ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

DoD Shipment & Invoice Submission Made Easy

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 @ 15:03 PM

We know that completing Department of Defense transactions in iRAPT can be difficult. However, we also know it’s a necessary part of doing your job.  This can prove challenging for many DoD suppliers. With Odyssey, you no longer have to log into iRAPT and work manually to complete a successful transaction.  

 The iRAPT Console’s “Transmit iRAPT Documents” feature makes it easy to submit required shipment and invoice information to the DoD.

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Here’s how it works.

Click on “Transmit iRAPT Documents”. 

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Select the document ID you would like to submit.  Choose the appropriate pay mechanism, like “Combo” or “Fast Pay”, and associate your invoice number to the transaction. From here, discounts, fees and attachments can be initiated.

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You can also create a receiving report for review that doubles as a government approved packing slip.

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When you are ready to submit, use the iRAPT Console’s point-and-click submission to send your transaction directly to the government database iRAPT.

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You can email the data directly to your QAR from Odyssey or log in to iRAPT, and it appears as if you manually entered it yourself. 

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In the world of DoD commerce, time and accuracy matter. Odyssey’s iRAPT Console is the most efficient and effective way to complete your DoD transactions.

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Learn more about our iRAPT Console here. You can also watch a full video demo here.

Topics: iRAPT, department of defense, DoD, DoD approved software, simple, easy to use software

UIDs must be submitted to iRAPT during the transaction process

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 @ 16:06 PM

We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about iRAPT, WAWF and the UID Registry from vendors trying to make sense of recent changes and how they can stay compliant. We can’t blame them. DoD compliance is critically important, and making sense of shifting vocabulary and guidelines can be an issue. So let’s look at these changes, what they could mean for vendors, and the best way to handle data submission. DoD_Seal

First, a cosmetic change: a few months ago we wrote a post on Wide Area Work Flow being renamed to Invoicing, Receipt, Acceptance and Property Transfer. The primary purpose of our post was to ease the minds of those working with these tools, especially those using Odyssey’s software.

“In November of last year, e-Business Suit 5.6 was released and thus changed the name of WAWF to iRAPT. Fear not, if you were familiar....... you’re also familiar with iRAPT. It’s still the secure web-based system used by the DoD for electronic submission of advance shipping data, invoicing, receipt, and acceptance, which allows DoD vendors to submit and track invoices and receipt/acceptance documents. That means that, critically, it allows government personnel to process those invoices in real-time. The most important thing to note is that the name change doesn’t alter the critical nature of the application or Odyssey’s position in the process.”

That last line is key.  The name change doesn’t alter its necessity, and it doesn’t alter how vendors use Odyssey’s software. We’ll dig into this more specifically in a moment, but the same few clicks that were previously used to submit data continue to be effective. As a side note, since the writing of that article, version 5.7 of the e-Business Suit has been released. Here is a Power Point outlining all the updates in 5.7.

Secondly, and more importantly, is the recent migration of the data needed to flow to the Registry. This gets down into the meat of the issue. Back in October we wrote about the migration and what it could mean for DoD vendors and the compliance process.

“Some big changes are coming to the UID Registry. Specifically, the Registry is migrating to the Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) [iRAPT] e-Business Suite, and with it, changes to when and where UID information needs to be submitted for new acquisitions. This new policy appears to be an attempt to make things easier on the supplier, as well as ensure DoD compliance across the board by all registered vendors.

“Some users may be accustomed to simply submitting contract and transactional shipment data to WAWF initially and then circling back to the IUID Registry when it’s convenient, if at all. That will no longer be a viable option, as the data will now flow from WAWF to the IUID Registry. In other words, the Registry will no longer exist in and of itself for new acquisition submissions.”

Think of it this way. Vendors work with iRAPT to submit their Mil-Std 130n data, which flows to the IUID Registry.software_integration The DoD then uses the IUID Registry to track assets and their life cycle events. Plainly put, vendors must do this.

While enforcement of these requirements is new, its importance is akin to the need for RFID on the inventory management side. Vendors are asked to “set the stage” for downstream activities that make asset visibility and management a lot easier to handle once in the DoD supply chain.

But that still leaves us with the million-dollar question, and what we alluded to previously about the Odyssey software. How does one go about ensuring they’ve properly submitted an asset’s IUID data? Well, for Odyssey users, it’s really quite easy. A process that might have been a hassle, caused delays or worse; has been condensed into a get-in-get-out solution that takes the guesswork out of all MIL-STD 129 r and mil-std 130n label creation, data entry and final submission for compliance and payment.

Since day one, our software was built to automatically create compliant labels with respect to the PDF417 UIIs and submission of IUID pedigree data to iRAPT and subsequently the Registry at the time of transaction. Vendors can either utilize the Odyssey software to marshal their Item Unique Identifications or they can easily scan in or import previously marked items for management and transmission purposes. Now that iRAPT is stopping the process dead in its tracks, submission of the UID data is paramount to a successful transaction

Watch IUID Module  Overview Video

Topics: WAWF, dod compliance, MIL-STD 129R, UID, UID Registry, MIL-STD 130 N, IUID, iRAPT

Item level RFID and its far reaching impact

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 10:06 AM

Last year, we wrote a couple of blogs discussing challenges with item-level RFID and different solutions companies, researchers and manufacturers were utilizing to overcome them. We also wrote about the increased adoption of smart labels as it relates to the Internet of Things and sectors outside the DoD, particularly with DoD_Sealretailers. These two topics actually go hand-in-hand really well. As adoption increases so will challenges. We’ve ensured that our software is built such that it can absorb new changes and challenges seamlessly, creating a streamlined user experience. For those using the technology outside of DoD compliance, other, more creative solutions are needed.

            Let’s start with retail. An item-level RFID inventory solution can be invaluable to a store looking to ensure they never run out, or overstock, inventory. The challenge is that a tag/reader system can be expensive for stores with multiple locations. To battle this, clothing retailer F&F is working to cut down on the man-hours it would take to scan each tag, balancing the price of the system by removing the cost of manpower going forward. Their solution is certainly out-of-the-box, but the logic is tight. Imagine you’re walking down an aisle, casually browsing cardigans, when suddenly you see a six-foot tall robot come strolling by. No, we’re not talking Terminator-looking robots; more like tall vacuum cleaners. These autonomous robots are equipped with scanners that can read tags in a 360 radius several times a week, ensuring accurate data capture.

            Another interesting article we came across brought up the idea of using item-level RFID on a smaller scale to keep track of items in an office. The writer said that he was contacted by a business manager who wanted to keep an inventory of everyday office supplies like computers, monitors, chairs, etc. The writer suggested tagging each item as well as the doorways to the rooms they were located in. He envisioned a scenario where an app on a reader would bring up a list of items in a room after the tag in the doorway was scanned. The reader could then be waved around and tell the manager if all items were present or not. Sounds great, right? Well the issue, and the point of the article, is that no such app exists; at least not on the level this man was looking to use it. So while there aren’t apps available for smaller-scale, item-level tracking, we have to assume that could be coming down the pipeline sometime soon. If radio frequency identification technology, particularly the passive kind (due to cost efficiency), continues to grow in popularity, we could be seeing all kind of advancements that allow more and more people to track assets easily.

            It’s important to know, however, that while robots are neat and flashy and provide a solution that’s sure to grab headlines, sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference. For example, if you read our blog post last month you saw us comment on a particular solution to WAWF being renamed to iRAPT. The outside solution was a training manual costing hundreds of dollars and time necessary for employees to read dollar_signthrough it. Don’t get us wrong; iRAPT is critical to DoD vendors as it’s the method in which they submit RFID and UID data for compliance purposes. Our point, as you can read in the blog, is that if vendors are using DoD-approved software solutions, such as Odyssey, then nothing changes. Vendors can keep doing what they’ve always been doing.

            While we wish we had more autonomous robots walking around the Odyssey offices, we’re confident that our DoD compliance software solutions enables vendors to submit this information electronically by marshaling unique identifiers, providing management and incorporating data within MIL-STD 129 R and MIL-STD 130N interior and exterior label compliance. We also know that we’re pioneers in a young and ever-changing industry, and we need to constantly be on the forefront of adaptation.

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, MIL-STD 129R, UID, MIL-STD 130 N, Item level RFID, iRAPT, Internet of Things

Don't Waste Time or Money on iRAPT Training Materials

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 @ 12:06 PM

A couple of months ago we wrote a blog post on WAWF being renamed to iRAPT. You can read the post here, but the gist is that, essentially, not much will change for DoD vendors looking to keep compliant by submitting advance shipping information, including RFID and UID data, as well as Invoices electronically. This is particularly true if those vendors are using Odyssey’s software solution. The reason we’re revisiting this topic is that, without proper understanding, DoD vendors could potentially pay for information and training that isn’t really necessary.

            Before we begin, we’ll refer you to another blog post detailing the acronyms we’ll be using like iRAPT (Invoice receipt acceptance and property transfer), WAWF (wide area workflow), RFID (radio frequency DoD_Sealidentification), UID (unique identification), etc. Check it out here if you’re not familiar with any of these.

            What really sparked this post is an email we recently received offering a training manual on the WAWF changeover. At first glance, this detailed manual (almost 200 pages and “written in layman’s terms”) seems like a great training tool for any DoD supplier. At $495 per manual, the buy in is pretty steep, but it’s worth it to ensure proper vendor compliance, right? Maybe, but there are a few issues we see with this.

            First, having employees comb through a 200-page manual on a subject as tedious as this isn’t incredibly practical. An iRAPT training manual this large will not only take time to get through, but if these DoD instructions are to be followed they must also be studied and memorized. This is simply not an efficient process. Secondly, while $495 per manual may not be substantial for larger suppliers, it is a cost that isn’t really necessary. As we stated before in our blog, if your company is utilizing a software solution from the DoD approved software list then nothing has really changed.

            We look at it this way: why spend time and money figuring out how the watch works when Odyssey will just tell you what time it is? In other words, our software is specifically built to be user-proof, only necessitating a few clicks to send all imperative DoD RFID and DoD UID data as well as the electronic invoicing component. As we stated in our previous blog, the most important thing to remember is that the change from iRAPT to WAWF doesn’t alter the critical nature of the application or Odyssey’s position in the process. Our DoD software is specifically built around submitting this information electronically by marshaling these unique identifiers, providing their management and incorporation within MIL-STD 129 R and MIL-STD 130N interior and exterior label compliance.

            It all breaks down to this: If you’re using Odyssey’s DoD approved rfid software solution, keep doing what you’re doing. If your not using Odyssey’s software platform that’s ok too, but don’t go buy an expensive manual and hold classes for your employees so they can better understand the system. Please consider saving yoursoftware_integration time and money and don’t send employees to third party training junkets to get certified on how to use a free government website.

          The problems and challenges related to the DoD process are intertwined between departments. Knowing how to use the DoDs free site, is only one piece of the puzzle; and the last piece at that. In order to make the process efficient and effective, companies must recognize and think through the entire set of tasks. Contract management, RFID creation, MIL-129 label creation, UID format and marking are all tasks that need to be addressed prior to even logging into iRAPT. If all of these can be handled in one solution and then pushed directly to the government through a single point and click submission, doesn’t that make the most sense?

 Watch iRAPT Console Demonstration Here!

Topics: DoD approved software, RFID Software, RFID, MIL-STD 129R, UID, MIL-STD 130 N, iRAPT

Passive RFID Technology and the NCAA

Posted by James Lusk on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 @ 11:03 AM

We’re knee deep into the NCAA tournament, which means our brackets have long been busted. At least we’re not alone, right? Everyone has felt that bit of pride as we hang our newly inked NCAA Tournamentbracket on the office wall before the initial tip off. Now, those same brackets serve as a monument to our shame, displayed for all to see, with innumerable strikethroughs of our failed match ups. All is not lost, though. We still watch March Madness even when our brackets and teams have failed us. We watch for the thrill of the game, the standout performances and the triumph of the underdog. For those of us who go nuts overs statistics, some recent NCAA changes may bring about better methods of collecting those statistics from student athletes.

            Quietly, and recently, the NCAA announced amongst other high-profile rule changes, that it will consider allowing new technologies to be implemented during games. While the organization didn’t specifically state what types of technologies will be utilized, it’s not difficult to see RFID playing a major role. For decades, the NFL has been putting microphones and radios into the helmets of quarterbacks, captains and stars. It’s now impossible to watch an NFL game and not see iPads, laptops and other devices being used on the sidelines. This is not the case anywhere in the NCAA.

            We speculate RFID technology finding its way into college sports for a number of reasons. The technology itself is economically efficient, meaning schools, particularly those that don’t bring in large sums of money through their athletic programs, can afford it. Secondly, RFID chips are small enough to be sewn into jerseys or even placed into balls without altering gameplay. We’vePassive RFID NHL already seen this in other sports. The NHL, for example, recently used RFID chips during their annual All-Star weekend in January. Chips were embedded into each player’s jersey and into the pucks. These chips were read by scanners placed throughout the arena and provided accurate player data that could be used by the league and journalists.

            The NHL’s foray into RFID technology certainly isn’t the first attempt by a league or team to implement a more efficient way to track statistics. Players in this year’s Super Bowl had RFID chips implanted into their shoulder pads to track data that typically had to be captured manually. Germany, the winners of the 2014 World Cup used the Adidas miCoach system of wearable technology during their training leading up to the tournament. The system allowed for the collection of specific, accurate statistics of performance and allowed coaches to later analyze data and create better, individualized training sessions for their players. The miCoach system currently uses a “smart ball” linked to a smart phone via Bluetooth, but becomes somewhat impractical when you consider Adidas’ smart ball costs upwards of $200 and the sheer number of balls used in training. RFID has the potential to greatly cut down on expenses while not needing to be tied to a specific type of equipment. Like passive RFID, the miCoach system collects data to be read at a later time, negating the need for more expensive active RFID.

            While all the pundits will be busy during March Madness discussing shortening the shotPassive RFID clock or moving the three-point line back, we’re most excited for the potential implementation of technology. Our focus at Odyssey remains championship caliber DoD compliant solutions however; the increasing popularity of passive RFID coupled with a lower barrier to entry is hard to ignore. As wearable technology and analytic-tracking devices become more prevalent, it only makes sense that they would find their way into our sports and ultimately our own internal organizational practices.

Topics: RFID, dod compliance, RFID Software, dod compliance, Passive RFID, iRAPT

iRAPT; formerly known as WAWF

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 @ 13:03 PM

If you’ve been reading our blog recently you know that we’ve written pretty extensively on Wide Area Workflow, or WAWF for short. We’ve done this because WAWF is a critical element of DoD vendor compliance. In fact, it’s so essential we’ve built our software with that specifically with this in mind. Now, however, things are changing up a bit. WAWF has been renamed to iRAPT (Invoicing, Receipt, Acceptance and Property Transfer). Change like this has the potential to be a little jarring, so we want to use this post to fully explain what all of this means. iRAPT Console

Before we get started, though, take a look at our blog post on the various acronyms associated with iRAPT, WAWF and ultimately UID. It will help clear up a lot of confusion if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology.

In November of last year, e-Business Suit 5.6 was released and thus changed the name of WAWF to iRAPT. Fear not, if you were familiar with WAWF, you’re also familiar with iRAPT. It’s still the secure web-based system used by the DoD for electronic submission of advance shipping data, invoicing, receipt, and acceptance, which allows DoD vendors to submit and track invoices and receipt/acceptance documents. That means that, critically, it allows government personnel to process those invoices in real-time.

iRAPT will manifest itself in a DoD vendor’s compliance efforts most frequently in submitting advance shipping information, including RFID and UID data as well as Invoices. Our blog post on the UID Registry Migrating to WAWF (now iRAPT) explains these processes further, but essentially, this means that iRAPT must be the method in which new acquisition UID and RFID data is submitted to the DoD. This is extremely important as  RFID and UID data makes up the backbone of the DoD inventory control methodology and an asset’s lifecycle management.

The most important thing to note is that the name change doesn’t alter the critical nature of the iRAPT application or Odyssey’s position in the process. Because iRAPT Console is the core to what our software does (allowing DoD vendors to stay compliant in a manner that is both efficient andDoD Compliance effective), we’ve built the Odyssey program specifically around submitting RFID and UID data to iRAPT by marshaling these unique identifiers, providing their management and incorporation within MIL-STD 129 R and MIL-STD 130 N interior and exterior label compliance.

So fear not, specifically if you use Odyssey’s platform to complete your DoD-related tasks. You’ll still submit your data to iRAPT in the same manner you did for WAWF, which breaks down to a few simple clicks after our software automatically marshals the appropriate RFID and/or UID data. You can rest assured that those processes will remain just as hassle-free as you’ve always known them to be.

 Watch iRAPT Console Demonstration Here!

Topics: WAWF, Wide Area Workflow, dod compliance, MIL-STD-129, MIL-STD 129R, MIL-STD 130 N, iRAPT

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

Help! is it DoD IUID, or UID or UII??

Posted by James Lusk on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

In our previous blog post we discussed the basics of DoD MIL-STD 130N Item Unique Identification, or IUID for short. Our goal was to explain the complexities of IUID in a way that makes them accessible, particularly for those who find themselves working with the Department of Defense and attempting to stay compliant with procedures for military marking for shipment and storage. In this post, we’ll delve a little deeper into some of the acronyms frequently used alongside of UID. Many information resources, particularly government websites, will use these acronyms in place of their long-form titles, ensuring efficiency with complicated labels.DoD UID

 

Here is a list of common acronyms used with Military Standard 130 N, UID and Military Standard 129 R marking for shipment and storage and the definitions of each:

 

1. IUID, UID and UII: As stated above, IUID and UID both refer to Item Unique Identification. UII stands for Unique Item Identifiers. You’ll see all three used pretty frequently, which can be confusing unless you know they’re basically interchangeable. We’ll use all three, and we mean the same thing for all of them, a permanent marking method, mandated by the DoD, used to give equipment a unique identification to better track it.

2. TAV: Total Asset Visibility. This is the goal of MIL-STD 130 N, UID and why the DoD mandates compliancy for all of their suppliers. TAV means being able to view timely and accurate information on the location, movement, status and identity of items. TAV not only means the DoD can keep life cycle management records of an asset at all times, it also means they, and their suppliers, can view these records to gather information at any time about the quantity, location, and condition of assets anywhere in the DoD logistics system.

3. ECC200 Symbol: Error Correcting and Checking. ECC 200 refers to the 2D Data Matrix symbol we mentioned in our previous blog post. This is the physical mark or label that is wholly unique to that asset for its lifetime, even if the asset is modified in some way. It is read and decoded by a specialized barcode reader.

4. iRAPT-WAWF: Invoice Receipt Acceptance and Property Transfer - Wide Area Workflow. This is a new name given to an old standby in the DoD commerce world. This is the means in which new acquisition UID data is submitted to the UID Registry. For more information on iRAPT/WAWF and its relation to UID, check out our blog post on the UID Registry’s migration to WAWF. You’ll also learn more about how the Odyssey software is built to operate with this compliance specifically by marshaling UIDs providing their management and incorporation within MIL-STD 129 R exterior label compliance.DoD Compliance

5. PDF417: Portable Data File (consisting of 4 bars and spaces, and patterns that are 17 units long each). This stacked linear barcode is placed on the case label and is used for the quick identification of assets. Odyssey’s software automatically integrates UID data into the PDF417, while simultaneously handling the programmatic insertion of the UID data into the electronic file sent to iRAPT/WAWF. This helps meet the UID Advance Ship notice requirement as well as the requirement to submit the UID to the UID registry.

 

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and the DoD and its suppliers utilize many other acronyms; click here to read more. Hopefully after reading this you’ll have a better time navigating the various resources online regarding the use of UID and what the DoD requires to stay compliant with it. Please also visit OdysseyDCS.com and the rest of our blog to learn more about DoD compliance and how the Odyssey software makes it easy.

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, MIL-STD-129, MIL-STD 129R, UID Registry, MIL-STD 130 N, IUID, iRAPT