2DBarcodes | A New Dimension in Traceability

Live Q&A

Q: Are small retailers able to scan 2D barcodes? Is it now standard technology in retail?  
A: GS1 has commenced a global 2D barcode in Retail program which aims to enable all retailers to be able to scan 2D barcodes at point-of-sale by 2027. We are working with key retailers and industry associations like the Australian Retailers Association to engage as many retailers as possible. For further information please visit our 2D webpage.

Q: What is the cost to use these compared to the regular GS1 subscription? 
A: There is no difference at all.  Any GS1 member that is using 1D barcodes today can migrate to 2D without any impact to GS1 license fees. 

Q: Inline coding is dominated by CIJ printers. With the ‘denser’ 2D codes becoming more prevalent on primary packaging, what does this mean for CIJ owners in high-speed packaging lines? 
A: We are currently working with solution providers regarding printing technology options to include key learnings around speed, packaging substrates etc.  

Q: Where is the National Database behind 2D barcode and how it is maintained? 
A: There is currently no national database.  Government and individual industry participants are looking at data management as the use matures in Australia.  

Q: Should the multiple ingredient product suppliers into a manufactured goods - also have use Data Matrix barcodes to enable supply-chain provenance? 
A: We have seen an implementation of this, and yes upstream suppliers need to communicate their traceability data into the manufacturing facility.   This could be 1D or 2D barcodes.   Manufacturers need to consider the opportunity to capture and process this data.  We have a 2D barcode advisory group that addresses these questions and shares learnings. 

Q: Will the 2D barcode be usable down to unit of use in the pharmaceutical industry i.e., each ampoule/vial/capsule etc for patient safety?  
A: There are some products already where there are 2D barcodes down to unit level for medicines, but as we have yet to complete implementation at pack level this is something that will take some more time to be seen across all products. The starting point where this has been implemented as been GTIN only at unit level.  

Q: Information that is provided in using a 2DBarcode, can this be customised for each business allowing us to input information that is relevant to our business? As we do not have any products that have an expiry date. 
A: Yes, you can.  Provided you use GS1 Application Identifiers specified in GS1 standards to encode additional data on 2D Barcodes for your product, anyone in the supply chain can scan and decode but if they don’t need the data that you have encoded their systems will simply ignore the data.

Q: Does the TGA have any plans for standardisation and implementation of 2D traceability for medical devices (sterile and non-sterile)? 
A: There is work currently underway by the TGA to implement a Unique Device Identification (UDI) system. This will in part deliver the foundations for traceability of medical devices. You can find more information in this process here

Q: Is the requirement that the pharmacist must scan at the point of dispensing/sale to determine if it is a genuine product, or could this process be completed upon goods receipt? 
A: There is a current requirement in Australia for prescribed medicines to be scanned at the point of dispense. This is a safety mechanism to ensure the correct product has been dispensed for a patient/consumer. 

Q: At what point do we expect a national database in Australia and implementation of serialisation locally for Pharmaceuticals? 
A: These issues are being considered as part of the development of a National Medicines Traceability Framework.  No timing or model has been decided upon yet. 

Q: At what point do you see that 2D will override 1D? 
A: 1D linear barcodes will be around for at least as long as it takes for the installed base of 2D scanners to reach critical mass globally. Furthermore, if there is no need to add additional machine-readable data (such as batch/lot number or expiry date) to a product package, changing to a 2DBarcode is not needed. But all manufacturers and brands need to include, at a minimum, the Global Trade Item Number in every barcode on pack that is intended for scanning by consumers OR retail POS.  The GS1 2D Global Programme has set an "Ambition Date" of 2027.   This industry-defined goal is to enable the use of 2D barcodes, in addition to existing 1D barcodes, at retail point-of-sales across the globe by the end of 2027. 

Q: How far progressed are the various pharmacy POS/dispensing vendors (e.g., hospital dispensing software etc.) in linking to the National Database.  
A: The issue in Australia is more around visibility of supply chain, supply chain resilience and shortages.  These issues all became key in the last couple of years.  The National Medicines Traceability Framework is still in development.  No decisions on timing for establishment of infrastructure such as a national database have been made yet.   

Q: Do you think lessons from serialisation in pharmaceuticals can easily translate to food traceability?
A: Serialisation may not be an immediate for foods (it will depend on use cases) however use of 2D codes is already well underway.  Woolworths scans more than 1M 2D barcodes - checking best before and managing markdowns or stop sale.  This is a significant and world leading use case.  There are enormous benefits not limited to reduced waste, reduction of food borne illness and broader public health benefits - not to mention consumers getting better and fresher produce. 

Q: Is there a way that 2DBarcodes could be used for products such as wine labels that are pre-produced and could be used over multiple bottling production batches? From the information provided it seems these are more useful for codes that are produced at the time of production/manufacturing. 
A: Wine vintages and batch/production unique identification and tracking is a hot topic that is currently being discussed in our liquor industry advisory group. We know that retailers and marketplaces like Amazon want to uniquely identify different vintages/year of production particularly for online orders.  

Q: How will 2D barcodes work with Automatic Dispensing Machines & Dispensary Robots, typically used in hospitals? 
A: ADC and robotic dispensing units in general are already 2D barcode capable as they have needed to meet these requirements in other markets globally. The most common systems in Australia support 2D barcodes 

Q: Appears that 2D barcodes will also provide a rich source of data. How is this data going to be managed, who will own the data & can aggregated, anonymised be a commercial opportunity for someone/group/entity? 
A: Brand owners ultimately determine what data to encode into 2D barcodes.  There are well defined standards for how this is done, and many solution providers are doing an excellent job of helping with this transition from 1D to 2D.  Regarding centralisation of data and issues re data ownership and access you might want to review the GS1 Digital Link standard.

Q: What about "Sunrise 2027"? 
A: GS1 is working towards an "ambition" date in the retail sector where by 2027 2D barcodes will be able to be scanned openly across the supply chain and by all retailers.  As we can see different sector are in different phases of their 2D journey, so the 2027 ambition date is mainly focused on the retail sector. 

Q: How can 2D traceability assist with reporting on and prevention of modern slavery in the food supply chain? 
A: Product credentialing data being accessible via 2D codes (refer the https://nata.com.au/supplychain/ page and also GS1 Digital Link Standard).  ESG claims can and are being managed in exactly the same way - along with many digital trade documents.   

Q: 2D barcodes have the capability of damage resistance through encoding data redundancy compared to 1D. Has this proven out in any supply chain pilots? 
A: There is more error resilience with 2D barcodes.