eCl@ss is an ISO/IEC compliant product data standard that is used for classifying and describing products, services, materials, and systems by various industries the world over. A globally unique International Registration Data Identifier (IRDI) is assigned to each product in accordance with ISO 29002-5.
Some of the structural elements used for the purpose include classification classes, keywords, product descriptions, properties, units, aspects, blocks, and values. The eCl@ss classification system relies on a four-level hierarchical grouping of products and services. These include:
The eCl@ss standard comes with an unprecedented number of product classes as well as unique properties. This gives users the ability to standardize aspects such as procurement, production, storage, and distribution across sectors, without worrying about geographical limitations. The eCl@ss standard represents most of the goods and services traded internationally.
Some of its 44 segments include logistics, construction, office products, automotive supplies, optics, pharmaceuticals, and foodstuffs. It has around 41,000 product classes along with around 17,000 uniquely described properties. The four levels of classification simplify categorizing any product or service, which ends with a unique eight-digit code.
The use of additional identifiers with distinct machine-readable codes helps avoid duplications and mix-ups when it comes to adding specific properties such as brand names, supplier names, and type designations.
Headquartered in Germany, eCl@ss e.V. operates as a non-profit organization. It works in continually developing the eCl@ss standard and distributing it across different sectors the world over.
eCl@ss e.V. was founded on 14 November 2000. The idea was developed through collaboration between 12 industry bigwigs from Germany. These included Siemens, Lufthansa, Audi, Bosch, Bayer, BASF, RWE, and SAP. Now, the organization has over 150 members comprising of businesses, public institutions, and associations. The cumulative annual turnover of its members stands at around €1 billion.
The organization publishes new versions of the eCl@ss dictionary regularly. Each new version comes with additional files that simplify automatic migration of data. New versions may vary from older ones when it comes to defined classes and properties.
Consider these eCl@ss coding examples:
The first two digits (32) represent the first level of classification (laboratory material/laboratory technology).
The second set of two digits (03) represents the second level of classification (laboratory incidentals/utilities).
The third set of two digits (03) represents the third level of classification (manual device).
The last two digits refer to the product in question. “01” stands for a double spatula. “02” indicates a flour scoop. “04” represents a spatula spoon.
The product description follows after the fourth level and includes any properties and values one might want to add.