Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The facts about MIL-STD-130: Understanding UID Labels

The December update of MIL-STD-130 outlines the essentials of marking military property. While there are many technical aspects of this standard, it is important to first understand the basics of this important mandate. There are a few key aspects of the standard, and understanding the basics is essential to complying with the standard. These simple questions and answers below will give you a comprehensive introduction to using unique identification, or UID labels, for military use.

Who needs to be able to read these UID labels?
Either machines or humans need to be able to read the UID label. The easiest way to determine which should be used is the lifespan of the item. If a machine readable information, or MRI, label can be used that will last as long as the item it labels, then an MRI should be used. If not, a durable marking of lasting material should be used.

What should be on these UID labels, and where should they be located?
Ideally, all of the required information should be listed on a UID label, but there are a few essential pieces of information that must be on each label. First, the label requires an Enterprise Identifier, or a code that identifies the organization of the manufacturer or supplier. Second, the part must be identifiable through a Part or Identification code, or PIN.

For MRI, more information can be encoded in smaller space, so more information is required for these kinds of labels. In addition to the above requirements, an MRI should contain information about an item's history like UID label changes. Consult the standard to be sure the MRI is complete.

The label should be easy to read in normal operation, but should also be in a location that is not subject to wear during the life of the item. If absolutely necessary, a UID label can be put on the packaging of an item.

What should these UID labels look like?
For labels readable by humans, there are specific guidelines to maintain a standard of readability. First, the text of the UID labels must be at least 0.2 cm/ 0.08 in/ 5.76 points. This text should be in a simple sans-serif font, or font with no terminators (for example, there should be no lines at the base of a capital letter A), and numbers should be Arabic.

For MRI labels, MIL-STD-130 references specific standards for linear bar codes and data matrix labels. The International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission reference these two formats in ISO/IEC 15416 and 15415, respectively. Consult these two standards to be sure the MRI meets the appropriate description.

As you can see, MIL-STD-130 is both simple and complicated. There are basics that are essential for any UID label, but there are also important details to ensure compliance with this standard. The experts at ID-Integration have proven experience in UID labels and can answer any questions you have about MIL-STD-130. Be sure to understand these basics and consult the experts at ID-Integration.

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