Unique Identification (UID) is a set of unique data for tangible assets. The program was initiated by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a solution to stay in better compliance with the Chief Financial Officers’ Act of 1990. Every product that has been manufactured or distributed for use by the government – whether private or commercial – has a unique identification tag. The objective of the program is simple: Serialize production and maintain each asset. This identification includes a barcode, which requires a UID compliant scanner to read, verify, and record the barcode’s information, and assists in tracking a product, part, or other physical asset over time.
This process was introduced by the Department of Defense as a preventive measure to improve organization and decrease duplication, misuse, and loss of products. All compliance protocols are documented in MIL SPEC 130, which also covers regulations related to procurement of a manufacturer’s license, product quality, and valuation standards, as well as the proper procedures for recording statistical data.
According to MIL SPEC 130, the plan was designed to maintain an official record of production data with the government for better accessibility and tracing. The system, however, does have some limitations. Not all products are required to be included in the program. Only those that qualify under the UID standards need be registered with a unique identification number.
MIL SPEC 130 also specifies manufacturing procedures, techniques to encode an item with its identification number, and other logistical information. The information on the label is provided in human readable format along with a data matrix barcode readable by a special scanner. The scanner’s software is programmed to verify the number code and record statistics in an organized manner.
All essential information needed to comply with the program is included in the protocol manual, including data printing type, label placement, technology to be used, and so on. For example, the manual states that RFID, thermal transfer, laser printing, dot peen, and chemical etching are the preferred choices for the permanent markings – dependent on the material to be marked.
The importance of durability in all products with UID labels is of prime concern. If the numbers are not placed correctly, or there is faulty printing, damage is likely to occur leading to inaccurate or incomplete data collection. Therefore, it is imperative that a manufacturer thoroughly understand and comply with the UID regulations as specified in the protocol mandate.
To better understand the compliance standards, reference ID Integration Inc.’s informative online articles at www.id-integration.com.