SSCC codes help streamline the receipt of goods, says David Reichel


The SSCC code (Serial Shipping Container Code or the serial number of the logistics unit) is used to uniquely identify a logistics unit, for example a pallet. We talked about the possibilities and perspectives of using SSCC codes, for example in connection with EDI communication, with David Reichel, who holds the position of solution architect at GRiT.

What is the current rate of application of SSCC codes in logistics? In which sectors are they used more and in which ones are they used less?

At the outset, I would like to repeat the difference between SSCC and ELE (the so-called European logistics label). By itself, the SSCC code does not tell us much. It is simply a unique serial number of the logistics unit. In this form, it plays an important role in the traceability of goods, as it allows recording where a logistics unit with specific goods moves in the distribution chain. The SSCC code then forms an integral part of the logistics label, where, thanks to the GS1-128 standard, additional data about the transported goods can be coded, typically the identification of the goods (GTIN), its quantity in the logistics unit, the batch or the expiration date.

This brings us to practical use, because after a few "beeps" of the codes from the pallet with a reader, the recipient can then immediately do a receipt in their system, because they know exactly what is on the given pallet and can immediately stock it (put in available stock) without unpacking and checks and so on. However, this logically only applies to homogeneous units, i.e. a pallet with only one product of the same lot.

Marking with SSCC codes, however, can be linked with EDI communication and this suddenly gives us completely new possibilities. Because if I have order in the warehouse and I know exactly which goods or which lot is on which pallet, why not share this right away? This means that, in addition to the fact that the pallet can have a unique identification using SSCC, a delivery notification (DESADV message) can then go straight away in the EDI communication, which contains the exact distribution of the goods by individual pallets. The customer can then know exactly which pallet contains which goods from the entire delivery, or if the supplier shares this information, also what the serial numbers, batch or expiry of the given goods are on a particular pallet.

The above example of goods receipt in the warehouse changes at that moment. Because suddenly I can receive each pallet with just one beep (of that SSCC code) and my warehouse system immediately knows (from the data from the supplier for this pallet) which pallet it is, what products are on it, what batches, expirations or even individual serial numbers. And for both homogeneous and mixed pallets.

The application rate of these codes in logistics is therefore large. Larger customers or logistics companies simply want and have to become more efficient with the increasing number of their deliveries, which are getting bigger (i.e. the supplier delivers more pallets) and with the increasing number of trucks that come up against the limited number of capacities of ramps and delivery windows. And the possibility to accept an entire pallet at once or speed up the clearance of a truck is very interesting for these companies from the point of view of competitive advantage. And here one of the helpers is precisely DESADV with SSCC. So, with large retail customers such as Ahold, Makro, Globus, etc., this is already a common thing. The same applies to the most mature e-commerce players, such as Alza or Rohlík. One just has to grow into it. For a customer who takes a crate or a single pallet from suppliers, this may not be of such great importance (in that case, even when using EDI, the customer knows that the crate or pallet has what is on the given DESADV). However, as soon as the delivery is on multiple pallets, it will not detect this without the SSCC variant of DESADV or without disassembling the pallet.

What, if anything, prevents the more massive use of SSCC codes? What are the obstacles to their deployment, what can cause problems during implementation or in real operation?

If we talk about SSCC in connection with DESADV, several things are needed for effective functioning: Business partners must have EDI, and the supplier must be able to put together the right content. If it is not to be a manual activity that adds work for them, then they need to manage their shipment and have a WMS to know exactly what they will ship and what is/will be on which pallet. Then again, the recipient must be able to correctly and appropriately process the given information and, of course, overcome the initial barrier, which is that it is not necessary to unpack each pallet. These can be obstacles that can hinder the development of SSCC codes for some companies.

Of course, even for small suppliers without a WMS, there are many smaller EDI solutions on the market where it is possible to create an SSCC delivery note.

How do you see the future perspective of SSCC codes? Are there any similar or competing technologies for identification of logistics units and traceability of goods in the supply chain?

If the SSCC code is meant as a unique label for the pallet, or rather what is in the distribution, then there is probably nothing to solve and invent here. The second thing is the carrier. Whether instead of the EAN128 form on the ELE label it will be in a chip or in some QR code is only a technicality, it does not change anything in principle. The improvement can be at the level of technical processing (scanning gates and RFID chips), when, for example, the need to "beep" each pallet will be eliminated.

The matter of course in development is then the linking of the physical unit, which is in distribution and is identified by a unique SSCC code, with specific data - i.e. with DESADV, for example, which tells me what goods are on the pallet, what batch it has, expiration date, etc.

To what extent does your company incorporate SSCC codes into its solutions?

Since our portfolio includes both a warehouse management system (WMS) and EDI, SSCC codes and their connection with electronic notices are an integral and fixed part of our portfolio.

With our solutions, we are able for customers to quickly engage their suppliers in EDI communication and also enable distributed transport units to identify SSCC codes in connection with the DESADV electronic notice. Or, on the contrary, enable suppliers to ship efficiently and keep order in the warehouse using WMS.

The interview was published in the magazine Systémy Logistiky, prepared by David Čapek.

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