Swiss Federal Railways Adopts GS1 EPCIS + OriginTrail Parts Tracking Solution

5 min readJan 5, 2021

On Dec 17, 2020 Dominik Halbeisen, SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) Senior Project Manager for Supply Chain & Infrastructure delivered a web presentation on the strategy SBB has adopted to meet the challenge of unifying the European rail system into a comprehensive network of shared data and resources with regards to coordination of infrastructure maintenance, parts and repair.

The solution SBB decided on combines a decentralized EPCIS repository with an open source data indexing middleware called OriginTrail. Think of the EPCIS repository as a massive spreadsheet written in chronological order. Origin Trail takes this raw data and indexes it into interlinked knowledge graphs with subgraphs. This provides search ability, interlinkage of related data, filtering, identity based access controls, open ended extensibility and infinite scaling.

Let’s look at both components:


Electronic Product Code Information Services = a GS1 standard that enables trading partners to share information about the movement and status of physical or digital objects as they travel through the supply chain.

GS1 introduced the globally standard barcode and is currently facilitating the transition to Web 3.0 linked QR codes. GS1 standards are widely adopted by commercial and state enterprises around the world.

Consider ERPs = Enterprise Resource Planning refers to software organizations use to manage activities including accounting, purchasing, management, risk assessment, regulatory compliance, supply chain logistics, and more. Every company in the world uses its own mix of software solutions, which presents significant challenges for inter-organizational data sharing. EPCIS data standards define a common language global supply chain participants can use to communicate and exchange data fluently.

( coincidentally updated EPCIS 2.0 standards will be released any day now, watch for GS1 + OriginTrail related news concerning EPCIS 2.0 in the immediate future )


Translating data into a common format further requires organizing it in meaningful ways to make it useful.

OriginTrail is open source, neutral middleware designed to standardize data coming from anywhere and organize it in indexed knowledge graphs with flexible public / private permissions. Knowledge Graphs are a way of organizing data in terms of relationship to other data, they’re what enabled Google to conquer the world by extracting actionable insights from previously unstructured data.

OriginTrail hosts data on a fully decentralized, permissionless network of nodes which ensures resistance to data tampering and censorship while structurally guaranteeing data creators privacy by design with complete control over data provenance, sharing only what they choose with other participants for so long as a sharing agreement exists. Hashed data fingerprints are written to the data creator’s blockchain of choice to ensure data integrity.

OriginTrail is developed by Trace Labs, a European software development company currently working closely with the EU Commission, GS1, British Standards Institution, World Economic Forum, Oracle, Parity and others to develop the foundations of a human-centric, standards based Web 3.0.


European rail networks developed in parallel in different territories using different production systems and labeling schemes. Rail industry participants now seeking to coordinate for mutual benefit could not do so efficiently.

Dominik Halbeisen :
“In the beginning our main issue was speaking the same language. We were identifying the same components differently. This is something we had to work on first and we did it by developing and adapting GS1 standards to the needs of our industry, which differs in one very important aspect. Objects live up to 60 years, way beyond consumable lifespans, and objects come back or are re-fabricated and returned to the field in a modified version, so we needed to get the identification of parts aligned.

The next thing which came up is how do we use this? How do we actually
exchange data sets which come from a standardized numbering scheme in such a way that we can start sharing business data across company borders?”

How do I find the right and complete information?
Do I even know all the parties publishing information in relation to a certain part I have in service?”

How do I control what I’m sharing?
Even though I have a component installed in my infrastructure and I share data in relation to it I don’t want everybody to be able to read all the data, so permissions become an essential aspect.”

How are we kept up to date?
“We need to obtain notifications in relation to objects that are of interest to us and disregard what for us is just background noise.”

“From day one of the discussion about creating a data network several scenarios had been handed around. One was to install a kind of central authority which is neutral and allows everybody to access an information pool via that authority.

Another model is to design the technology in such a way that you do not need to govern things or think ahead into distances that you cannot grasp yet.”

“That’s where we have found OriginTrail and the technology that goes along with it. It actually answers the above questions”


Branimir Rakic, Trace Labs CTO :
“In a decentralized network of different entities that can communicate directly with each other there is no need for a central authority. In this case the decentralized EPCIS repository utilizes W3C identifiers and verifiable credentials. The key thing is everybody has control of their identity and has the ability to find any piece of relevant EPCIS structured information on the network.”

Adopting a fully decentralized, open source solution built on universal, extensible standards affords all participants flexibility to join or leave as suits their needs. Users may freely extend the functionality of the network to meet future challenges without altering the underlying structure of accumulated data.

Dominik Halbeisen :
“If something cannot change it is doomed to stop working gradually over time. As long as we follow a basic set of standards we do not need to worry about the future because the standards allow us to connect any puzzle piece to the puzzle pieces already in existence”

“We are flexible. We can actually scale. We can actually multiply what we see. And this is the winning proposition from applying the solution that we have with OriginTrail.”

“For us this was the right fit.”

Source : Dominik Halbeison Presenting at the OriginTrail Dec 17 2020 Liftoff Event

Origin Trail :

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