The UPC code, or Universal Product Code, has changed the way stores calculate prices and take inventory. Once used only in supermarkets, the UPC code can be found on virtually every product that is sold today. With a simple scan, the person behind the counter can use a computer to quickly add up your bill, whereas in the past, the employee had to go through the laborious process of typing each individual code by hand. The UPC code revolution has made these tasks easier and has eliminated mistakes that were common in the days of typing in prices.
When a company creates a new product, it will apply to the UCC (Uniform Code Council) for a UPC code for the new product. The product does not need to be original; if a soda company want to start selling its product in 16 oz bottles in addition to 12 ounce can, the company needs to apply for a UPC code for the new size. The code consists of a code of numbers readable to us and a series of bars that can be decoded by a machine.
The UCC will issue a 12 digit code for the new product. The first 6 digits form the code used by the manufacturer on all of its products. The next 5 digits form the product code. The last digit is used to check that all of the other digits are correct. This is done by adding up all of the other numbers including the last one. A consistent result means that the code is correct, and a discrepancy is a signal that there has been a printing error.
The UPC code, as the name implies, is used wherever in the world the product is sold. Manufacturers use special printers to produce the labels and computer software. Many companies prefer not to do this work themselves, but outsource the job to other countries, where labor is much cheaper. However, there are many printers and forms of software on the market that can make this outsourcing unnecessary.