Monday, July 12, 2010

UID Marking Basics: Creating and Reading MIL-STD-130 Compliant Labels

In order for the US Department of Defense (DoD) to track vast amounts expensive equipment, it has mandated the standard UID marking criteria MIL-STD-130N; specifically section 252.211-7003 entitled “Item Identification and Valuation” [1]. The specifications for this standard stipulate detailed criteria that industry developers and DoD suppliers must follow when labeling products. The DoD dictates these criteria for labeling everything from ammunition to parts for rocket motors.

The standard specifies that all physical property and equipment of a certain monetary value must be marked with compliant Unique Identifier (UID) labels. UID marking components consists of a succession of bits, a series of characters, or a unique number to distinguish equipment from other gear much like a serial number. Each UID can be used no more than once within one project or scope [2]. A variation of UID marking technology is used by the shipping companies UPS and FedEx. These companies use a 2D data matrix label to track shipments (you may have noticed the grid-style label on a package; it resembles a newspaper crossword puzzle).

US Military personnel and contractors utilize DoD equipment that is subject to UID marking standards. The equipment must be inventoried and audited at regular intervals to ensure DoD capabilities and readiness. While it is possible to read UID labels with sub-par equipment, prudent users turn to DoD-certified UID label readers and scanners to automate the reading of UID labels.

To meet the rigorous criteria of MIL-STD-130N, equipment manufacturers must deploy the most reliable and advanced UID marking and UID scanning technology available. The UID marking process for nameplates can include methods such as ink jet, laser etching, or even dot-peen [3]. It is imperative to manufacture nameplates with quality UID marking equipment. It is also important to employ durable and versatile label scanners. Equipment manufacturers must also use only the best UID marking equipment available to ensure long-lasting and durable labels. Today there are a few US companies manufacturing UID marking and scanning equipment. When choosing a manufacturer one must take multiple variables into consideration. For any questions or expert advice, visit ID-Integration at

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