Tuesday, May 26, 2009

IUID: The Enhanced Item Traceability Program

The IUID program has introduced the marking of unique identification for the personal property of the government for better asset management and item tracking procedure.

The Unique identification (UID) program was launched by the Department of Defense in 2003 to simplify the item tracking process under the DoD. The UID program is associated with tracking, personal property, Government property and property under the possession of the contractors. IUID or the item unique identification program is a subset of UID and it aims at the personal property of the DoD. The prime goal of the IUID is to enhance the item management and tracking of the delivered items to the DoD by marking unique item identifier.

The IUID program ensures that the items are marked with globally unique identification. The UII, according to DoD, is “identifies an item with a set of data that is globally unique and unambiguous.” All the goods delivered to the DoD should be marked with UII by the contractors. The UII is a set of data that is encoded into 2D data matrix barcode symbols. The MIL-STD-130 has provided the instructions for the data and the manufacture of UID nameplates. The contractors are required to follow the instructions and construct the UID nameplates so that they meet the standard and the requirements.

IUID marking methodology is a business critical operation and the DoD contractors need to know it’s basic so as to get their UID marked items accepted by the UID Registry. In fact, the suppliers should understand the IUID marking program that enhances item traceability, asset visibility, and lifecycle item management and accountability. If the service provider of UII marking understands the capabilities of different marking methods, it is not too difficult or expensive to achieve IUID program compliance. The DoD only requires a permanent marking solution to the items with the help of the contractors.

2D Data Matrix Marking

While developing the IUID marking system, the most important consideration is to determine the most effective way of marking the items and applying the 2D data matrix symbols. The UII data are expressed in a 2D data matrix barcode symbols. The UID marking standard has specified the exact size and font type of the symbols and the supply should ensure that the symbols are in accordance with the standard before making it to UID Registry. Many contractors outsource the IUID marking to the subcontractors. However, it is the responsibility of the contractors to check the quality of marking.

The IUID marking program allows two important methods of marking- Direct part marking and application of UID labels.

Direct Part Marking

The direct part marking allows etching the symbols directly to the items or parts. However, the process is allowed considering the structural tolerance and composition of the item. The advantage of the marking is that it is a durable and one step process. However, the downside is if the data is entered incorrectly the item is wasted.

UID Labels

This is the ultimate IUID marking solution of the items under the DoD. They are constructed with metallic and non-metallic materials and affixed to the items with fasteners such as rivets and screws.

How to Connect the 2D Data Matrix Scanner

The advanced technology of connectivity is allowing better connection option for the 2D data matrix scanner. However, the options are selected according to the mechanism of the devices.

The UII marking of items are the efficient item management process of Government and private organizations. The UID data is engraved on the item or labels in the form of 2D data matrix symbols. The symbols are machine-readable codes and need to be decoded with a 2D data matrix scanner. The 2D data matrix scanner is an electronic device meant to interpret the printed barcodes on the items. Technologically, the device is developed with decoder circuitry that analyses the image data of the barcode and sends the interpreted data to the output port of the scanner.

Use of 2D data matrix scanner became widespread due to the use of 2D barcode symbols in the UII of the items. There are different methods of connection of the device depending on the usage.

Earlier, the barcode scanners of all formats used RS232 serial interface. The simple and electrical means of connection use easy and simple software, it needs to be written for particular computers and their serial ports though.

Proprietary interfaces are less common interfaces and were used with dedicated hardware. Wand emulation is another kind of output that decodes the raw wave. It can also convert the unrecognized symbologies into another kind of symbology that is easily recognized by the host device.

With the advent of innovative technologies, PCs has become the popular device. PCs and its standard keyboard interfaces are becoming convenient for any kind of user as they are easier to connect with physical hardware. With the commercial and general demand of reducing the complications of the associated software the ‘Keyboard Wedges’ have been introduced for connecting the 2D data matrix scanner. The ‘Keyboard Wedges’ is a hardware with characters from the barcode scanner appearing as if typed in through the keyboard and is attached between PC and its keyboard. This type of connection of the 2D data matrix scanner has simplified the use of the device. However, it has limitations in handling the content of the data matrix code.

Of course, these days, the USB connectors have replaced the keyboard ports for it is a more convenient hardware option. The easy integration of the scanner is retained by using a ‘software wedge’ in place of ‘keyboard wedge’.

PS/2 or USB cables are the becoming popular these days for connecting barcode scanners. The cables are connected with the 2D data matrix scanner at one end and the PS/2 keyboard port with another end. The data matrix codes are received by the host computer and converted keyboard input. Many scanner support the USB. Choices for the USB interface types are provided by many scanners. For instance, some of the devices have powered USB.

These days, most of the devices are being connected with wireless networking. The modern 2D data matrix scanners are also available with such facilities. The wireless enabled scanners are operated with the help of Bluetooth and WLAN. However, such devices use battery or rechargeable battery for their function which limit their time of operation.

With the changing technology the methods of connection of the 2D data matrix scanner is improving and being more user friendly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Compliance of DoD UID Labels According to the MIL-STD-130 N Requirements

The DoD UID labels are required to be according to the standards of MIL-STD-130 N. The mentioned criteria must be followed by the contractors to avoid rejection.

The DoD UID labels are one of the ways of marking the DoD items with unique identification so as to enhance their traceability. The Department of Defense has mandated that the labels should be MIL-STD-130 N compliant so that all markings of the items should maintain a standard. As the marking and serialization process of the items are the essential aspect of item management and tracking, the UID marking that doesn’t comply with the standards are rejected by the department. The DoD UID labels are marked with 2D Data matrix codes that are machine readable either by direct part marking or by applying permanent UID labels.

Apart from the feature that the unit acquisition cost of the items should be more than $5000, the other criteria that enables the items to have unique identification are

  • The items are controlled inventory
  • Serially managed
  • Mission essential
  • The item is customable where permanent identification is necessary.

As the basic identification marking standard of the DoD UID labels are regulated by the MIL-STD-130 N, it is mandatory for the contractors to obey the instructions provided in the standard. The standard has issued some specifications for the marking requirements and the marking methods of the UID.

Depending on the requirement of the UID marking of the item, the labels (nameplates, ID plates or Data plates) can be constructed with either metallic or non-metallic materials.

The DoD UID labels of the items are made of material either same or different that that of the material of the item. It is essential that the material of the labels shouldn’t cause any damage to the items and should get affixed to the material of the items or parts.

The standard has limited the number of characters of the UID marking of the labels to 50.

The criteria for machine-readable and human readable information of the UID data on the DoD UID label are declared by the MIL-STD-130 N.

The validation and verification of data are mandatory for each submitted data.

The warranty of contract between the government and the contractors states about the nature, utility and condition of the objects.

The drawbacks of the MIL-STD-130 have been rectifying for the convenience of the contractors and better management of the UID items. The latest version of the MIL-STD-130 N, which was released on December 17 2007, has mentioned the criteria for DoD UID labels, validation and verification. According to the standard, different lighting methods should be used for the different part marking. The contractors are required to follow the instructions provided for marking of UID and manufacturing UID labels.

The DoD UID labels are verified according to the cell modulation, cell size, cell contrast, print growth, reference decode, fixed pattern damage, unused error correction, axial non-uniformity, minimum reflectance, and grid non-uniformity. When the outsourcing of UID is considered, the DoD should ensure that the service should follow all the steps mandated by the standard. Even, the DoD UID label generating software must comply with the standards of MIL-STD-130 N.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crucial Aspects of UID Nameplates

UID nameplates should meet the standard of the MIL-STD-130. There are various criteria mentioned in the standard for the marking of the nameplates.

Generally, UID nameplates and the labels are used with the items where the direct part marking is not suitable. Unique item identifier is mandatory for the DoD items for it has become a part of their item management process. However, there are certain criteria for the marking and construction of the nameplate that must be fulfilled to get accepted by the Department of Defense. The instructions for IUID marking of the nameplates have been mentioned by in the MIL-STD-130 N and the contractors are required to follow the instructions while manufacturing the nameplates.

The Materials

There is no specification mentioned for the materials of the UID nameplates. The contractors can provide metallic or non metallic nameplates. The DoD has allowed the use of any strong material for the construction of the nameplates. The nameplates can be of same material as the item or may be different. But, it is essential that the material of the UID nameplate shouldn’t affect the functionality of the item.


Durability is one of the significant aspects of UID nameplates. The MIL-STD-130 has made it mandatory that the UID marking of the item should be permanent for the functional lifetime of the item. The nameplates affixed to the parts or the items should remain with it for ever. That is the reason the nameplates are attached to the items with the help of screws, or quality adhesive. Once the items are tagged, they are known with their UID for the rest of their life.


The contractors are required to design the UID nameplates so that the nameplates can withstand the any environmental condition, heat and chemicals. The items are used for different function in different environmental conditions and at different temperature. Sometimes, different chemicals are used for the cleaning process of the items. The UID labels affixed to that particular item should be able to resist these things.

Compliance with MIL-STD-130

For the Department of Defense, the criteria for the UID marking and UID nameplates have been mentioned in the MIL-STD-130 N. according to the standard, the material, marking and the affixing process of the UID nameplates should not affect the item or its functionality. Even, the marking of the UID nameplates should meet the MIL-STD 130 standard. As the UID data are submitted to the UID Registry by the contractors after verification, any deviation from the standard will result in rejection.

UID Data

UID data are the important part of item identification. The data on the UID nameplates should be clear and unambiguous. There are two construct options for marking the UID data. The data on the nameplates are entered in the form of 2D datamatrix codes. The machine readable codes are decoded with the help of barcode readers. There is limitation to the size of the nameplates as well as the data.

UID nameplates are crucial for marking the items with IUID for the use of Department of Defense. However, it is important for the contractors to construct the nameplates that match the MIL-STD-130 standard.

Analyzing Printer Features for IUID Marking

IUID marking plays a critical role in asset management for the Department of Defense. Hence, choosing the right kind of printer for the marking is critical for the contractors and vendors.

IUID marking is the fundamental of IUID asset management process. The contractor or vendors, who use the printers for IUID labels, must pay attention that the IUID markings should meet the DoD requirements. In such a scenario selecting the right kind of printer makes a lot of difference to the IUID marking operation. Although many types of printers are available for the operation, the printer that is feasible for the purpose should have some criteria for quality marking.

Printing Methods

Basically, the thermal printing is done with direct-thermal and thermal-transfer models. The thermal-transfer is a better option for IUID marking as it creates better-quality and long-lasting images on the IUID labels. In the industrial environment and multiple industries the method is being used for its durability.


While selecting the printer for IUID marking, the vendor should ensure that the printer can contain the media sizes required for the labels. It is also important for the vendors that they can supply the UID labels with marking that can resist heat, chemical and abrasion in the correct sizes.

The importance of compatible media can be observed in the long run. With the use of non-optimized media the IUID markings there are risk of the markings getting fade over time or become illegible. The protective coating and label adhesive may not work the incompatible media may also lead to failure of IUID marking.


The Data Matrix symbols of IUID marking require diverse printing operations. Hence, the printer that can produce variable Data Matrix symbol can be more useful. It is important that the vendors should check if the printer is able to meet the UID label output requirements, especially when they use automatic label operators and it requires high volume of printing.

The printer performance also includes print resolution and symbol sizes. Printers with high resolutions are better options for the IUID marking purpose. It is the responsibility of the vendors to ensure that the selected printer can satisfy the specific needs of the organization.

Convenience of Use

The labor and time required for the printing operation is determined by the printer design and operation capabilities. For many DoD contractors, IUID marking is a crucial part of their work assignment. Hence, the printer plays a key role for them and they should judge the reliability and productivity of the printer by analyzing the ease of changing ribbons, loading labels and clearing simple errors. The printer that can minimize the maintenance and management tasks of the system administrators is the best option for IUID marking.

Host Compatibility

For the UID operation of the IUID marking it is important to have host compatibility of the printers. The data for the UID labels are shared for different management purpose with the WAWF application. With the Remote management system the administrator can take advantage of networkable printers for upgrades and troubleshooting.

The printer for IUID marking should have media support, connectivity, and ease of use. Basically, the vendors should choose the printer that can support the IT infrastructure and other operational needs of the organization.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UID Marking Information Required for the Vendors

The vendor information required for submission of data to the UID Registry is defined in the guidelines provided by the Department of Defense. It also provides details of submission of data to the UID registry.

According to the IUID standards and guidelines, the vendors are required to upload certain data into the UID Registry to support the submittal of IUID data. While submitting the items, the data must be included with the shipment notification. The information required to submit data are discussed below.

Necessary Vendor Information

At the time of shipment of the material to the procuring General Dynamic Business Unit, the vendor has to provide the following necessary data for each item or unit that require IUID marking.

1. Vendor Name
2. Gov’t. Contract Number
3. Gov’t. Delivery Order (D.O.) Number
4. GDLS Purchase Order (P.O.) Number
5. Shipment Number (if multiple shipments; e.g., back-ordered item)
6. Ship Date
7. Carrier and Tracking Number
8. Ship-to Address
9. Ship-to Address DoDAAC

The embedded item is marked with its parent end item IUID. As all the items of the Government are not controlled on the basis of batch or lot, the batch number or lot number is not a part of concatenated IUID marking. In case there is a need for the lot number, the GDLS informs the vendors about the requirement with purchase order.

When there is a need for a change in the IUID of the registered item, the additional data included in the IUID marking are original part number, current part number and the current part number effective date.

Vendor Information Required for the Submittal Format

There is a specific format in which the vendor should submit the data to the General Dynamic Business Unit. The required information for the submission is arranged in a tabular format for which Microsoft Excel file is generally preferred. An alternative to the excel sheet format is comma-separate-variable file. Each field is identified with maximum alfa-numeric characters. For the items that require IUID marking, a separate row is used.

Information Provided by GDLS for IUID Marking

The vendors are provided with certain information by the GDLS with the purchase order. The info are

1. Purchase Order Number
2. Gov’t. Contract Number
3. Gov’t. Delivery Order (D.O.) Number
4. Ship-to Address
5. Ship-to Address DoDAAC
6. The items in the GDLS purchased order that require IUID marking should be so identified.

Quality Verification of IUID Marking

An essential part of data submission is the quality verification of the IUID marking as it is required by the IUID standards. The verifications are performed either on a sample basis or on each label. The Government verifies the data in accordance with the Quality Verification records of the IUID. At the time of material shipment, the vendors are required to maintain a said record or provide IUID label Quality Verification reports.

The registration data is the most important part of UID registry submission process. IUID marking of items are crucial for item identification and management of the items. The U.S. Department of Defense has defined the guidelines for the vendors about IUID marking and submittal of required data to the UID Registry. The vendors are required to follow the IUID marking guidelines so that the marking should comply with the IUID standards.

IUID Marking Methods and Verification

The IUID marking for the items involve strategic marking methods and verification procedures before the data are submitted to UID Registry.

According to the Department of Defense, it is mandatory for all the tangible items of the department to have unique identification or IUID. It is the strategic process implemented by the DoD to keep track of the items across the organization. As the IUID is a globally unique identification, proper care and attention is crucial for IUID marking. The MIL-STD-130 has mentioned certain criteria for the contractors and suppliers who apply IUID marking on the military and non-military items.

The MIL-STD-130 is the governing document of DOD for IUID application. The usability of the nameplates in the Department of Defense depends on the accuracy, durability and flexibility of the IUID marking. The IUID of the items are anodized, screen printed, serialized, hot stamped or thermal transferred.

Different Features of IUID Marking

Unless the items of the DoD are labeled with IUID marking, they are not eligible for submission to UID Registry. There are different aspects of IUID marking:

  • Methods of IUID marking
  • IUID verification

IUID Marking Method

There are two kinds of IUID marking- direct part marking and label or nameplates. The items are required to fulfill certain conditions for direct part marking. In case the environment of the items is not appropriate for direct part marking, use of nameplates or label is considered for IUID marking. Generally, polycarbonate/lexan, metalphoto, aluminum, vinyl, polyester or mylar are the materials used for the nameplates and labels. The IUID is directly marked to the items using techniques such as dot-peen, chemical etch, laser etch, and stencil printing. The IUID are marked on the items in the form of 2D data matrix code that are identified by barcode readers.

The IUID of the items are marked or the IUID labels are affixed to the items on a particular location meant for the purpose. The sizes of the nameplates are selected by the manufacturer so as that it can contain all required data mentioned in the MIL-STD-130. The commercial products require information such as part number, serial number and manufacturer’s logo. Enterprise identifier is the additional information that is marked on the parts. Apart from the machine readable 2D data matrix code, the human readable data are also provided during the IUID marking.

IUID Marking Verification

Before submitting the IUID data to the UID Registry, the IUID marking of the items are verified to ensure that they meet the standards of MIL-STD-130.

  • The marking should pass Error Correction Code (ECC) 200
  • The 2D data matrix should be atleast a ‘GradeB’ and should maintain the quality of at least ‘Grade C’over the service life of the marked item.
  • The methodology of print quality measuring is specified in ISO/IEC 16022 and the acceptance of the DoD UID code should have a minimum print quality of B/05/660.

It is important for the IUID marking to use the metal that can withstand adverse weather conditions and chemicals. The data provided in the IUID marking should be as per the requirements of the MIL-STD-130 standards. It is imperative for the contractors and suppliers to follow the guidelines of IUID marking while submitting the data to IUID Registry.