For manufacturers of military equipment, complying with Unique Identification requirements is a multi-step process. And each step takes more time — and potentially costs more money — for the defense contractor. At the same time, businesses that specialize in UID systems are coming up with more products and services that can streamline the process for defense contractors and help ensure they’re compliant with DoD rules.
The first step in complying with the UID requirements is to familiarize oneself with the rules, which are spelled out in the DoD’s MIL-STD-130. The concept is that each item of equipment is marked with a unique identifier, which is encoded in a 2-D Data Matrix symbol. This makes it easier for the military to track the equipment throughout its lifetime, improving inventory management.
Next the contractor must decide how to place the Data Matrix symbol on the equipment. There are direct and indirect marking methods; each has advantages and disadvantages. With indirect marking, a label containing the identifier is attached to the equipment. The labels can be produced in large quantities, saving time and money. Direct marking is required when a label might throw a piece of equipment off-balance (when high-speed rotation is involved, for example) or if the label could cause the equipment to fail if it fell off. Direct marking methods include chemical etching, laser engraving and dot peening. For indirect marking, the label material must be selected — aluminum, stainless steel, and various fabrics are among the choices — as well as the method of attachment. Jet City Laser Inc. (www.UID2Go.com) is a company that works with direct and indirect labeling and can offer advice on the best method to use.
Another step in the Unique Identification process is checking the quality of the Data Matrix symbol through UID verification. Simply scanning the symbol to see if it’s machine-readable isn’t enough; MIL-STD-130 includes a set of criteria for grading the symbol. UID verification helps ensure that the marking will be readable in the long-term and under various conditions. Jet City’s partner, ID Integration Inc., now sells a hand-held device for UID verification. This makes it easier to verify the identifier symbol on large machinery that’s in the warehouse or out in the field.
Finally, the identifier information needs to be entered into the DoD’s central registry. Jet City Laser offers a product called UID2Register that submits the data directly to the registry via a workstation. This avoids the headaches of submitting the information manually online.
Mike Young manages plant operations in Kent, Ohio. Voted a favorite manager by employees, Young leads by example, always looking for ways to improve quality as well as the company’s bottom line. Young closely follows UID2Go.com for the latest trends in UID labeling. This whirlwind of activity is always on the go, running, playing sports or watching football.
New products help meet UID requirements