization.  Julie has been of great assistance in helping me through the process of understanding the GS1 initiative, data pools and the key elements I need to know integrate key features into our entrée software. 

Dave Devlin is the Departmental Vice President of  Global Data Standards at UniPro.  We are both forward thinking and are interested in getting our mutual customers to have access to all of the GS1 data.

Pictured above (from left to right) is myself, Julie McGill and Dave Devlin as we discuss GS1 details for UniPro members.

This was a highly productive meeting and we identified some key customers that we will use to integrate the GS1 data into entrée.  I would expect that you will hear more about this in the upcoming months.

You Must Incorporate GS1 Data... Or You Will Fail

Yes, those are strong words.  But just as so many of your customers and vendors insist on you providing EDI data in order to do business with them, it is soon going to be the same way with GS1 data.  Especially as these standards will be the only way to comply with the FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) for food traceability.  

This was stressed later in the afternoon in a class about "Maximizing Benefits From Transition to a GS1-128 World".  This was a panel discussion by early adapters of GS1 standards.  The three speakers on the panel stressed the importance of integrating to the GS1 standards as soon as possible. The transition is inevitable, and is a linear process- once we move forward, we will never digress to our old system. 

One of the speakers was Paul Lothian of Tyson Foods.  Since Tyson Foods was an early adapter of GS1 standards,  Paul spoke about all the cost saving efficiencies that these standards provided.  Currently if you purchase from Tyson, you will have access to the ASN (Advanced Shipping Notice) data (via the GDSN) which is a file that contains the information about every item on every pallet on your order.  If you have access to the GDSN (Global Data Synchronization Network), just scan the pallet label and all the details of what is on that pallet will be known, without the need to scan each case.  If you've read this far I really hope you can grasp how much time this will save when receiving products along with the accuracy of exactly what was received. 

Many people are hesitant to change, but this is more of a transformation than a change.  All of the information is the same, we are simply transforming the way we present and communicate it.  Daniel Burrus, GS1’s “Futurist and Advisor” compared this to the way we listen to music. Music used to be played on records before transitioning to CDs, and then MP3 files.  These changes did not actually change the content of the music, or its purpose.  The only change is the mobility and accessibility of the content.


Meeting with 1WorldSync - a Data Pool of GS1 information

The talk by Daniel Burrus was very inspirational and put us in a great mood for our meeting with Ryan Robichaud and Randy Mercer from 1WorldSync.  1WorldSync is one of the 32 Data Pools that meet GS1 standards. In order for NECS to have access to the GS1 data, we would have to be a member of a data pool. 

And yes, it costs money to access all this valuable information.  In fact in can get quite expensive.  I was interested in talking with Ryan and Randy about how we could pursue a partnership and bring the cost to our NECS entrée users dramatically down. The bottom line is that we are working on a special pricing arrangement for NECS customers.  As this develops, I will be sure and communicate the details.


GS1 Pallet License Plates - SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code)

Friday was the final day of the conference and I attended a final GS1 University course that afternoon before flying back to Connecticut. The workshop was "Fundamentals of GS1-128 Highlighting the SSCC".  GS1-128 is a specific barcode style that contains "Application Identifiers" such as the GTIN, batch/lot number, expiration date, SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code), etc.

The SSCC is important because it is the official GS1 barcode format for Pallet License Plates.  This is important because the second generation of our Electronic Warehouse Manager (which we are working on now), will adhere to these standards when you generate your own Pallet License Plates.

The proper placement of the SSCC label was discussed.  Each pallet must have two SSCC labels attached as follows:

Also the breakdown of the SSCC Pallet Label was discussed:

The format of the GS1-128 barcode was also covered in great detail.  The image below is an example of a GS1-128 barcode.  The numbers in parenthesis are the Application Identifiers- codes that indicate the type of data being presented.  Over 140 types of AIs exist, each with a unique numeric code.  Anytime you see a barcode that has numbers in parenthesis, this is an indicator you are looking at a GS1 barcode.  The code (01) in the example below indicates that the following digits are the item’s GTIN.  

The code (17) indicates the Expiration Date (YYMMDD) and the code (10) indicates the Lot Number.  

For a complete list of GS1-128 Barcode Identfiers, please click here.

This seminar also taught us how to properly format and apply GS1-128 barcodes to prevent any possible scanning issues. One very important item was to never print your own barcodes out in red ink.  Barcode scanners can't see red, so they will never read.

Our classes ended in the afternoon and I wound up taking a late flight home.  I am excited to continue learning how Global Standards will transform the food industry!

Late breaking GS1 News!

Dot Foods:  It was announced at the GS1 Conference that Dot Foods will now only receive items that have their GTIN assigned in a GS1-128 readable barcode label along with a lot/batch number.  Manufacturers that have not yet had GTINs assigned to their items and/or  are not printing the proper labels, will be rejected.

Subway Restaurants:  It was announced that all Subway locations have now been assigned GLNs (Global Location Number).  Now when items are scanned for delivery by the driver, the GDSN network will know exactly which store received what products from what lot, etc.  So when product recalls are issued, only those stores that have received that recalled inventory will be notified.  The benefits that Subway Restaurants are obtaining from this include:

• Improving visibility into product movement
• Providing operational efficiencies in receiving, inventory management, picking, and shipping processes
• Reducing error in mispicks and shorts
• Optimizing delivery logistics
• Reducing order and billing errors
• Speeding up new product introduction through the exchange of accurate product information
• Enabling better product and location identification throughout track and trace processes

Improving preparedness for fast and precise recalls:
• Locate product by Lot Code/Date to the restaurant level
• Fewer disruptions across the supply chain and at the restaurants
• Proactively meeting regulatory compliance

For a complete 17 page explanation (from last years GS1 Conference) of why Subway Restaurants have gone all in with GS1 data, please click here.

Subway Restaurants are one of the first chains to fully utilize GS1 data.  Expect others to follow very quickly.

An Infographic Showing the GS1 progress in Foodservice so far:

In Conclusion...

It became very obvious that we need to become a certified "GS1 Partner and Solution Provider."  This involves multiple programmers here at NECS taking intensive GS1 training courses and being tested.  It is a process that I hope to have completed by the spring of 2017.

Having our software certified by GS1 will mean so much to distributors looking for new software because their existing ERP solution does not provide for GS1 compatibility.  So just as you have to ensure you are GS1 compliant or the future of your business is in jeopardy, the same is true for us.

I've been traveling a lot over the past few months and am glad to be back for the summer.  Trade shows start up again in September, so I expect to be on the road again in a few months.  

Back at our beautiful new office in Branford, CT, we are preparing for our next in house training session at the end of this month.  I encourage you all to join us! For more information, or to register click here