AIDC application standards


The application standards of any data carrier technology are independent of the technology standards, but should use them as normative references. They are usually developed by a user body with expert knowledge of the sector being addressed by the application standard. The quality of the technical knowledge varies from industry to industry; this is also true for bar code, but probably more so for RFID.

The focus for now is on RFID application standards, some of which have derived from bar code applications. In future this category will list bar code applications directly linked to the Internet of Things. Even then it is difficult to get details of these standards without having some inside knowledge to access information. The organisations' websites provide little information.

A particular class of application standards, usually published as ISO standards, functions at a generic level and addresses a layer between the technology standards and the industry-specific applications. Effectively, these are "pro forma" standards that are designed to achieve interoperability between different domains using the same business functions such as a supply chain or transport interface.

The basic requirement for an application standard using an AIDC technology is to identify the data that needs to be encoded and the data carrier (for bar code this is the symbology, for RFID this is the air interface protocol)to be used. So, a fundamental first stage is to identify an appropriate data dictionary with the relevant data elements that need to be encoded. Additional characteristics that need to be taken into account are: whether the data element is mandatory or optional, to define any formatting constraints on input data, and whether the data is required to be permanently encoded or changeable on the RFID tag.

The data carrier on its own does not comprise an AIDC application system, and consideration needs to be given to the expected performance to meet business requirements. Therefore, an application standard is required to select a particular characteristics that are necessary to meet the requirements of the application. An obvious requirement is that the data carrier has sufficient memory to meet the encoding requirements, but the application standard might need to further specify either types of reading device or specific performance capabilities for the system to work in a particular business situation.

Before standardisation, applications had to accept what was provided with respect to encoding schemes. Now, the choice of different schemes allows an application to make choices on the dynamics of the data within the application. If a fixed set of data is required, then some encoding schemes are better at addressing this and others can encode optional data in an extremely flexible manner.