Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Successful UID Marking

It is a necessary evil that all products manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense possess a permanent UID mark. Any business wishing to sell products to the US Military will be required to implement UID Marking throughout their production processes. Although the world of Mil Spec 130 places complex and stringent requirements on UID Marking, there are some tips and tricks that may make the specification’s adoption easier to your business practices.

Stay Current on DoD Developments

Be sure to spend time staying on top of recent developments to Mil Spec 130 standards. Read recent articles in trade publications, industry associations, and online publications to find emerging information that may affect UID Marking processes. Many industry associations have a number of experienced professionals as members and administration. These general resources will be sure to address Department of Defense questions. Some helpful associations include the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).

Know Popular Marking & Coding Solutions

Learn the basics of marking and coding to make the smartest decisions possible for your product’s production. If you’re still using a manual process for UID Marking, then become more educated on the automated possibilities that have been field proven for years. Start with the product that will be receiving a UID mark. Consider its composition, size, and manufacturing process then determine which marking technology will provide the best solution for you.

Some basics to consider here include taking a closer look at inkjet and laser technology. Both of these innovative technologies enable marking, on-the-fly, right in your production line. Instead of completing UID Marking at a separate station, you can simply have this function completed as a regular part of your product’s production flow. Are you spending money on separate labels or tags that must be permanently attached to the final product? If you are, then consider reducing costs by choosing a marking process that permits UID Marking directly onto the part itself.

UID Marking Message Formats

There are hundreds upon hundreds of requirements for Mil Spec 130 UID Marking nomenclature. In Mil Spec 130, the DoD specifies everything from accepted acronyms or abbreviations to machine readable code languages and durability requirements. Become familiar with newer bar code languages like Data Matrix to fit volumes of information in a tiny space. Staying savvy of your UID Marking options will assist you when considering your applications challenges and needs.

Overall, UID Marking is pretty serious business and successful execution is vital for projects with the U.S. Department of Defense. If you’re looking for an expert to guide you through this process, you can rely on ID Integration to see you to the top.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Frequently asked questions on DoD UID Labels

What is a UID?
A UID is better known as a Unique Identifier that is used to track the manufacture, distribution, and lifetime of products used by the U.S. Department of Defense. All contracted vendors are required to provide a legible and permanent UID marking on products sold to the DoD.

What materials are best used for labels meeting DoD UID requirements?
There is not a specific material specified in Mil-Std-130 guidelines, but all must meet durability requirements and contain the full UID information as well as linear bar codes and data matrix codes when space permits. Choices for label material include coated plastics, metals, and decals that may be attached directly to the manufactured product. It is wise to ask for a Certificate of Conformance from label vendors to ensure liability will not fall on the purchaser in the event that materials do not hold up to the stringent requirements of Mil-Std-130.

How can I be sure that marks will meet readability requirements of a Grade B minimum?
It is important to test all DoD UID labels prior to implementing them in the final production process. Any vendors that are responsible for supplying printed DoD UID labels should be able to supply a Certificate of Conformance (COC) as well as rated grades of marks at the time of label manufacture. These practices will permit manufacturing plants the surety necessary to meet Mil-Std-130 requirements in all cases.

What specific information is required on DoD UID Labels?
Manufacturers are required to print an enterprise ID, part number, and serial number with data qualifiers as a minimum to meet Mil-Std-130 standards. Additionally, the DoD requires linear bar codes and data matrix codes when space permits inclusion. Some products require a data matrix code regardless of size constraints so it is very important to stay on top of the government documentation for DoD UID labels.

Can I use my company’s terminology on DoD UID Labels?
No. The U.S. Department of Defense lists specific accepted acronyms and abbreviations for use in DoD UID labeling. Failure to comply to the DoD accepted terminology will result in the rejection of product and eventual loss of contracted projects. In special cases where new language may be necessary, the nomenclature should be determined in the contract stage prior to product manufacture and delivery. Special exceptions will be permitted as deemed necessary in these cases.

Where can I find help to sort through DoD UID Label specifications?
There are a large number of resources available on the internet to help you learn more about Mil-Std-130 and its DoD UID Labels. For expert assistance, consider contacting a full service integrator like ID Integration for support throughout your DoD UID label development.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Brief Guide to Mil Spec 130

Does your identification process meet Mil Spec 130 guidelines? There are many resources available to learn more about the Department of Defense’s, identification requirements. If your company is manufacturing products for the DoD, then you’ll need to become savvy in the details of Mil Spec 130. To accomplish this, you may review the referenced documents throughout this article. Another recommended course of action is to employ a team of experts for your identification management. This eliminates the need to review and take to heart, the 85-page, “DoD Guide to Uniquely Identifying Items.”

The basics of the Department of Defense’s Mil Spec 130 require permanent marking of a machine-readable code with additional manufacturing details that link the parts’ purpose and lifetime to the original manufacturer. Part identification should also track modifications made along the way. There are many methods of acceptable marking and expert advice would provide the most efficient means of technology. If you can get past the acronyms, the Department of Defense’s, “UID Breakout Session,” describes process details on Unique Item Identifiers’.

There are many details to the nomenclature and format of marks fulfilling Mil Spec 130. Additionally, Mil Spec 130 requires mark longevity for the lifetime of the product, or until the product will be replaced through regular cycles. The Department of Defense also has some preference for emerging marking technologies such as RFID, Industrial Inkjet, Thermal Transfer, and Laser printing systems.

The devil is in the details of Mil Spec 130. Non-adherence to DoD requirements will result in the rejection of your product. To avoid failure and implement identification efficiently, you may rely on ID-Integration’s experience to guide your business to success. We provide complete and custom integration that meets government requirements.

It’s true that there are literally hundreds of identification companies in today’s marketplace. Searching this industry will turn up a long list of bar code scanner, RFID, and industrial printing manufacturers as well as independent consultants, integrators, or distributors of identification products. To fully understand Mil Spec 130 requirements and increase revenue through new military applications you will need to work with a company that integrates, sells, and maintains customized identification systems. Instead of buying from separate vendors – you will find everything you need with ID Integration.

Mil Spec 130 will require you to become proficient in all marking and reading technologies. ID-Integration has the experience and innovation to help you succeed in this challenging industry. Partner with the experts on Mil Spec 130 and more by learning more about us at www.id-integration.com. Our extensive knowledge and experience will guide you through the most challenging military applications, while working with your business staff to find solutions that perfectly match your business operations and goals.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Basics of MIL-STD-130N

MIL-STD-130N may stand for military standard number 130 section N, but if the name suggests unnecessary complexity, the body of the MIL-STD-130N will exceed expectations. MIL-STD-130N is a five page document developed by the Department of Defense which goes into extraordinary depth about the nature and content of labels and markings on items ranging from boxes of Cheerios to stocks of M16 rifles. Actually, M16 rifle wouldn't be nearly specific enough to qualify as an acceptable IUID (Item Unique Identification) by the standards of MIL-STD-130N. These labels apply to anything that might pass through anybody administered by the Department of Defense, or nearly everything.
The nature of tags, plates, labels, and bands, according to MIL-STD-130N, should be hard plastic of metal, preferably with MRI, or Machine Readable Information, marked clearly in an easily accessible location. Additionally, the tag, plate, label, or band will need a slew of numbers, including but not limited to lot numbers, batch numbers, PINs, and UIIs (Unique Item Identifiers) so that the Department of Defense can tell one widgit from a different widgit of the exact same type. For items too small to contain a reasonable MRI or proper IUID (Item Unique Identification), there are specific and copious rules on how small the writing can be, exactly what information to put at the minimum, and where to put information if it just won't fit.
In the MIL-STD-130N document, this summary has covered about a page and a half. In the following three and a half pages, MIL-STD-130N continues in excruciating detail about individual organizations with independent marking systems and whether these systems constitute an appropriate IUID and if not how they can be made to conform. Most people would probably be better off visiting the good folks at ID-Integration, who will help with all of this kind of stuff.