Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Analysis on UID marking

UID marking acts as a universal method of parts identification program. The Department of Defense has implemented this marking method to keep track of Govt. furnished items.

Unique identification or UID marking is a US Department of Defense (DoD)’s initiative program to keep track of all government furnished tangible assets through their useful life. For all solicitations issued on or after Jan. 1, 2005, UID marking is a mandatory DoD requirement. Today, UID marking has become a business-critical operation for all DoD contractors. This identification marking is globally unique and unambiguous, and ensures data integrity and data quality throughout life of the items. UID marking also supports multi-faceted business applications.

Starting from acquisition, deployment to the repair phase; UID marking helps achieving higher state of operational readiness. As it’s easy to keep track of all the defense related items, forgery and counterfeiting of parts can also be stopped. Thus not only logistics support, UID marking are helpful for better operational planning and system engineering.

Today, many industries, such as Automotive, Aerospace, and Electronics, have already implemented UID marking on their items and parts.

UID marking requirements:
As per the DoD policy, those items, whose

  • Cost $5,000 or more,
  • Are considered mission-critical,
  • Are managed by serial number,
  • Are part of controlled inventory,
  • Any consumable material where permanent identification is necessary, are required to have UID marking on them

UID marking options:
Many contractors prefer to outsource their UID marking to subcontractors to facilitate the marking process. Outsourcing is a good short-term solution but for those contractors who supply the DoD very infrequently. But in-house compliance systems can bring UID marking operations in house and can be a cost-effective solution for those contractors who are required to submit to the DoD quite often.

In-house printing is the best long-term UID marking solution. Let’s have a brief analysis of various in-house UID marking methods available.

Label printing
This is one of the most common UID marking methods used by DoD suppliers. A permanent adhesive label is required to be affixed onto the items in this method. Direct-thermal and thermal-transfer on-demand printing methodology is used for mission-critical bar code labeling applications.


  1. This type of UID marking ensures long-lasting bar code labels.

Offers cost-effective in-house marking option.
Can withstand temperatures up to 600° F.

The only limitation is this marking option is limited by capabilities of label media.

Direct part marking:
One of the most popular marking methodologies, this UID marking process involves stamping or etching symbols directly on the items. The marking process depends a lot on the structural tolerance and composition of the item.

Effective use of the limited space area.
Can withstand extreme environmental conditions.

The marking process is extremely slow.
A bit expensive.
If applied incorrectly or is unreadable, the whole info about the item can go for a waste.

Data plates:
This form of UID marking isn’t used much frequently as expensive equipments are required to create the data plates. But these data plates can be useful for environments where adhesive can’t withstand the tough conditions.

Data plates are available in a variety of plastics and metals.
Durable and can withstand chemicals and other hazards.

Quite expensive.

Fasteners are often required, which is a time consuming process.

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