5.2 Expressing data using GS1 Application Identifiers
GS1 Application Identifiers enable a set of attribute:value pairs of data to be encoded in a data carrier. Each attribute within a pair is a GS1 Application Identifier (AI) expressed as a numeric string, e.g., ‘00’ is the AI corresponding to the SSCC, ‘420’ is the AI for the ship-to / deliver-to postal code. The value is the corresponding value for each GS1 Application Identifier. For example, ‘106141412345678908’ is an example value for the SSCC where the attribute / AI is ‘00’.
In GS1 barcodes such as GS1 DataMatrix and GS1 QR Code, such attribute:value pairs are expressed as element strings that are concatenated according to rules defined in sections 7.8 and 7.8.5 of the GS1 General Specifications.
GS1 Digital Link URI is a “pilot-level” syntax (not implemented widely to date) that was tested for encoding transport process information. As a forward-looking approach there was recognition that GS1 Digital Link URI syntax is expected to offer benefits (real time information) if broad adoption were to occur. This approach is not yet approved by GS1 as an open Application Standard nor subject to conformance. The results of the GS1 pilot study and details on GS1 Digital Link URI syntax will be available at https://www.gs1.org/industries/transport-and-logistics/scan4transport.
Figure 5-1 illustrates the element string notation used in GS1 data carriers such as GS1 DataMatrix and GS1 QR Code.
Figure 5‑1 Element string notation example
DataMatrix ECC 200 and QR Code are 2D symbologies not reserved exclusively for GS1 use.
GS1 has a specific encoding within DataMatrix and QR Code symbologies, which it uses exclusively for encoding element string syntax. GS1 refers to these data carriers as GS1 DataMatrix and GS1 QR Code. Symbology identifier ]d2 indicates GS1 DataMatrix, while symbology identifier ]Q3 indicates GS1 QR Code.
5.2.1 Application identifiers for transport processes
The tables below list the most commonly used Application Identifiers available to support this Implementation Guideline. For a full list of AIs, see https://www.gs1.org/standards/barcodes/application-identifiers
Table 5-1 General Application Identifiers recommended for logistic and transport process information
(1) The indicated GS1 Application Identifiers SHALL be separated by a separator character unless this element string is the last one to be encoded in the symbol.
- Note: The * in the table below indicates the Application Identifiers that may require non-Latin characters. To encode non-Latin characters within the alphanumeric value, use percent-encoding as defined in RFC 3986. A space character SHOULD be encoded as a single plus symbol, +.
Table 5-2 New GS1 Application Identifiers created for encoding transport process information
- Note: FNC1 is required as a field separator for all GS1 Application Identifiers beginning with 43 unless the element string is the last one to be encoded in the symbol.
5.3 Using transport data elements
To support an application and ensure data is available where and when it is needed, one must consider the different transport activities related to the first and last mile of a delivery, sortation, and administration related to transportation and logistics.
5.3.1 Transport Unit information
A transport unit will have sets of information related to the unit:
- Identification Keys for the Transport Unit; We distinguish two types of Transport Unit ID Keys:
- The GS1 SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) as a globally unique unambiguous ID Key.Any stakeholder creating transport units may assign an SSCC. The SSCC is guaranteed to be unique regardless of who assigned the SSCC.
- Carrier specific ID keys. Carriers currently often uses proprietary ID Keys that are unique within their own network. That enables them to handle the transport units throughout their own network using their own (sophisticated) IT systems. For example, the global postal networks use the so-called “S10” ID Key to identify postal transport units uniquely (the Universal Postal Union calls them postal items) across all postal operators participating in the UPU network.
- Physical characteristics of the Transport Unit. Information regarding dimensions (width, height and length), volume and weight.
- Service indicator. Transport service providers organise and sell their services along a number of different options (e.g., Air vs land transport, expedited vs deferred service, groupage versus parcel, tracked vs non-tracked). Operators handling the transport units may use the service indicator to determine the appropriate way to process the transport unit (both physically and in terms of information they need to capture for the unit).
- Carrier specific handling information. Many carriers require a so-called “routing code” to be included on the transport label. They may use this routing code as (additional) information to enable them to handle transport units in their own network efficiently and effectively.
Using this information an operator may confirm they are handling a transport unit they are supposed to handle as well as determine how/when to handle it (e.g., heavy or bulky transport units may need to be handled with certain equipment and/or first/last).
- Note: When the operator uses a device to scan the 2D barcode, which is then processed by an application installed on the device, this application may provide relevant instruction to the operator based on business rules configured in the application.
5.3.2 Address information
Information regarding addresses related to the Transport & Logistics services that are applicable for the transport unit are also needed.
Two different addresses are relevant and may be included in the barcode:
- The ship-to / deliver-to address; Identifies the location of the destination for the transport unit as precisely as possible.
- The return-to address; In case a transport unit cannot be delivered (or is refused), the transport unit may be returned to a location determined by the sender of the transport unit.
An address (be it ship-to or return-to) consist of several logical components. The representation of an address (based on these components) varies widely across different countries in the world.
The Universal Postal Union has done a lot of good work on analysis of and design for addresses, which they incorporated in global postal standards. This Implementation Guideline leverages the UPU standards.
Here are the components (data elements) that may make up an address for transportation purposes.
- Party name (Party may be a company or a consumer) E.g., Chris Foster
- Address lines. In Scan4Transport, we allow for up to two address line fields. E.g., 22 Quebec Street. Always use address line 1 first, and then address line 2 (if needed).
- Postal Code (e.g.,V5T 1G7)
- Country Code according to ISO 3166 Alpha-2 standard (e.g., CA “Canada”). Always include this data element.
- Region – e.g., British Columbia, Bavaria
- Locality – e.g., Vancouver, Munich
- Suburb – e.g., Mount Pleasant
- Contact information. This consists of the following data elements:
- Contact name; Information on whom to contact for further enquiries. E.g., “Chris Foster”;
- Contact Phone: E.g.,“+1 123 456 7890”.
- Note-1: There is a logical hierarchy across four of the above data elements for geographical areas that all stakeholders must consider to ensure all stakeholders will interpret these data elements consistently.
That is a pre-requisite to all operators handling the transport unit being able to handle it correctly. Data element “Country Code” covers the largest geographical area. The data element “Region” describes an area within the country specified in data element “Country Code”. The “Locality” represents a smaller area within the “Region”. The Suburb represent a smaller area within the Locality. Therefore, in order of decreasing geographical size we have “Country Code”, “Region”, “Locality” and “Suburb”. Figure below illustrates this hierarchy.
Figure 5-2Geographical hierarchy
- Note-2: Address formats vary widely from country, so do the minimum data-elements that need to be available to accurately deliver. Data elements available in many countries do not exist in others (e.g., postal codes). Many other data elements are ambiguous if used on their own. E.g., same street address may appear in a different locality, same locality may exist in different regions.
You will generally need combinations of data elements to ensure uniqueness.
1) In many geographies, users should represent the address by the following:
Country Code + Post Code + Street address line 1.
2) In the absence of Postal Codes, you probably need
Country Code + Region + Locality + Street address line 1 (maybe even also street address line 2).
5.3.3 Goods related information
The nature of the goods that are inside the transport unit may significantly affect how to handle the transport unit properly.
The following data elements are valuable to assist operators in determining if they should handle the transport unit at all and if so, how:
Dangerous Goods indicator.
Transporting Dangerous Goods is subject to legal requirements that can be highly detailed and prescriptive. In many cases, transport operators need specific licenses to handle specific types of dangerous goods. Most logistic service providers are not
allowed by law to handle dangerous goods (for lack of proper licenses).
The indicator in a 2D barcode would enable the operator to determine quickly whether he/she runs the risk of handling transport units that they are not allowed to handle.
Service code description.
The type of service or handling expected for the transport unit is described in this text field of the barcode. The description is determined by the shipping company.
5.3.4 Delivery Instructions
A group of data elements that relate to the activities (business requirements) that the operator needs to consider when dropping off the transport unit at the final destination.
We distinguish the following data elements for delivery instructions:
- Signature Required.
This indicates to the operator that the operator must get a signature from the recipient for having delivered the transport unit to the intended destination.
This implies that delivery must be made to a person.
- Authority to leave.
This indicates to the operator that he/she may leave the transport unit at the destination location. Implies the operator does not need to hand the transport unit over to a person.
Also implies no signature from recipient is required.
However, this and the above instruction are independent business requirements.
For a specific transport unit we may specify “Signature Required” is no and we may also specify “Authority to leave” is no.
In that case, the operator must still hand over the transport unit to a person at the destination location (even though the person does not have to sign for receipt).
- Not after Delivery Date Time.
In transportation, it is a common business requirement to deliver before a set date. Additionally a latest time for the delivery may be specified.
- Not before Delivery Date Time.
In transportation, it is a common business requirement to not deliver before a set date. Additionally an earliest time for the delivery may be specified.
- Release date.
Sometimes transport service providers are required to “hold” transport units for a while before these transport units are allowed to be sent out to recipients.
E.g., when a new product is released and Customers have pre-ordered, the seller may have promised Customers that orders will be shipped from a specific date onwards.
The seller may in fact already have pre-positioned those Customer Orders (shipments) in several “holding” location in the Delivery networks to ensure speedy delivery to those Customers that have pre-ordered.
They will then specify to the LSP responsible for those locations that those Orders/Shipments may not be despatched from those holding locations until the date they communicated to the market.
In this Implementation Guideline, we refer to such a date as the release date.
5.3.5 Transaction Information
Transportation is always executed as a result of one or several transactions among stakeholders.
To be able to link the transport execution back to the relevant transactions, we need to be able to include Identification Keys for the transport units that comprise those transactions.
There are two identifiers that are relevant:
- Shipment Identification.Shipment refers to the transport units that fulfil the trade transaction between the buyer and seller. All the transport units that comprise a particular shipment are assigned the same GSIN (Global Shipment Identification Number), and this GSIN remains the same regardless of the different consignments that these transport units may also comprise.
- The GSIN is assigned by the seller.
- Consignment Identification. Consignment refers to the physical transport of the transport units by a logistics service provider by one transport movement. Each of the transport units that comprise a consignment is assigned the same GINC (Global Identification Number for Consignment). Each different logistics service transaction will require a different GINC.
- The GINC is assigned by the logistics service provider.
- Note: These identifiers are used by any of the parties to access extra information from their IT systems, and to provide information about the transport process.
5.3.6 Overview of main delivery scenarios
In various places in this Implementation Guideline, we have indicated that the transport & logistics (T&L) network used for the end-to-end journey of shipments from seller to buyer may take quite different forms.
The configuration of the T&L network affects the way the transport unit labels (and 2D barcodes on them) may be used at the different stages in these T&L networks.
So let us look at the most common T&L network configurations and their main characteristics:
- An integrated network under the total control of a single Logistic Service Provider and little or no outsourcing to subcontracted logistic service providers.
Some Courier, Express and Parcel carriers claim to operate networks of this kind.
In fact, they do run parts of their networks like that in a number of geographies (but they do not in every geography they operate in).
All administrative processes (including financial settlement) for the shipments are handled between the single LSP and the Logistic Services Client (LSC).
- A network operated under the direction of a lead Logistic Service Provider.
This kind of network is virtually integrated. The lead Logistics Service Provider (LLP) subcontracts significant parts of the network to other logistic services providers.
The LLP takes responsibility towards his Logistics Services Client (LSC) to manage the transportation end-to-end and provide information on progress of transport execution across the entire virtual network for the shipments of the LSC.
All administrative processes (including financial settlement) for the shipments are handled between the LLP and the LSC.
The LLP takes care of all administrative processes related to the subcontracted logistic services (consignments) with the subcontracted LSPs.
A good example is the global Postal network.
The LSC hands the transport unit over to the Postal operator in the origin country. This origin postal operator arranges transportation to the destination country. This operator also “books” the delivery transport movement with the Postal Operator in the destination country.
The LSC interacts with the postal operator at origin only: booking, paying, tracking end-to-end is all between the two of them.
- A network operated under the direction of the seller (sender of the goods)
In this type of network, the seller takes care of all interactions with the Logistic Service Providers (LSP) handling the transport units over the lifecycle of the transport units.
The Sender selects which LSP to use for each transport movement required to transport the goods efficiently and effectively from seller to buyer.
The seller books the transport movements (consignments) with the selected LSP.
The LSP will execute the transportation. The seller needs to receive the relevant information on progress of the transport execution.
The seller will also take care of all the administrative processes (including financial settlement) with the LSP for services rendered,
It will be clear that the business requirements for the transport unit labels (and thus for the 2D barcodes on those labels) will be quite different in each of those types of networks.
5.3.7 Mapping to GS1 identification keys
It is important that we properly understand the main concepts that we use ID Keys for such as shipment, consignment and transport unit.
The figure below illustrates the concepts of shipment and consignment (as defined by UN/CEFACT, UBL, GS1 and others) and how each of these are identified using the GS1 standards.
Figure 5-3 Consolidated fulfilment – shipment vs consignment
The figure shows transport units are assigned both GSINs and GINCs. There are two trade transactions, one between seller A and buyer A, and the other between seller B and buyer B. All the transport units that comprise each trade transaction are identified as GSIN A or GSIN B.
Those two trade transactions (shipments) result in five transport movements (consignments), each one arranged by a logistics service provider. As the transport units move from one consignment to another, they are assigned a new GINC. As each transport unit travels through the supply chain, it is identified with its own SSCC, and with its relevant GSIN and GINC.
The transport units that fulfil each trade transaction (the shipment) are identified by the same GSIN.
The transport units that comprise each consignment are identified with the same GINC.
The figure also shows various kinds of packaging used to transport the goods in the five consignments, e.g., pallets and different sizes of boxes.
Within the context of this Implementation Guideline, we will use the term “Transport Unit” (which is in line with ISO/IEC 15459-1) to refer to an item of any composition established for transport, which needs to be managed through the supply chain. Transport units take many forms, a single box/parcel containing a limited number of products (in e‑commerce often just one), a pallet of multiple products, or an intermodal container containing multiple pallets.
The GS1 ID Key for a transport unit is the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC).
Transport units must be labelled to enable handling them efficiently and effectively.
As indicated in the Vision section above, once a transport unit has been labelled, all stakeholders handling the transport unit should use that label over the life of the transport unit.
The figure below shows a sample label with a linear GS1-128 barcode and a 2D barcode (compliant with this Implementation Guideline).
For this label, take note of several points:
- At the bottom of the label, there is the GS1-128 barcode (linear barcode) that contains the SSCC, which unambiguously identifies the unit over its entire lifetime.
- The middle of the label contains a GS1 2D barcode, which also contains the SSCC. This is valuable because scanning the 2D barcode can capture all relevant data elements in a single scan.
- Not all stakeholders may be able to scan and use 2D barcodes. Providing a linear barcode with the SSCC ensures the transport unit may be handled effectively and efficiently.
- Note: The sample label shown here was taken from the GS1 Logistics Label Guideline (Release 1.3). Please always refer to the current GS1 Logistic Label guideline when designing and programming the creation of labels attached to transport units.