ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

Seamlessly Manage IUID Tasks in One Platform

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, May 3, 2017 @ 10:05 AM

The Department of Defense is consistently changing and updating requirements for military marking, shipments, storage and more. These new standards often add to an already long list of requirements and processes that must be managed.  Companies must engage in asynchronistic activities, log into multiple unrelated software programs and coordinate with outside suppliers, just to complete a DoD transaction.

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Imagine how efficiently your company could run if all that redundant work was eliminated by a single, end-to-end product.  Odyssey is a cloud-based, fully integrated IUID compliance and transactional software solution and is DoD approved.

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UID activities generally fall into two main tasks:  Events and transactions.

Events

  • UID Mil-Std 130 N marks
  • Receipt of previously marked assets
  • Pedigree building or embedded IUID relationships

Transactions

  • UID data into required exterior labels
  • Advanced ship notice and invoice submission
  • Managing lifecycle events within the registry

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Even though these tasks are separate from one another, and each uses its own specialized software and data pathways, you, the supplier, are tasked with entering and integrating data for each one to complete a successful DoD transaction.  Odyssey unifies this process, allowing you to engage in successful IUID mandated commerce from a single end-to-end solution.

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Now you can seamlessly manage the following, all in one DoD approved platform:

  • End level UID creation
  • Assets previously marked with UID
  • Embedding IUID for parent/ child pedigree assembly
  • Government furnished property
  • UID compliance requirements mandated to occur through the IUID registry

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Odyssey’s technology also eliminates keystroke or typographical errors. Our approach is based on automation, rather than redundant data entry. Its flexible, low-impact implementation won’t obstruct your unique set of assets, requirements and workflows.

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Hundreds of organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, have already standardized on the DoD approved Odyssey platform.  Success and longevity demands a compliant, transparent and repeatable process.

 

Watch the full video demonstration here. Schedule a no-obligation, personalized demonstration today, here.

Topics: DoD, DoD approved software, IUID, MIL-STD 130 N, UID, Odyssey DCS

4 Trends Shaping the World of Data in 2017

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 @ 13:04 PM

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Data is commonly defined as, “facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.” With the help of technology, the process of collecting and analyzing data continues to evolve and is now bigger than ever. Businesses are relying on mass amounts of data to gain insights into their customers and meet their objectives.

Data is especially important for suppliers to the Department of Defense (DoD). For example, our industry maintains a vast amount of information like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Item Unique Identification (IUID) to effectively track and ship products, meet DoD requirements and complete transactions.

We’ve noticed a few trends that are shaping how we use data, and these trends aren’t slowing down in 2017. 

Data volumes continue to grow

As the internet of things (IoT) continues to grow, the amount of data created worldwide is expected to increase tenfold by 2025. That’s a lot of data. In fact, according to an International Data Corp (IDC) white paper, “By 2025, an average connected person anywhere in the world will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day – basically one interaction every 18 seconds.” 

From a business perspective, organizations need to be strategic about what portion of that data to manage and how to manage it. If not done correctly, organizations could lose revenue, provide poor customer experiences and suffer operational issues. 

More and more data moves to the cloud

Due to the increasing amount of data, organizations are taking more of their applications to the cloud and out of their data centers.  Data centers can be expensive to manage, especially for small businesses, and companies today don’t want to be required to lock in for multiple years to on-premises equipment. 

The cloud is based on subscription services, is scalable to your business needs, and offers greater flexibility. There are many benefits to working with cloud service providers that offer the big data processing platform, as well as the expertise. For these reasons, many organizations have already moved to the cloud, and even more will follow suit.

Many of the DoD suppliers we work with enjoy the ability to work in the same dashboard as their coworkers located around the country. All data in the dashboard is updated in real-time through the cloud.

Companies place great importance on security

Although a slow process, companies seem to finally be catching on to the importance of data security and are putting resources toward it.  And as more companies than ever are relying on data, they will be forced to evaluate and improve their privacy and security procedures. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2018, 50% of business ethics violations will be related to data.

We want immediate gratification

Today, most everything can be done with the click of a button, leading customers to demand instant gratification. The same goes for companies when it comes to their data analytics. Executives and managers want to see analytics that offer immediate, actionable data. Gone are the days of waiting hours or even days to get answers and insights. Real-time data programs, like Odyssey, offer the ability to make accurate and real-time decisions, based on the data provided. Fresh, timely insights will be more important than ever. 

These trends have already emerged, but they will only continue to drive the world of data in the years to come. All businesses, especially those working with the Department of Defense, should see themselves as data-driven companies. Executives and data professionals should keep a close eye on these trends and adapt their data strategies as needed.

By collecting and analyzing the right data, DoD suppliers can save time, money and resources getting the job done. Learn more about our data-driven services here.

Topics: cloud computing, data, IUID, RFID, department of defense

Internet Of Things: Key to DoD Commerce Success

Posted by James Lusk on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 @ 14:09 PM

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The Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT, continues to grow as a topic of ongoing conversation, and could soon be a household term. IoT, commonly defined as, “a proposed development of the Internet, in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data,” is beginning to impact almost every industry. LTE-enabled cars now offer real-time traffic information and real-time vehicle diagnostics. Your FitBit and other wearable tech offers personalized data, like heart rate, step count, calories burned, etc. And retailers are tracking your shopping habits every day to send you coupons and offers at the right time and place.

Not only is IoT aimed at consumers, but many business-to-business companies are adopting it, as well. For example, it’s being used to connect manufacturing equipment, medical devices and all the other commercial equipment used by the world’s largest companies. Many businesses have found that the technology improves their bottom lines by:

  • Lowering operating costs
  • Increasing productivity and efficiency
  • Expanding to new markets
  • Developing new product offerings

BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, found that the future of IoT is looking bright, and it’s not slowing down any time soon. They project that nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions over the next five years and that businesses will be the top adopters of IoT solutions.

 The Internet of Things has also largely affected the federal government, from the Department of Defense to NASA to the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, big data and analytics firm Giovini reported that the federal IoT market saw 20 percent year-over-year growth in fiscal year 2015. This is a trend that will likely continue as the technology gets more and more sophisticated.

Because of the advances in the Internet of Things, everything is connected. Odyssey has adopted this growing technology to create integrated, cross-departmental work-flow processes that utilize an efficient and effective cloud-based platform.  For example, item unique identification (IUID) is a system of establishing unique item identifiers (UII) within the DoD by assigning a machine-readable character string or number to a discrete item. This serves to distinguish it from other items. The data required to properly manage a successful IUID transaction is easily created within our software or imported in a compliant format provided by the user.  We also create pre-encoded RFID labels, which are smart labels that meet DoD requirements and track the location and status of a client’s product.

We believe that today’s DoD commerce requires an IT platform that can make sense of requirements and provide an automated environment to easily react and respond in real-time. Our DOD-approved software helps to make our partners’ work easier and more efficient by:

  • Improving resource utilization
  • Reducing errors
  • Enabling streamlined commerce and compliance measures

We take pride in staying on top of the newest and most effective technology. Our goal is to be one step ahead of industry trends to help our partners get the most out of their business.

Topics: UID, IUID, RFID, Internet of Things, DoD approved 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

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

DoD IUID; Let's start with the Basics

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 15:01 PM

If you work with the Department of Defense, like our clients, you frequently have to work with something called Military Standard 130 n Item Unique Identification, or IUID for short, as the DoD mandates the use of these marks on a growing number of assets. Trying to understand the ins and outs of UID can be daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the technology and subsequent processes. In light of that, we thought we’d do a series of blogs related to various topics within the IUID world.

Let’s start with a couple of the basic concepts: IUID DoD compliance

1. What is UID?

Think of UID as a social security number for a particular item. The discrete string of characters is globally unique to that particular item. Once a UID is assigned to an item it is never reused, ensuring that item will forever be connected to that mark and data identifier.

            Physical items are marked with UID in the form of a 2D Data Matrix symbol. The Data Matrix consists of black and white modules arranged in squared patterns, and can be decoded by a specialized barcode reader. The Data Matrix will often manifest itself on a poly label or is sometimes etched or dot peened into certain items, ensuring lifetime identification, even if the item is modified in some way.

            This type of identification is critical to the DoD as it deals with millions of assets that require total visibility, lifecycle management and financial accountability. UID provides a practical way to keep up with all items coming and going.

            Picture this: a supplier is sending the DoD an asset and needs to include a UID. Simple, right? Except each item that encompasses the make-up of the asset also needs to have its own UID as well. This ensures that critical components aren’t missing from the final product. It’s like when you were little and your Lego set was missing a brick. There may be 100 pieces that make up your set, but missing just one makes the whole thing unbuildable. Now imagine that on an $80,000 vehicle!

Proper UID compliance ensures situations like that never happen, and moreover; in conjunction with the registry UID provides the DoD a way to record and manage all life cycle events that affect the vehicle including maintenance, upgrades, etc.

2. How Do I Stay Compliant with UID? UID Registry

It’s good to know what UID is, but being able to work with and manage it properly is even more important. This is where the real headache begins. One of the things Odyssey seeks to do is make DoD compliance a no-brainer. Since day one, our software was built to automatically create compliant MIL-STD 130 n and MIL-STD 129 labels with respect to the PDF417 UIIs and electronic submission of end level and embedded UID data to WAWF at time of transaction and subsequently the UID Registry.

Our DoD vendors can either utilize the Odyssey software to marshal their UIDs or they can easily scan or import previously marked items into Odyssey’s software for management and transmission purposes.

Once the UID is in Odyssey, it takes just a single click and, boom, all the data is pushed exactly where it needs to go and our vendors are compliant. What initially seems like a complicated endeavor becomes hassle free and allows UID, which is an incredibly useful asset management tool, to be quick and easy.

            We’ll get into UID and process complexities a little more in upcoming blog posts, but this is the ground floor. For our clients, compliance isn’t a choice, but making something simple that initially seems daunting certainly is.

 

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Topics: UID, Wide Area Workflow, dod compliance, UID Registry, MIL-STD 130 N, IUID

The UID Registry is Migrating to WAWF

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 11:10 AM

If you weren’t aware, some big changes are coming to the UID Registry on the planned date of November 3rd.

       Specifically, the IUID Registry is migrating to the Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) e-Business Suite, and with it, changes to when and where UID information needs to be submitted DoD Software Compliancefor new acquisitions. Click here to read more about the migration from the DoD Procurement Toolbox. 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. 

        This will no doubt cause headaches and potential process changes for some, particularly when it comes to creating compliant labels and submitting the UID data to WAWF at the time of transaction. Some users may be accustomed to simply submitting contract and transactional shipment data to WAWF initially and then circling back to the UID 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 UID Registry. In other words, the Registry will no longer exist in and of itself for new acquisition submissions.

     Of course, it’s difficult to guess how the Department of Defense will enforce this new change, but noncompliance could potentially lead to issues such as payment delays and negatively-impacted vendor scores. Simply put, this change is important to get right.

     We at Odyssey are actually pretty excited about the UID Registry migration to WAWF e-Business Suite, though. Since day one, our software was built to automatically create compliant labels with respect to the PDF417 UIIs and submit UID pedigree data to WAWF and subsequently the UID Registry at the time of transaction. Vendors can either utilize the Odyssey software to marshal their UIDs or they can easily scan or import previously marked items into Odyssey’s DoD Compliance Softwaresoftware for management and transmission purposes.

     Once the UID is tied to a transaction in Odyssey, whether RFID is required or not, it just takes a single click and, boom, all the data is pushed exactly where it needs to go and Vendors are compliant.

     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 130 N label creation, data entry and final submission for compliance and payment

     So, ultimately, how important is this UID Registry migration to Odyssey and its users? From a purely practical standpoint, not very. Odyssey users will continue to interface with the software as normal. No extra process steps or new settings that need to be toggled will be added. Our users are already 100% compliant with the new regulation. In another sense, however, the change is important because this migration, and Odyssey’s proactive compliance with it, shows that we’re staying ahead of the curve when it comes to DoD regulations.

   In the end, this migration makes us happy, because we’ve strived to design a compliant, transparent, repeatable program that’s quick and easy for our users. UID data is extremely important to the DoD because it is the backbone of lifecycle management for some of the most important new acquisitions made by our Armed forces. The fact that we don’t need to make a single change to adhere to this migration policy reaffirms our corporate understanding of the importance of upstream activities by DoD vendors and suppliers, and tells us we’re doing something right!

 

5 Tips to remember  when evaluating  software solutions

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, UID, Wide Area Workflow, dod compliance, RFID Software, MIL-STD-129, dod compliance, MIL-STD 129R, UID Registry, MIL-STD 130 N, IUID