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A Brief History of DoD UID

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 @ 13:03 PM

As we continue to explore the depths of UID and MIL-STD 130N in this blog series we want to next discuss the history of the compliance process mandated by the DoD. UID was very much a system built out of necessity, and understanding that necessity sheds a lot of light on the reason for its widespread usage today. Item identification, as it pertains to military assets, has been around for quite awhile, but let’s go back, for the sake of illustration, to World War II.DoD Commerce

            Consider the Sherman tank, which was the American tank most commonly used by Allies in WWII. During the U.S.’s involvement in the war, primarily between 1942 and 1945, roughly 50,000 Shermans were manufactured and shipped to various Allied nations. While the German Tiger tank was a vastly superior product, manufacturing times and expenditures on these armored vehicles were dramatically higher than the Sherman. In the end, the U.S. tank became vital to the war effort because it allowed the Allies to overwhelm their Axis counterparts with sheer numbers. Surely George Patton reveled in the influx of Shermans into his 3rd army, but the asset volume caused headaches for those keeping track of the logistical side of the war.

            During this time, each branch of the U.S. military used separate methods for identifying assets, meaning a single part could have a different name depending on which branch you asked. With such a substantial amount of items being delivered around the world, it didn’t take long for the military to realize inventory control was neigh impossible under the current system. After WWII, as part of a series of events that gave birth to the Department of Defense, the Federal Stock Number (FSN) was created. This system utilized an 11-digit stock number that was applied to assets to give them a unique identifier. This method was even further refined a few years later with the Defense Cataloging and Standardization Act, which mandated a single catalogue system for the DoD. The entire system was so successful that in March of 1953 the first edition of the MIL-STD-130 was published to require the uniform application of identification labels to military properties.

            This system of asset management went through various stages of change in the coming years, but saw its largest evolution in 1990 with The Chief Financial Officers’ Act, which called for cost reduction and improved item accountability. The DoD found itself in a situation where it needed to greatly improve asset visibility and lifecycle item management. It was one thing to properly identify and distinguish assets, but now it was necessary to track those assets at any point throughout their lifecycle and provide real-time data and logistical information. Such was born the DoD’s first vision of modern unique item identification. MIL-STD 130

            In 2003, the Acting Under Secretary of Defense signed into effect a policy that lead to UID as we know it today. This policy made UID management a mandatory DoD requirement on all new assets issued on or after January 1st, 2004. This was also around the time that UID began utilizing a 2D Data Matrix. The technology for this type of marking had actually been around since the 90s when NASA was in need of a way to mark individual items that was both secure and compact. The inclusion of the 2D Data Matrix into UID meant that all items of a certain value were required to be marked with this machine-readable code to improve inventory data quality, asset visibility, and accurate data capture.

            And so we find ourselves here, today, with the most modern interpretation of UID. It’s a system that has been around for decades and continues to evolve, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in larger ways, but always to streamline the cost, effectiveness and efficiency of asset management. Please contact us to learn more about how the ODYSSEY DCS SaaS platform can help your organization manage MIL-STD 130N, UID and as well as all other DoD commerce requirements.

Topics: UID, dod compliance, MIL-STD 130 N, IUID, Government Approved VAN, iRAPT

EDI and VAN Services Aren't Always Glamorous But They Are Critical

Posted by Bo McMillan on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Have you ever stopped to wonder how your email client works? We live in a world where exchanging messages is as simple as hitting “Send,” and hearing our phones beep as a new reply automatically shows up in our inboxes. Have you ever thought about the wealth of information that’s taking place behind the scenes for those messages to travel like that, though? You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t. Not everyone is interested in the logistics of data exchange. We live for it at Odyssey, though.

            Electronic data interchange, or EDI, is at the heart of what we do at Odyssey and, as critical as it is, one of our goals is to make sure our customers never have to worry about it. EDI essentially provides a standard for exchanging data via any electronic means. By adhering to these standards, two entities, in entirely different locations, can exchange complex data.  EDI, atSoftware integration its most basic, is the backbone of communication between the Government and Odyssey; hence why we think it’s so fundamental, and why we tend to get pretty excited talking about it.

            Unfortunately, for some, the process of EDI is a tedious, and ultimately frustrating, affair. Limitations to the adoption of EDI, such as companies sharing proprietary data, can cause issues with data exchange. To counteract this, Value-Added Networks, or VANs, were created. VANs act as mediators between companies so that data can be processed and exchanged appropriately. To that end, Odyssey took the necessary steps to become a government approved VAN. Think of a VAN like a post office. It takes the data and encapsulates it into something that can be shared between two entities, much like a post office placing appropriate stamps on your letters and then sending them out through their carriers. This sounds great on the surface, but VAN services are expensive and typically don’t have an easy-to-use interface component. Because of this, companies will sometimes pass up large contracts or special programs within the DoD that require special reporting or invoicing pathways. On top of this, companies that use a VAN will still need software to make practical use of the data.

            To bypass this mess, we made the Odyssey software to easily implement EDI connectivity with a user interface for business process functions such as:

  • RFQ noticfication, submission, and purchase acknowledgement
  • Contract management,
  • Mil-Std 129 R or Mil-Std 130 N label creation
  • Invoicing,
  • Submission of advanced shipment notices
  • Receipt of payment documentation and reporting,

            What does that mean from our customers’ standpoint? It means that EDI stops being a concern for them. Our software handles the logistical end of electronic data interchange and leaves the customer with a streamlined experience that takes just a few clicks to complete.

            Because ease of use is so important to Odyssey and its customers, we’ve created our software to be accessed anywhere, whether it be a PC, Mac, tablet, etc. This means that our customers have complete freedom in where they log into the Odyssey solution. We think this flexibility is paramount in today’s business world as more and more companies are operating inPrivate Cloud multiple geographic locations and employees working from home offices is becoming increasingly popular. We do recognize, however, that as cloud-based and web-based software become more prevalent so too do security risks. There are daily reports about data security and privacy breaches, viruses and malware, so we specifically constructed Odyssey’s software to offer all the conveniences of cloud-based architecture while simultaneously mitigating cyber security risks. No ads or outside sources are featured within the interface and our SaaS platform is accessed through private architecture and client-specific secure certificate domains. 

            Just like with email exchange clients, Odyssey’s software is at its best when the user isn’t concerned with the logistics of data exchanges happening in the background. We encourage our customers to enjoy the simple interface and the ease at which they can complete compliance and commerce tasks within the DoD space.

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, RFID Software, MIL-STD-129, dod compliance, MIL-STD 129R, MIL-STD 130 N, EDI, Government Approved VAN, VAN, Value Added Networks