Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TegoView streamlines ATA Spec 2000 RFID compliance

The Air Transport Association’s Spec 2000 standards call for labeling of aircraft parts so they can be tracked throughout their lifetime. RFID is an increasingly popular method of doing this, as the tags can be read with an automated reader without a direct line of site to the tag. The tags are durable and can withstand a range of environments. In addition, RFID tags are available with different amounts of memory. The high-memory tags in particular are able to contain more information than other types of labels. ATA Spec 2000 contains a number of details that must be followed in using these RFID systems, including entering specified data onto the tag in a prescribed format.

TegoView software can help simplify ATA Spec 2000 RFID compliance. In fact, Tego worked with other aerospace industry leaders to help develop ATA Spec 2000 RFID standards.

TegoView software works with a wide range of RFID readers including hand-held models. The software can be used from the very first step in the RFID tagging process. Even before the tag is affixed to the part, TegoView will record the part’s “birth record” onto the tag — information known at the time of the part’s manufacture. Later, maintenance updates can be written to the tag. Part information can be read and recorded in the field using a hand-held RFID reader equipped with TegoView — a network connection is not required. Yet TegoView can also be integrated into existing data systems.

Saving money, improving efficiency
The need for expensive “middleware” software is eliminated with TegoView. And because maintenance crews have immediate access to detailed part history, decisions about the part can be made quickly, which also saves time and money for an organization. For airlines, flight delays may be reduced and customer satisfaction increased.

TegoView software can report changes in a part’s condition, modification to the part, change in custody and removal from service. It can also indicate how much of a tag’s memory has been used and how much is still available. Parts can be searched for and located using information from their history. Another TegoView benefit is that the software can generate pre-configured automated reports. Built-in diagnostic features are also provided.

RFID solutions that incorporate TegoView lead to better asset management and lower inventory costs. Maintenance and repair is streamlined and less costly. And at the same time, Spec 2000 requirements are met much more easily.

IUID standards have common purpose

NATO’s ability to bring together the military forces of its 28 member countries to achieve a common goal is extremely powerful. There are, of course, a number of challenges when it comes to joining many disparate organizations to work together. One area where this becomes apparent is in the sharing of defense equipment. It can be difficult for just one defense department to keep track of all its assets, which may have lifetimes of decades and are spread among worldwide operations. Loaning the equipment to other organizations adds an additional layer of complexity.

Defense departments are turning to unique identification of items (IUID) to help solve the problem of tracking assets. Equipment that has a certain value and/or is considered mission critical receives an identifier that is globally unique and remains with the item for its entire life. Governments have developed standards that apply to all aspects of IUID labeling. In the U.S., the standard is MIL-STD-130; the U.K. has DEF STAN 05-132.

NATO has issued its own standards to bring even more consistency to IUID systems. The organization has released the Allied Unique Identification of Items Publication, or AUIDP-1, and an associated document, STANAG 2290. Individual defense departments refer to the NATO standards when developing their own IUID standards.

Topics covered by IUID standards such as MIL-STD-130, DEF STAN 05-132 and STANAG 2290 include what information to include in an item’s unique identifier and how the information should be formatted. The identifier is encoded in a 2D Data Matrix symbol that is either applied directly to the item or attached via a label or plate. The symbol is read using an IUID scanner. It’s crucial that departments use the same identifier format so the information can be read and interpreted by all users.
The standards address the appropriate size of the Data Matrix symbol and where it should be placed on the item it is identifying. There are also methods spelled out for verification of the data matrix symbol, to ensure it is readable.

The similar, but not identical standards for IUID labeling, along with the complexity of each, can be confusing for a contractor supplying equipment to a defense department. Consulting with a company that is an expert in this field may help. For example, ID-Integration Inc. has more than 12 years of experience in IUID systems and is well-versed in the various standards including DEF STAN 05-132 and STANAG 2290. For more information, visit

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NATO standards bring consistency to UID systems

Government defense departments have found many benefits of implementing Unique Identification (UID) systems for their mission-critical inventory. With UID, each piece of equipment is marked with a Unique Item Identifier (UII) in the form of a 2D Data Matrix symbol. The UII, which is read with an automated device, is then used to track the item throughout its lifetime.

For the U.S. Department of Defense, for example, the UID system is intended to improve management of a massive inventory that is spread across the globe. Not losing track of assets prevents unnecessary reordering of equipment and saves taxpayer money. Better tracking also improves the department’s combat readiness.
The British Ministry of Defence operates a similar UID program. Standards for the U.S. DoD program are spelled out in a document called MIL-STD-130; the British Ministry of Defence has a similar document labeled DEF STAN 05-132.

The picture becomes even more complex when different defense organizations are working together and sharing assets. To address this issue, NATO has developed its own standards for unique identification of equipment. The Allied Unique Identification of Items Publication, or AUIDP-1, was developed by a NATO task force and details the recommended methods to identify and mark items through Unique Item Identifiers and enter the data into a registry system. Doing so will improve “asset visibility, data exchange, and multi-national logistics operations,” AUIDP-1 states. More specifics are contained in a NATO Standardization Agreement, STANAG 2290.

When individual defense departments align their own UID standards, such as DEF STAN 05-132, with those of NATO, a cohesive system is created. This improves the efficiency of operations, and most importantly, enhances safety. Equipment can be located more quickly and moved to where it is needed. An item’s unique identifier can be linked to the item’s repair history and whether recommended maintenance has been performed. The use of automated systems cuts down on the amount of manual data entry, which leads to fewer mistakes.

The ability to share information about an item among organizations is a major benefit of utilizing UID systems. AUIDP-1 discusses the need for compatible information systems in order to share data. UID documents such as DEF STAN 05-132 go into extensive detail on how to implement a UID system. Topics covered include what information to include in the UII, the proper syntax to use, how to mark the 2D Data Matrix symbol and equipment, and specifications for human readable information that may accompany the symbol.
More information on various UID standards can be found at

UID standards delve into all the details

Imagine dozens of defense departments trying to determine what military equipment is available to share and where it is located. This is a challenge faced by NATO and its 28 member countries.

To address this challenge, NATO has turned to the Unique Identification of Items, or UID, system for labeling and tracking mission-critical equipment. Items are labeled with a 2D Data Matrix symbol that contains a Unique Item Identifier (UII). An automated scanner is used to read the Data Matrix and retrieve an item’s identifier. The UII is entered into a registry, which can contain other critical details about the item such as its repair and maintenance history and warranty information. The idea behind UID is that the information for any piece of equipment can be quickly retrieved and easily shared. With UID, any individual item can be readily distinguished from all others, throughout its entire lifetime.

To bring consistency to the process, NATO has developed standards regarding UID systems. In particular, there is the Allied Unique Identification of Items Publication, or AIDP-1. A related document is NATO’s standardization agreement, STANAG 2290, which is intended to serve as the basis for implementation plans. Individual defense departments may have their own UID standards, such as the British Defence Ministry’s DEF STD 05-132, which incorporate the STANAG 2290 requirements.

Although individual DoD standards may be quite similar to STANAG 2290, they’re not necessarily identical. For example, the NATO standard allows the Issuing Agency Code to be included in the UID Data Matrix symbol, but DEF STD 05-132 discourages that practice because the information can be derived from another data field, the Enterprise Identifier.

Down-to-the-dot explanation

Suppliers and others working in the defense industry can find detailed specifications for UID systems in the various government documents. The standards specify minimum cell sizes for different methods of Data Matrix marking, including dot peen, laser and electro-chemical etching.

If text (also referred to as “human readable information) is to accompany the Data Matrix symbol, DEF STD 05-132 says it should be to the left of the symbol and list the item descriptor, NATO stock number and serial number. The NATO document states that a UII should contain only uppercase letters A through Z, numbers 0 through 9, the hyphen and the slash. The use of the letters I, L, O and Q is discouraged.
Information included on labels should contrast strongly with the background. The labeling method should not damage the equipment. The labels should be designed to last the life of the equipment.

For more information on UID standards, visit

Attention to detail needed when implementing UID systems

Marking defense assets with unique identifiers that can be used to track the items throughout their lifetime is a straightforward concept. But when it comes to implementing Unique Identification of Items according to NATO standards, one must pay attention to numerous details. Many of these specifics can be found in two documents: AUIDP-1 (Allied Unique Identification of Items Publication) and a Standardization Agreement, STANAG 2290.

Benefits of UID

Unique Identification of Items (UID) is a standardized method for giving items a unique identifier that stays with them throughout their life. It’s useful for tracking ownership and location of an asset, which may be in use, in storage or in transit. AUIDP-1 also notes that UID can provide details of an asset’s age, condition, configuration, maintenance and repair history, and warranty status.

UID utilizes the 2D Data Matrix symbol for labeling items. The label is read with an automated device and provides a common format for storing and retrieving information among many different users. Errors are reduced as compared to manual data entry and the process is streamlined.

When to use UID

Implementing UID makes the most sense for items that are newly purchased. In that case, the benefits of UID will be realized throughout the item’s entire life for a greater return on investment. Items that are already in inventory might also be good UID candidates if their remaining life is substantial. Other factors to weigh include whether the item has significant value; is repairable; requires calibration or confirmation of disposal; or is mission critical.

Preferred UID methods

The Unique Item Identifier, or UII, assigned to an item must not change over the item’s life, even if other identifiers such as the part number change. It must be globally unique and cannot be reused, even if the item it’s attached to is disposed of.

Data associated with the UII is entered into a registry. Annex 6 of AUIDP-1 lists the recommended data elements to include. Some of these are: Unique Item Identifier; type of item (either end item or embedded item); whether it’s marked using UID Construct 1 or Construct 2; part number; serial number; batch or lot; description; and issuing agency code.

Methods for marking items include direct marking using laser, electro-chemical etching or dot peen indenting. STANAG 2290 contains standards for minimum cell sizes and quality levels for the various methods. The label should last for the expected life of the item, STANAG 2290 notes.

For further information, see

Monday, March 11, 2013

RFID Tagging of Aviation Parts Doesn’t Need to be Complicated

Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, has revolutionized the labeling of flyable parts used in the aerospace industry. Like barcodes or 2-D Data Matrix labels, RFID tags are permanent identification markers that are read with an automated device, and stay with the part throughout its life. This is especially important for aircraft parts, which are always on the move and may have a lifespan of decades.

But RFID tags offer a number of advantages over barcodes and Data Matrix for labeling aircraft parts. Because they use radio waves, a direct line of sight is not required to read RFID tags. So, for example, someone can read RFID tags on aircraft life vests kept in under seat storage without removing each individual life vest and finding its tag. Reading devices can typically read multiple RFID tags simultaneously. This increases efficiency and saves time and money. In the example of checking all life vests aboard an aircraft, RFID tags reduce the time it takes to complete the task from hours to minutes.

Another advantage of RFID tags is that they can store substantially more information than barcodes. The tags will contain at minimum the part’s, “birth record,” — information available at the time the part is manufactured, including the component’s manufacturer, when it was made, part number, and serial number.

RFID tags can also store the part’s maintenance and repair history. While more expensive high-memory RFID tags are needed for this purpose, the extra expense is often worthwhile, as having the part’s maintenance records available with the part whenever it’s needed is a huge plus for anyone servicing the component.

Software helps meet ATA Spec 2000 RFID requirements

The Air Transport Association’s Spec 2000 standards include a specific format for information on RFID tags. Following the format doesn’t have to be a headache if one uses software designed for this purpose.

TegoView Software is fully compatible with ATA Spec 2000 RFID requirements for organizing tag data.

TegoView Software, which runs on standard RFID readers, makes it easy for users to initialize tags, write information to memory and display tag data in a user-friendly format. TegoView Software has additional benefits. A network connection isn’t required to run the software, making it ideal for use in the field. Records can be synchronized later when a network connection is available. A worker trying to find a part can use TegoView to locate it using tag information such as part number or warranty date — and then access the part’s complete history. TegoView also offers an option for storing graphics files on the tags for later retrieval.

A good source for more information on ATA Spec 2000 RFID is