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 www.id-integration.com.