Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Understanding MIL-STD-130

In December of 2007, the Department of Defense released an update to MIL-STD-130, the regulation governing the proper labeling of items in the military's inventory. This important set of standards ensures the efficient tracking and cataloging of every product and piece of equipment belonging to the United States government. By understanding a little background of this standard, you can ensure compliance with this important governing regulation.

First, it is important to understand that this regulation is constantly updated. Though the latest version of MIL-STD-130 was released on 17 December 2007, the previous version was released only two years earlier. This reflects the response of the Department of Defense to new technology, so understanding the emphasis and reasoning behind MIL-STD-130 is important to be prepared for its next iteration.

MIL-STD-130 is a specification of standardization already happening in the global marketplace. The regulation builds upon, and at times uses, standards and requirements from the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, and the International Electro technical Commission, or IEC. The ISO/IEC guidelines help streamline and codify the unique labeling of all products, and MIL-STD-130 goes further to customize these standards for its own use. This reflects a realization by the DoD that rigorous standards are necessary now to ensure organization of millions of items in the future. MIL-STD-130 represents the continuing effort to incorporate this thinking into its procurement process.

Though MIL-STD-130 is demanding, it is also accommodating. The most recent update, called MIL-STD-130N, allows for several technologies to be employed in the process of marking items with a Unique Identification code, or UID. The first is a more traditional UID nameplate that meets specific criteria in text and location in order to organize items in the inventory. The second kind of UID marking is Machine Readable Identification, or MRI. There are two major kinds of MRI: barcode and data matrix. Barcodes are familiar to most consumers today, as they are present on just about all kinds of goods. Data matrix labels are used most recognizably by shipping companies, and these matrices hold a multitude of information as well. They use a square field of smaller black and white squares to code information.

For suppliers, understanding the technology and the code of the UID labels is essential to compliance. First, suppliers must allow for space for the various kinds of UID markings, since readability is a requirement of MIL-STD-130. Additionally, the Part Identification Number, or PIN, of a product must be considered to allow easy integration into the standards of MIL-STD-130.

Understanding MIL-STD-130 requires familiarity and experience with its implementation. ID-Integration is a leader in this field, having created various kinds of UID labels for use in DoD applications. The basics are important to understand, but the specifics of MIL-STD-130 are essential, and no one knows them better than ID-Integration.

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