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European article number (bar code) (EAN)

The European Article Number (EAN) is a bar code standardized in Europe for the identification of goods and products. The EAN bar code is a bar/ gap code used exclusively for encodingdigits and can be read by bar code readers for the purpose of data collection.

The EAN bar code is a multi-width code where the bars and gaps consist of more than two widths. It is specified in the European standardsEN 797 to EN 801 and is compatible with the UPC code, Universal Product Code (UPC). It comes in many different versions with variable and fixed number of characters. In addition, there are three different character sets, i.e. bar-gap combinations, for digit coding.

The bar-gap encodings are based on a width grid of seven units, with each digit represented by two bars and two gaps. The width of the bars (S) and the gaps (L) can be one, two, three, or four width units. For example, the digit "3" in the character set "A" is encoded in the bar-gap combination LSSSSLS, or the digit "8" is encoded as LSSLSSS.

A simple EAN code

Data structure of the EAN-13 bar code

Data structure of the EAN-13 bar code

The simplest form of EAN code is EAN-8, which is a very short bar code limited to eight digits and is used when there is little space available for goods labeling. The EAN 8, which is an abbreviated version of the EAN-13, was renamed GTIN(Global Trade Identity Number) short code in 2009. It consists of two four-digit numbers separated by a separator, which are two elongated dashes. In total, EAN 8 comprises six code elements: the start and stop characters, a two- or three-digit country code, the four- or five-digit article number and the Modulo 10 check digit. The EAN-8 code can be used to represent the digits 0000000 to 9999999.

EAN-13, a frequently used EAN code

One of the most commonly used EAN codes is EAN-13, which is used for product identification in retail. It consists of twelve digits and the checksum. The twelve digits include a uniform country, manufacturer and product identification. The country code consists of two or three digits - USA and Canada have country codes 00 to 13, Germany has 400 to 440 - , the company number is a four or five digit number, as is the article number. The 13th digit is the checksum, which is encoded in the first six digits of the left half of the EAN code.

Different EAN codes

Different EAN codes

Another EAN code encoded with the ASCII character set is EAN 128, which is a further development of Code 128. It has a variable length with a checksum calculated from modulo 103. EAN-128 has a maximum character length of 48 characters and is mainly used for pallet labeling. The EAN-128 can encode alphanumeric characters and at the same time contain the EAN-13 code.

In merchandise management systems, the EAN code is stored in the server via the article number with prices that are read from the server when the barcode is scanned. The EAN bar codes are issued only upon request.

Englisch: European article number (bar code) - EAN
Updated at: 21.09.2020
#Words: 493
Links: code, identification, gap, data collection (DC), enterprise network (EN)
Translations: DE

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