Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What is a UID?

A UID is a Unique Identifier found on every product used by the Department of Defense, (DoD). This is not an uncommon practice in good manufacturing plants. Tracking the development, distribution, and lifetime of a product allows for data collection that will help companies, both manufacturers and end customers, to improve their production processes long-term. In some cases, this UID may provide information that is vital for safety in regards to defective product recalls, poor durability trends, or more – especially when concerning a DoD project.

The basic components of a UID meeting Mil Spec 130 guidelines includes a manufacturer to mark a unique identifier on every product that is truly unique and only traceable to that original item. This mark must be permanent and able to sustain handling and weathering throughout the lifetime of the product. Additional information is also desired including production components like lot and batch numbers, manufacturing location, modifications, and more.

There are a great number of ways to implement a system for marking a UID on all manufactured items. These range from programmable indenting, inkjet, and laser to manual methods such as stamping, stenciling, and acid etching. Each UID marking method brings unique advantages to the manufacturing process enabling more automated technologies to fit right into the production line with the potential to increase overall production line efficiency.

If you’re looking to lower costs, you may wish to consider using a solution that relies on fewer consumables. Laser marking technologies are a greener choice for many companies looking to mark a UID without the concerns of the common VOC pollution associated with heavy duty inkjet inks. Because the laser beam literally etches a tiny portion of the product’s surface, it is not necessary to use expensive inks. Marking directly onto a product and avoiding costly labels or tags may also be achieve with inkjet solutions.

Perhaps you’re cramped for space when considering a UID mark. Options here include attached tags, or simply marking directly on the product’s surface. Data matrix bar coding can fit a large amount of data into a very compact space as well. So it’s important to consider both the technology behind the mark and the UID mark content itself when planning your UID solution.

For more information on the details of UID, perform a simple search on the web. There are a large number of resources available to assist you. Mil Spec 130 is a tough standard to follow and in many cases, it may be in your best interest to partner with a company of experts in this field. If you’re looking for some help in sifting through the details on UID marking, contact ID Integration for a full service, custom approach to your production process.

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