ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

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

DoD RFID tags and the software that makes it all work

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

As radio frequency identification usage continues to increase, and the technology continues to make its way into headlines, we’ve noticed a growing trend in the application of DoD labels and DoD RFID tags. Specifically, RFID is being implemented as an inventory-tracking tool. We’ve previously blogged about clothing retailers, grocery stores and other corporations utilizing tags and readers to control their inventory on an individual level (here, and here). These item-level RFID solutions that offer tracking looks to be the future of product management because it allows singularRFID integrated process assets to be tracked with identification exclusive to those items. Whether it be a pair of shoes or a t-shirt, more and more retailers are using RF solutions to keep track of how much inventory they have, and where that inventory is located at any given time during its lifetime.

            A recent article in RFID Journal announced the integration of item-level tracking to manage uniforms at the Fort Leonard Wood Recruit Training Center. The article specifically discusses the training center’s use of tags and readers when ordering uniform items from the DLA. With the exception of low-cost items such as socks, all assets are individual tagged and tracked to ensure orders to the training center are both accurate and efficiently filled. Once on site, the tags allow individual trainees to pack duffle bags with necessary uniform items. Readers placed at a checkout counter ensure that the trainees have all necessary items before they depart. It’s a solution that makes managing tens of thousands of individual assets possible.

            Despite the timeliness of the article, item-level radio frequency identification isn’t a new technology. Another article written in RFID Journal focused on our Odyssey defense commerce solution software being used at Wellco, a manufacturer of combat boots that provides assets to the U.S. Air Force. This article, written in 2013, describes the process of tags being affixed to individual pairs of boots before being loaded onto cartons that are also given tags. These carton tags are married to the individual Item tags on each pair of boots that comprise the carton Item Level RFID solutionsthrough a process called aggregation. Cartons are then placed on pallets at the tune of about 16 cartons per pallet. You can probably guess the next step. An RFID label is then attached to the pallet and married to all the tags contained within that pallet. The boots can then easily be shipped in bulk while allowing workers to track them on an individual level once they arrive at their destination.

            Wellco’s item-level integration came as a necessity in early 2012 when the DoD requested tags on every pair of boots. So while the change was a necessity, the DoD knew what they were doing asking them to switch to this system. Previously, Wellco, and similar suppliers, would need to both receive and fill orders manually, electronically entering the data. With the sheer volume of boots moving at any given time, manual tracking welcomed the opportunity for errors, some requiring significant amounts of time to locate and rectify. By utilizing Odyssey’s cloud based software platform, along with RF tags and readers, the entire operation’s efficiency increased significantly.

            While Odyssey exclusively operates within the defense industry, we recognized that the benefits of item level tracking via software_integrationradio frequency identification are far-reaching. We live in a connected world, one where people and assets can be moved to different continents in mere hours. Because of this connectivity, both DoD suppliers and retailers are in positions to move massive amounts of inventory to locations all around the world. By using passive RF technology that inventory is assured to arrive in its accurate physical and corresponding data entirety (barring an external incident during the shipping process), in a manner that takes human error out of the equation. As the popularity of the technology continues to grow, we foresee more companies seeing the benefits of RFID for internal purposes and integrating it into their own asset/property management functions. We’re excited to be among the pioneers of this growth as organizations begin to reverse the current positive externalities associated with radio frequency identification.

Topics: DoD approved software, dod compliance, RFID Software, RFID, MIL-STD 129R, Item level RFID, Passive RFID

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

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 RFID and 'Outside The Box' Solutions

Posted by James Lusk on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

Last month we featured a blog article discussing two frequent challenges with RFID commerce compliance experienced by DoD suppliers. These two common, and very specific challenges, involve proof of delivery and the GSA transfer to DLA. While we saw these two obstacles on a recurring basis, the truth is that RFID technology is continually evolving and there are still many challenges yet to be overcome.DoD approved software

            We, of course, strive to be RFID experts, but it may be more accurate to say we’re on the side of pioneers. The potential that RFID technology has is multifaceted and we feel as if the surface has barely been scratched. Pioneers are critical to evolving tech because they continually say, “How can we make this better?” That’s what we’re looking to do. We recognize that RFID still has a long way to go in order to be completely user friendly and, because of that, we’re always looking for ways to make our Odyssey software even more convenient.

 We’re certainly not the only RFID pioneers, either. Scientists in Antarctica are currently using passive RFID tags to study large groups of Emperor Penguins. Passive RFID is an inexpensive and precise way to collect the data they need. Passive tags are also much smaller than other methods (such as active tags), and disturb the animals to a smaller degree. Unfortunately, passive RFID isn’t always efficient, as the tags located inside the penguins need to be close to a handheld reader/interrogator in order for the data to be collected. Previously, the scientists were required to walk into these large groups of penguins with the reader, which led to elevated stress levels in the penguins and potentially contributed to erratic behavior. Knowing that the reader needed to be close to the tags, the scientists started thinking outside the box. Their idea? Stick the reader on a small remote-controlled car and drive into the penguin crowds. Using this method, the scientists noted that the animals’ stress levels were significantly lower than when they had brought the reader in on foot, but they still thought they could do better. In an almost comical move, they attached a stuffed baby penguin, loosely resembling a young Emperor Penguin to the top of the toy car. The result was little to no elevated levels of stress amongst the penguins. The scientists now spend their days driving these penguin cars around different groups and collecting the data stored in the various tags.

            This story is pretty comical and, on the surface, doesn’t seem to relate to DoD supplier compliance in the least, but these scientists ran into limitations with RFID that needed to be addressed and they overcame them. We’re doing the same thing at Odyssey. We’re looking at the challenges and finding creative solutions.

RFID Solution Examples:

RFID tags are composed of 24 characters, which appear as random numbers and letters. The monumental opportunity for human error in transposing these tags is negated by Odyssey’s proprietary software marshaling the tag in conjunction with electronically received contract data and user managed shipment composition. That means that RFID data can be sent to the DoD with 100% accuracy without the supplier having to touch a single digit.

RFID cloud solutoions

 Reading RFID tags in some environments, much like the example story, can also be challenging. For example, some Odyssey partners work in C&T and are required to pack 50-item level RFID in a box. The devices tasked with reading these RFID work well at this pack level with no concerns. But when the organizations receive a new contract whereby 200-item level RFID are now packed in a box, the task of reading these tags or aggregating them out of the box and allocating them to a contract becomes diametrically more complex.

RFID tags have fickle tendencies, and densely packed items can easily affect their readability. In order to overcome this environmental and contractual challenge ODYSSEY has developed its 4th generation Aggre-Cart solution for Item Level RFID processing.

Yes, RFID tags require special printers in order to be encoded and produced. Odyssey is a licensed Zebra dealer and offers these printers to clients, providing a complete turnkey solution if that is the desire.  Odyssey has also developed an architecture if these printers don’t fit into our clients’ budgets. Clients have the opportunity to have their created tags print at our warehouse in real time and shipped to them directly, meaning they won’t need a printer on-site.

Successful DoD compliance typically involves a lot of asynchronistic activities or multiple pieces of unrelated software required to meet the DoD mandate; we have dubbed this the “Swivel Chair Syndrome.” Instead of downloading software to a single computer that must be shared across departments or purchasing multiple pieces of software only designed to handle one piece of theRFID SaaS Solutions process, Odyssey’s software is web-based, allowing access to it from any computer or mobile device, no matter where users are. The same services can be accessed from opposite sides of the building or from any location outside the supplier’s facility, as long as the Internet is available.

 We believe that we’ve made a lot of strides in making the ever-evolving nature of RFID technology more accessible, but we also know there’s plenty more to do. We’re not only looking to maintain our creative DoD approved SaaS platform ,but also continually seeking to implement more ways to make our clients’ DoD compliance experience efficient and effective.

Topics: DoD approved software, RFID, RFID Software, MIL-STD-129, dod compliance, MIL-STD 129R, VAN, Value Added Networks

DoD RFID and Commerce Compliance; Two Common Challenges

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

We want to start off by saying that we love RFID technology. We probably love it more than most people will ever realize. But as great as that affection is, we do recognize that there can be challenges in utilizing it correctly. Lately, we’ve noticed that prospective clients have been calling us with two specific issues related to the DoD Commerce process.DoD Software

1. ‘proof of delivery.’ Essentially, suppliers aren’t getting paid for the goods they’re shipping until they are able to prove the shipment occurred and was delivered.

2. the General Service Administration (GSA) recently transferring management of their contracts to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

      These two issues, if not approached correctly, can throw a wrench into the machine of any supplier looking to ship their products in the most efficient manor possible. The complications seem to loom large, but they don’t look like obstacles to us, because we’ve specifically developed our Odyssey software to counteract such scenarios. Allow us to explain.

      We’ll start with 'proof of delivery', as this tends to be more of a widespread issue. When a DoD supplier sends something to the Government that requires a RFID tag they must ensure that the information they provide is 100 percent accurate. If the label data isn’t inputted correctly into Wide Area Workflow (WAWF), the supplier won’t find out until they see they haven’t been paid, which may be 30 days later.  Contacting the Government in this case often doesn’t solve the problem either. Without proper tags/MIL-STD 129R labels and corresponding database reconciliation, there’s no way for the receiving agency to properly accept the shipment. The supplier is left to search through their files, make sure they’re organized, get a copy of the packing slip, and shippers receipt label (UPS, FEDEX etc.) and send to DLA. Needless to say, this situation, that we have dubbed ‘forensic accounting,’ is all too easy to fall into, and can cause a variety of issues that include accounting and wasted resources.

      A RFID tag is composed of 24 characters and can easily succumb to human error when being transposed or hand entered into WAWF. Since RFID technology only works properly when it’s being used 100% accurately, a little bit of human error can cause a lot of headache. This is supremely easy to fix, however. Odyssey’s proprietary software combats this issue by marshaling the tag data within its software and in conjunction with electronically received contract data. Odyssey’s customers don’t have to touch the tag, which means the information can be sent to the DoD with 100% accuracy. Issues with proof of delivery become completely nonexistent. Wondering whether or not the information that’s been sent to the DoD is correct, and waiting a month hoping to receive payment, becomes a thing of the past.

       The second issue that we’ve seen recently deals with suppliers of products whose contracts were formerly managed by GSA, such as, but not limited to, paints and adhesives. These contractors are suddenly faced with a slew of new label and data requirements they need to meet. DLA began managing these former GSA contracts approximately six months ago. By being thrust into a space they’re not as familiar with, these contractors have struggled with creating the correct labels and processes for invoicing through Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) DoD approved Softward

      Previously, these suppliers would ship orders via a typical commercial shipment company like UPS with no additional label marking requirements. That is no longer the case, however, as the DLA requires MIL-STD 129R case and military shipping labels, scheduling of shipment through the Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) as well as a submission to Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) for shipment notices including composition and payment. Most of these suppliers have never even heard of these military standards and websites, and sudden requirement of their utilization is intimidating. Odyssey can easily step in and provide a solution that’s both quick to learn and easy to operate, which means they won’t lose any time or efficiency shipping their product. This ease and efficiency is born mainly from Odyssey managing compliance behind the scenes. Any person could be pulled off the street and taught how to use the software because the tricky stuff is handled automatically.

      We like to think of ourselves as problem solvers. RFID technology, while practical and efficient, does present challenges to its adopters. The industry as whole is still evolving, and we’re striving to be the foremost leaders within the DoD space. The Odyssey solution eliminates a multitude of issues and inconveniences associated with RFID. We ‘ve recently seen these two specific issues popping up in droves and we want to let suppliers know there is an easy solution to both of them.

 

Watch iRAPT Console VSM Integration Here!

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, RFID, Wide Area Workflow, VSM, MIL-STD-129, dod compliance, MIL-STD 129R

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

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!

 

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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