These barcodes are created by extending the existing 13-digit barcode to create its corresponding ITF-14 – also known as a GTIN-14 or UCC-14 barcode. When linked correctly within a retailer’s inventory system, scanning this 14 digit barcode when a large consignment of goods is received will automatically add the correct amount of stock available for each item. Hence, if you supply a large box of your barcoded chocolate bars, for example, with 500 bars inside – one scan of the box barcode will update the system with 500 items of the corresponding 13-digit barcode number displayed on each of the chocolate bars themselves. Naturally this makes the process faster and more accurate for all parties concerned. Where a box contains packages of shrink-wrapped items – say for example packages of ten instant noodles, then the outer case barcode will be calculated from the barcode appearing on the shrink-wrap and not the individual items themselves.
The barcode symbology:
ITF-14 utilises the existing ‘Interleaved 2 of 5’ barcode symbology – hence ITF as a method to describe it without causing confusion. The vast majority of retailers in South Africa will use this symbology – a more complex barcode known as a GS1-128 is used in complex operations where it is necessary to indicate batch number, shelf life, production date, product volume and many other identifiers. Your average user in SA is not likely to come across a request for one of these though. (But contact us if you do!) Some retailers permit the use of the EAN-13 Barcode itself on case packaging as well.
Displaying the case barcode:
When using ITF-14 symbology, you have the option of either printing the barcode directly onto the box (or corrugate) or displaying the barcode on a sticker or label attached to the carton. Outer case barcodes can be formed either with our without bearer bars as follows:
When the barcode is to be printed directly onto the substrate you will need to use both the upper and lower as well as the side bearer bars and it is advisable to magnify the barcode depending on the scanners and software of the retailer’s warehouse. Verifying for scannability is highly advised. When the box barcodes are printed on labels using a thermal transfer system then only the top and bottom bearer bars are needed.
How the ITF-14 Barcode is made up:
Case barcodes comprise 14 digits. The initial digit is known as the ‘level indicator’ – and can be a number from 1 up until 8. Hereafter follows the 13 digit EAN barcode which is used on the individual items; or the shrink-wrapped package of individual items, less its final check digit (a new check digit is calculated to validate the new ITF-14 barcode which results.
So for example, let’s take imaginary retail object with barcode 0700123321128; which you are supplying to wholesalers in boxes of 10 units, 12 units, 24 units and 50 units.
With the check digit removed, your EAN extension becomes 12 digits: 070012332112
Now the level indicators can be applied as follows:
1 = 10 units
2 = 12 units
3 = 24 units and
4 = 50 units
We get the following:
A check digit is now calculated using the EAN Modulo10 Method and added to the barcode to validate it as follows:
Below are shown the original EAN barcode, and the corresponding IT4-14 Barcode for the box containing 10 of its units:
Original EAN Barcode: