Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MIL-STD-130N Standardization – A Process To Follow

The Department of Defense releases many standards of operation to streamline and make uniform its operations. While many of these are pertinent to very specific organizations and operations within the DoD, one of the most wide-reaching and generally applicable standards is MIL-STD-130N. This updated standard is the regulation by which manufacturers and suppliers of and to the United States military must regulate their identification markings on products. Since MIL-STD-130N has such far-reaching implications, it is important to understand this crucial regulation.

MIL-STD-130N is the latest update to a regulation for identification of products. In 2007, MIL-STD-130N was released as an update to the previous standards. The previous iterations of these regulations were not nearly as exhaustive, and with the release of MIL-STD-130M the DoD sought to comprehensively address labeling procedure for the products in its inventory. MIL-STD-130N builds on and expands the standards and is now in a form that addresses several kinds of identification technology. It also references international standards set forth by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electro technical Commission, or ISO/IEC. The updated standards are a response to both the changing technologies and products involved in identification and the growing task of uniformly identifying and tracking widely diverse products in the massive inventory of the US Military. MIL-STD-130N was issued only two years after its previous iteration, so staying informed of the intricacies of this important standard are crucial to suppliers and manufacturers.

MIL-STD-130N demands that Unique Identification, or UID, marks fit into two categories. The first is MRI, or Machine Readable Information. MRI are forms that are familiar to the average civilian and military employee alike. The first kind of MRI is bar code, which have been in use for decades to consumers on all kinds of goods. The second kind of MRI is a matrix code, which are also common to the civilian market, but may not be as recognizable. The matrix code involves a small square of black and white pixels. These codes are actually quite common on shipping labels of major carriers. These codes are a uniform response to technology of tracking inventory, and make it easy to uniquely identify millions of parts and products.

MIL-STD-130N also allows for HRI, or Human Readable Identification. The HRI addressed in MIL-STD-130N are simply uniformly formatted codes of letters and numbers. They are addressed in the standard as an option because HRI are still effective as long as they are codified.

MIL-STD-130N further regulates the kinds of information that must be contained in MRI or HRI. This includes very specific kinds of information about product description and history. Therefore, it is essential to understand the intricacies of MIL-STD-130N, and no one understands them better than the experts at ID-Integration. With a proven history in UID labeling, let ID-Integration help you fully understand MIL-STD-130N.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IUID Marking Within the Department of Defense

In order to keep track of the wide variety of equipment produced, issued, and possessed by the military, the Department of Defense adheres to an identification standard known as MIL-STD-130N. One of the most important functions of this standard is the notation of requirements for proper IUID marking (Item Unique Identification), which grants every single item its own identity and history. Even items that are identical in production will have a unique number, setting them apart as specific and separate entities. This assigned identification will never be changed, and a suitable IUID marking ensures that this identity remains with the item.

One important set of requirements within the MIL-STD-130N details the appropriate location for applying an IUID marking to a piece of military equipment. First of all, the label must be easily visible and accessible during the item’s normal usage, and should remain so for the entire lifespan of the item. The IUID marking should be placed on a sturdy metal or plastic piece which can be attached to the item or even directly on the item itself when appropriate. This mark must also be sustainable throughout any repairs or cleaning the item might regularly go through. If there is no available space for such an IUID marking to be positioned, one may be placed on the actual packaging of the item.

While some instances allow for a text-based marking which would be readable by a human, the preferred form of IUID marking is the MRI (Machine Readable Information). A standard known as MH10.8.7 is followed when making MRI marks unless a partner association (such as NASA) follows its own marking protocol which is supported by the Department of Defense.

MIL-STD-130N also specifies the particular information which an MRI provides. An IUID marking must contain an EID (Enterprise Identifier) of the issuing organization or activity, a unique serial number, and the PIN (Part or Identifying Number) or batch number of the item.

In order to ensure the proficiency of the MRI system, the Department of Defense additionally denotes certain requirements towards the quality of an IUID marking. The MIL-STD-130N references specific protocols for inspecting the quality of an MRI mark both as a linear bar code and as a data matrix symbol.

Considering both the quantity and nature of the equipment used by the Department of Defense, the necessity of proper identification and tracking of these items is paramount. For this reason, such explicit standards as the MIL-STD-130N are required for the placement, information, and quality of any IUID markings within this system. However, this explanation has only touched the surface of what is clearly a complicated subject, and those seeking further information should turn to the experts at ID-Integration.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Functional Benefits of Direct Part Marking

Direct part marking is growing popular in many industries for its remarkable benefits.

Direct part marking involves marking the item or the part directly on its surface. Unlike the use of UID labels where the nameplates, tags or the labels with the UID codes are affixed or attached to the items, the direct part marking is a method of UID marking that uses different techniques to mark the item or the parts. Mostly preferred by NASA to mark parts of spacecraft, the direct part marking methods are often used in civil industry. Of late, this method is being used in a wide variety of logistics and processing companies to mark the parts and the items. The growing popularity of DPM is due to its numerous advantages and lower implementation cost.

Use and Implementation Results of Direct Part Marking

Generally, the direct part marking is used to mark the subassemblies and components within the automotive, aircraft, armament, electronic, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and medical industry and many other fields. The DPM marking method enhances efficient production management and goods traffic in conjunction with enhanced documentation of these processes. Along with goods traffic the marking method ensures reliable quality and efficiency of marking, better production and dispatch of goods. Apart from simplifying closed monitoring of the marked object starting from their production to withdrawal, direct part marking allows data integration and exchange between seller, manufacturer and career.

Benefits of Direct Part Marking

Direct part marking is popular due to the benefits that it offers. In fact, it provides all benefits of automatic identification technology starting from supporting efficient resource management to eliminating human error and accessing current information on assets. The new techniques of direct part marking is more durable in comparison to traditional labels for the technique allows to encode more information in a small area and the markings can withstand harsh external conditions. There are several other benefits of DPM

Durability of the UID marking is the most prominent benefit of DPM. The new

technologies of DPM help to produce durable codes that can’t be removed, erased and faked.

It allows a large quantity of data to get encoded on a smaller area- upto 3600 characters can be encoded.

The two dimensional barcode marked on the items through direct part marking can be read at any angle.

It is possible to use the DPM marking technology on various materials such as metals, plastic and glass.

It has the ability to eliminate human and machine errors. The 2D data matrix barcode is 20% read correctly even if it is broken.

The durable marking of the items ensures that the all information about the objects can be accessed easily by cracking the codes of the marking. It also helps tracking the items starting from its manufacture and acquisition to maintenance and repairing.

The methods generally have low operation cost; at least the operation is cheaper than traditional methods of using labels.

DPM can be used for marking even item of small size such as electronic subassembly. The data matrix barcode marking doesn’t affects it’s functionally.

DPM improves work efficiency as the object identification and marking is completely automated.

It is a faster implementation marking technology.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

UID Registry Submission Process For the Vendors

Submission to the UID Registry is an important process for the vendors while shipping or delivering the items and the shipment to the DoD.

The contractors or vendors, who ship items to the DoD, are required to include the UID data of the shipment along with the items. The UID data of the items are submitted to the UID Registry by the suppliers or the vendors. According to the UID guidelines and standards, certain data elements about the shipment are mandatory to get uploaded to the data base of the UID Registry. Actually, the UID Registry is a depository of information about the UID data of the DoD items. As the UID programs for the DoD items have been introduced to keep track of the items and enhance the item management program of the DoD, the UID data stored in UID Registry becomes the source of accessing information. Hence, it is essential for the contractors to be careful about the data that they submit for verification.

The Vendor Information Required for Submission to UID Registry

UID Registry contain all required info about the DoD items that are useful to keep record of the item beginning from the production or procurement of the items to their withdrawal. Hence, the vendors need to submit correct data of each shipment that contains items with UII. The required data are Vendor Name, Gov’t. Contract Number, Gov’t. Delivery Order (D.O.) Number, GDLS Purchase Order (P.O.) Number, Shipment Number, Ship Date, Carrier and Tracking Number, Ship-to Address, Ship-to Address DoDAAC. The data required for each UII qualified item in the shipment are GDLS Purchase Order Line Item Number, EIN Issuing Agency Code, Enterprise Identification Number, Original Part Number, Current Part Number, Serial Number, UII Number, UII Type, Parent UII Number, P.O. Unit Price, and attached validation report.

In case the part number of a UID Registered item changes, the data elements that are included along with the UID information are original part number, current part number and effective date of the current part number. The information should be submitted by the vendors to the UID Registry.

The Required Format for Submission to UID Registry

There is a UID Registry maintenance team that receives the UID data from the vendors and requires that data should be entered in a particular format. This format is meant to maintain equilibrium between the documents submitted by various contractors. The vendors are required to follow the particular data while submitting the details. The formats of the data are modified according to the products and the details that are going to be submitted by the vendor. The general format for the document is XML format.

In case the contractors don’t have their document in the required format, they need to change their documents to XML format before being submitted to UID Registry. The external files of the property management database are adjusted and rewritten according to the UID requirements and the UID Registry schema.

The Government has right to inspect the UID data for the quality verification. The vendors are required to produce IUID quality verification reports at the time of material shipment. However, before submitting the UID data to the UID Registry the vendor must register themselves with the UID Registry to obtain access right and login credentials to the UID Registry.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The UID Encoding and Decoding Technologies

UID marking of the items requires specific encoding and decoding technology for its enhanced application and improved UID efficiency.

The unique identifications or UIDs of the items are the globally unique recognitions for the item that distinguishes them from the other items and help the possessor keep track of them. In fact, the unique identification marking is a vital part of any business organization as well as the US Department of Defense. The UID is marked on the item in the form of 2D data matrix barcode symbol which is etched on part on a square grid. The marking is either directly engraved on the item or affixed to the part as UID labels or nameplates. However, it is essential that the marking should be permanent for the lifetime of the item.

For the UID to be considered as DoD equivalent, there are certain important criteria for the commercial identifiers

The UID must contain an enterprise identifier

It must uniquely identify an individual item along with product and part number and enterprise identifier.

It should have AI and DI listed in data identifier and application identifier standard and American National Standard.

The Methods of UID Construction

The MIL-STD-130 has stated two recognized methods of UID construction for the items. The contractors or suppliers will have to select the most appropriate method considering the application.

Construct # 1, with serialization within the enterprise identifier,

Construct # 2, with serialization within the lot number or batch number and original part number, lot number or batch number

The application of construction method is decided depending on the manufacturing process.

With construction #1 the UID is created with the help of unique serial number which is added to the item following the enterprise identification which may be a DUNS, CAGE/NCAGE, or EAN.UCC number. The concatenated UID of the items will get a proper Issuing Identity Code if the appropriate data qualifier is applied before the enterprise identification. However, it doesn’t need the data matrix marking with IAC.

The construction #2 of the UID is also developed with enterprise identification. However, for a complete UID, it requires some of the other data such as original part number, lot number, or batch number, and the serial number along with it.

The existing part number is an additional data element of the item, but not a part of the UID.

The Methods of Identifying the UID Marking

The data elements of the UID are engraved on the part or the UID label in the form of 2D data matrix barcode and they decoded with the help of barcode scanner or automated reader. As the UID is derived from its data elements, the barcode scanners identify each data element while decoding the UID. The data elements are introduced to the scanner along with their prefixes at the time of reading the data matrix code. In the commercial use the data qualifiers prefixes are used in the form of alphanumeric Data Identifiers; (DI), numeric Application Identifiers (AI), or alpha; or Text Element Identifiers (TEI).

The human readable 2D data matrix code is encoded and decoded using Automated Identification Technology (AIT). The technology has significantly enhanced the barcode efficiency.