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An Introduction to Global Location Number (GLN) - Brett Clawson - Blog

An Introduction to Global Location Number (GLN)

With Global Location Numbers (GLN), locations around the world can be tagged with a unique number to help anyone know where an item or an individual is. It has become a critical tool in exchanging information between companies all along the supply chain. What exactly is a GLN and how can it help you?  Here is an introduction to GLNs that help answer 7 common questions.

What is a GLN?

A GLN is a standardized number assigned to a specific location. Global Standards One (GS1) is a non-profit company that governs the formation and use of GLNs. Each number consists of a GS1 Company Prefix, Location Reference, and Check Digit. The purpose of the number is to quickly identify a location along with the entity that is connected with it. 

Who can Use a GLN?

Any legal entity can utilize this helpful code. Companies can have just one global location number or multiple numbers to use within their organization.

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Where is a GLNs Used?

Because of the unique formation of the code, it can be used anywhere in the world. A company may place a code at its headquarters to identify its location. The code can also be used in multiple locations such as a warehouse, a loading dock or a shelf. For hospitals, a number can be assigned to a bed or a refrigerated storage unit where medicine is stored. A bank may assign a code to each ATM they have. A company may also assign a GLN to a digital location such as an ERP. Any location where items need to be tracked can have a dedicated code.

How is a GLN Used?

To understand the usefulness of a GLN, you can imagine an item such as a package being tracked from its origin to its destination. When a company receives an order for a product, they give the customer a UPC number for that item. When the product is at the warehouse, the item’s UPC is scanned to identify it and then the warehouse's GLN is scanned to tag the item to that location. With tracking software, the customer can see their package is now at the warehouse. It then moves to the dock where it is scanned again along with the GLN at the dock. From there, it moves to its destination where it is scanned again along with the customer's GLN so the customer can know that the package has arrived. You may have tracked a package yourself and not even know that GLNs were used for each step of the delivery.

How is a GLN Formed?

The GLN, as mentioned earlier, is formed with three components. The first is a GS1 company prefix. This number uniquely identifies the legal entity. The second is the location number. This number varies in length depending on the length of the company prefix and is assigned by the company. The company prefix and location number are always 12 digits long. The last number is a single digit check number.

How is a GLN Obtained?

To start using a GLN, a company must register with GS1. GS1 will assign a company prefix that is unique to each company. Once the prefix has been assigned, the company can start generating GLNs and assigning them to locations within the company.

What is the Benefit of a GLN?

A company could easily make a system of numbers that would do the same job as a GLN. The problem with this approach is that a company generated number system would not integrate with other companies. A feature of GLNs is that they are standardized across the world so that any company can use the code. Also, because GLN is derived from a GS1 number, a company can use all the functionality of the GS1 system. This saves time and money while maintaining the uniqueness of each company.

GLNs are revolutionizing how companies track items. With these basic questions answered, your company can utilize GLNs for greater productivity.


Publish Date: March 27, 2020 7:47 PM

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