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 www.id-integration.com.