If you’re new to doing business with the Department of Defense, a vital lesson to learn upfront is there are very specific requirements that you, as a contractor, are required to comply with to fulfill your contract and receive compensation. Failure to comply with the smallest specification can result in rejected shipments and delayed payments, which could cause major headaches for your business.
An example of these requirements that frequently cause DoD contractors trouble are the two labeling standards MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N. These DoD-approved standards outline a set of directions for labeling and tracking the shipping of requisitioned supplies and equipment, as well as marking items purchased by the DoD (including text formatting, syntax rules, and where markings should be located).
Before you begin work on your DoD contract, here’s what you need to know about MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N.
The current incarnation of this standard, R, is an update to MIL-STD-129 that was made in 2014. MIL-STD-129R replaces linear barcodes on identification labels with machine-readable PDF417 barcode symbols that allow the use of UID labeling (which can be up to 50 characters long – too long for a traditional, linear barcode). This allows large amounts of data to be securely stored on a 2D shipping label. DoD and defense contractors can scan these barcodes automatically, greatly simplifying asset management and tracking.
The Defense Logistics Agency has created a checklist of 10 key components that must be present, in order, on the shipping label to be compliant with MIL-STD-129R standards. They are as follows:
- NSN/NATO stock number
- CAGE code
- Part Number (identified as PN or P/N)
- Item description and nomenclature, exactly as it appears on the contract, purchase order, or requisition
- Quantity and UI
- Contract number or purchase order number
- Military preservation method and date of unit preservation, if applicable
- Shelf-life markings, if applicable
- Serial number(s), preceded by the abbreviation SER NO
- Barcode markings, including NSN and CAGE, if required 2D (PDF417), and serial number
With so many inputs needed, the process of creating MIL-STD-129 obviously has many opportunities to go wrong, resulting in shipping mix-ups, delayed payments, possible non-compliance penalties, and damage your credibility as a preferred vendor.
After World War II, the organization that would eventually become the Department of Defense created Federal Stock Numbers to facilitate inventory control. These FSNs were 11-digit identifier codes that acted as unique identifiers to military assets. This method was further refined several years later with the Defense Cataloging and Standardization Act, which mandated a single catalogue system for the DoD. The system was successful. To make it official, the DoD published MIL-STD-130N in 1953 to require the uniform application of identification labels to military properties, providing a set of directions for proper marking of items purchased by the DoD.
The most recent update to this standard, referred to as Change 1, occurred in 2012 and established the UID unique identifier data matrix requirement to allow for easier automated data capture. This unique identifier follows an asset throughout its entire lifecycle for easier tracking. This system greatly enhances inventory control and visibility. However, like MIL-STD-129R, the asset marking requirements set forth in MIL-STD-130N can be complex and difficult to manage.
What you need to know about managing these requirements
Managing MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N means reducing errors, and the key to reducing errors is limiting the opportunity for them to occur. If your current operations involve a great amount of manual data entry, consider introducing automation into this process to reduce human error and streamline information exchange.
Odyssey’s products are made specifically for defense contractors trying to maintain MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N compliance. They automate data entry, label printing, UID validation and registry submission, and can even facilitate payments and future reordering. Learn more about how Odyssey can streamline your operations, reducing risk, and protecting your cash flow. Contact us today.