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GS1’s Scan4Transport standards now include temperature application identifiers. Image: GS1 Australia.

The world of logistics is forever evolving, and the new Scan4Transport standards make it even easier for the industry to manage temperature-sensitive consignments. With freight volume on the rise, universal barcoding solutions are becoming the need of the hour.

The vast and intricate world of the freight and logistics industry is witnessing a surge, both in terms of volume and diversification. With more players entering the scene —particularly those focused on last mile logistics — and the increasing complexity due to customer requirements and the fragmented nature of the industry, the need for standardised systems has never been more evident. Given the challenges, such as limited connectivity and the absence of electronic information exchange, there’s a pressing demand for interoperability and capturing key transport instructions via barcodes.


Michiel Ruighaver of GS1 sheds light on how the logistics world confronted challenges in the past: “Around 2017, the industry approached GS1 about the challenges caused by the myriad of transport labels across the industry. Each carrier had its unique format. So, they spoke different ‘languages’ – to use an analogy.” 

Such inconsistencies were problematic, especially for large shippers dealing with multiple transport companies. That’s why Scan4Transport was introduced as a “standard format, initiated in 2019, with a global group of shippers, logistic service providers and solution providers from 21 countries. This standardised the transport industry’s language.” 

Traditional information like delivery addresses was incorporated directly into the logistic label’s 2D barcode, aiding in first- and last-mile deliveries. However, Michiel says there was an emerging challenge: the inability to encode freight temperature requirements in a standard format.


In the logistics sector, there are instances when providers deal with freight without an electronic manifest, relying instead on paper or waiting for the electronic version. In such cases, manually entering transport requirements becomes the norm. While the existing Scan4Transport standards have successfully managed requirements such as Ship-To Address or Authority to Leave, the introduction of Freight Temperature Requirements has been a game-changer. 

“Now that we have a standard for it, many more carriers can adopt it,” Michiel says. “The main goal is to provide all relevant information in a scannable format, minimising errors.

While the existing Scan4Transport standards have successfully managed requirements such as Ship-To Address or Authority to Leave, the introduction of Freight Temperature Requirements has been a game-changer.
While the existing Scan4Transport standards have successfully managed requirements such as Ship-To Address or Authority to Leave, the introduction of Freight Temperature Requirements has been a game-changer.

“These new standards aren’t just about maintaining temperature requirements. They bring a transformative change. For instance, in the past, temperature-sensitive freight might have a label that changes colour when the temperature goes above a set limit. However, you’d only know there was an issue after the fact. Now, carriers can capture the temperature requirements electronically, allowing for proactive measures.” 

This proactive approach ensures that the logistics companies remain ahead of potential challenges, drastically reducing points of failure.


It was essential to involve various industry leaders in the development of these standards. Michiel emphasises the collaboration, noting that players like Freightways, 4Technology, Escavox, and the University of Melbourne played pivotal roles in ensuring the Freight Temperature Requirement AIs were a success.

Implementation of the new temperature AIs is relatively simple for those already utilising the original Scan4Transport standards – but for those who haven’t, they should begin that journey today. 

“It’s relatively simple – as a common business language should be,” says Michiel. “With a standardised approach, parties scanning a barcode can see whether a temperature encoded in a barcode, for example ‘0 degrees,’ is a minimum or maximum temperature for the freight due to GS1 application identifiers (qualifiers) used to define the data. Having standards simplifies the implementation process compared to proprietary formats which vary from company to company. If you setup your system using GS1 standards, future enhancements become easier than proprietary systems.” With GS1’s Scan4Transport standards, it’s like updating a dictionary: “Every new year, a few new words come out.”


Michiel also touches upon the question of why there is a particular emphasis on temperature control now. 

“Many businesses aim to improve quality and reduce waste. A robust approach to temperature control helps in this endeavour,” Michiel says. He further adds that enhanced visibility in the supply chain can mitigate waste. “Take fresh produce suppliers, for instance. If their products go outside a certain temperature range, it reduces the shelf life. Fresh produce and dairy products might have a specific shelf life, but if subjected to inappropriate temperatures, their ‘use-by’ date shrinks.”

Focusing on the food and beverage supply chain specifically, Michiel notes that businesses often have to navigate a maze of regulatory requirements. Different countries have varied requirements for demonstrating traceability, safety, and quality. 

“GS1’s global standards act as a bridge,” Michiel notes. “They provide a global standard which enables businesses to demonstrate compliance and simplify international trade, irrespective of where their products are headed.”

Furthermore, as trade agreements evolve and consumer demands shift, the industry needs to remain agile. Michiel believes that GS1’s continuous evolution and adaptation to changing market needs position it as an indispensable ally for supply chains – including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and many others.

To fully understand the potential of the Scan4Transport’s new application identifiers, one only has to look at the industry’s trajectory. With the rising demand for temperature-specific freight handling and the collaborative spirit of global logistics leaders. 

The future, it seems, is looking increasingly cool.

For more information on GS1, click here.


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