Monday, February 9, 2009

Item marking as per the new MIL-STD-130M standard

All military and defense related items needs to be standardized according to the MIL-STD-130L standard to be UID compliant. However, certain problems were observed regarding the item marking method and that’s why the Department of Defense (DoD) made certain amendment in the previous MIL-STD-130L standard and a new standard known as MIL-STD-130M was proposed on 2nd December 2005. As compared to the earlier standard, this new MIL-STD-130M has been proposed in a thoroughly detailed manner so as to offer better guidance.

Starting from label verification to direct part marking, the new MIL-STD-130M standard is involved in every aspect of item identification process. Permanent labels must be used in all tangible military items. However, those labels must be non-removable, chemical resistant, fade resistant, scratch resistant and legible for the life of the item being affixed. Various materials such as polyester, brushed aluminum foil, polyimide, high quality paper, laser etching and dot peened tags are used.

Scope of MIL-STD-130M

As per the MIL-STD-130 SPEC, there was an impending requirement for military product data content to be available for both human-readable information (HRI) i.e. free text and machine-readable information (MRI) applications of item identification marking and the new MIL-STD-130M addresses that very criterion. This item identification marking method is a must for all military property produced, stored, stocked, and issued by or for the Department of Defense (DoD). The figures in this MIL-STD-130M standard are intended only for better illustration of the textual context and hence the presence or absence of figures has no bearing on the applicability of the stated standard.

The two types of identification marking as per the new MIL-STD-130M standard are discussed briefly as follows.

Human-readable information (HRI) marking

As per the new MIL-STD-130M standard, HRI marking should be done in a clear text conveying required information, fully visible and readable without the use of interpretative devices. This is defined in section5.2.2 of the new standard. The HRI based text should have information about the item identifying number, part number and LOT number of the tangible military products. Guidance for the machine-readable information marking protocol utilized should also be included as supplement in the HRT text form.

Machine-readable information (MRI) marking

Along with human readable marking, machine readable marking (MRI) is also mandated for all items according to the new amendment in the MIL-STD-130 SPEC. for MRI marking, pattern of squares, bars, dots, or other specific shapes containing information interpretable through the use of equipment are designed specifically. The patterns can either be visible or can also be applied for ultraviolet, infrared, or other non-human visible reading capabilities including digital protocol applications. It should have serial number, part number, manufacturer’s identification number and National Stock Number (NSN).

However, certain military items such as Electron Tubes, Batteries, Rayon or Woven garment, Rocket Motors, Petroleum and related products and Integrated Circuits manufacturing are excluded from the provisions of this standard as per MIL-STD-130 SPEC. Mechanical Tubing, Carbon and Low-Alloy Steels, Aircraft Tubing and Copper Base Alloy Mill are some of the industries which are also excluded from using the new MIL-STD-130M standard.

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