EPC Tag Data Standard (TDS)

The complete and most up-to-date EPCglobal TDS can be found here. 

Tag Data Standards define how EPC data is encoded in the information system layers of the EPC Systems Network. The TDS defines how GS1 Keys are encoded into EPC schemas. In addition, the TDS defines a General Identifier, and the schemas for the Department of Defense, and the Aerospace and Defense Identifier (ADI). These three schemas have no corresponding GS1 Key as they are for use only within those organizations.



The push for a globally accepted set of standards gained momentum in 1999 when the Uniform Code Council, EAN International, Proctor and Gamble, and Gillette established the Auto ID Center. The Auto ID Center developed the idea to combine RFID technology and EPC data for use in the supply chain.

Within the next five years, the U.S. Department of Defense and several large name companies came to support the Auto ID Center. In 2003, EPCglobal was created to develop standards for EPC use, with RFID tags as the common data carrier.


Why is TDS important?

Without a globally accepted standard, companies are free to follow any encodation logic and may use whatever software and hardware specifications they choose.  Companies may also comply with a certain retailer’s standards, but those specifications may only work within that retailer’s closed supply chain system.

A globally accepted TDS results in greater efficiency and accuracy, and ensures that RFID tag data can be read across all retailers and industries. On the most basic levels, businesses are easily able to track their products through manufacture, transport, distribution, and in retail settings.  Once product reaches the retail setting, stock levels can easily be measured and tracking each item discourages theft.

Big name retail stores adopting RFID technology early on are slowly streamlining the process with their suppliers.  Full implementation of the technology will take time, and a TDS will only make that process easier for suppliers and retailers alike.