ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

How Odyssey’s Transaction Services Is a Game Changer

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 @ 11:02 AM

Transaction Services

Contracts with the Department of Defense offer excellent opportunities for businesses. The chance to support members of the United States Armed Forces in their missions, coupled with a steady and consistent demand for supplies contribute to a rewarding and profitable arrangement. In addition, as part of its strategic goals and mission, the DoD actively seeks out opportunities to award contracts to small businesses. In fact, according to its small business procurement scorecard, over 24 percent of the DoD contracts awarded in 2018, an estimated $72 billion, were to small businesses.

But for small businesses who have recently landed a DoD contract without any prior experience, learning and complying with the stringent and numerous specifications required to successfully fulfill each shipment can make or break that business’s future. Specifications for packaging, labeling, tracking and shipping must be followed to the letter to avoid rejected shipments or delayed payments that could put the business in jeopardy.

Odyssey is changing the game for new and existing DoD suppliers with its new Transaction Services. Odyssey’s Transaction Services is a one-off service where Odyssey provides all the required MIL-STD 129 R and (if required) MIL-STD 130 N labels, and loads all required documents into the Defense Logistics Agency’s online invoice and tracking system, iRAPT/ WAWF, on the customer’s behalf. 

Odyssey Transaction Services act as an incubator to help companies that are new to DoD contract work and trying to build their business. The service can also offer support to companies that don’t do a lot of business with the government, perhaps only sending a handful of shipments per year, and simply don’t have the infrastructure in place to ensure compliance. Lastly, Transaction Services can offer existing Odyssey customers the opportunity to process awards that may be one-offs in their environment, such as MIL-STD 130 N UID or MIL-STD 129 R Item Level RFID. If a customer has access to Odyssey software, but not one of the add-on modules, they can engage Odyssey to complete the one-off transaction. This way, the customer avoids having to purchase the entire module. 

Odyssey understands the demands its customers face and created Transaction Services to help facilitate an easier shipping process. Signing up for the Transaction Services is simple, and requires minimum input from the customer. 

The process is as follows: 

  • Customers provide award information and shipment configuration
  • Odyssey provides a quote to perform the work
  • Upon receipt of signed quote, Odyssey will initiate work on the labels and contact the customer to fill in any unknown information (weights, dimensions, etc.)
  • Customer receives proof of labels for approval 
  • Upon approval, Odyssey ships labels to customer or other designated location
  • Customer provides the corresponding government invoice number
  • Odyssey uploads the Advance Ship Notice and Commercial Invoice via server-to-server integration, together representing a combo or any other form of submission required by the contract

There is a one-time fee for Transaction Services, plus charges for labels and shipping. Odyssey guarantees a 100 percent compliant process and will stand by the transaction until it is accepted in WAWF and the pay cycle has begun. 

To learn more about Odyssey’s Transaction Services, or for any other inquiries about our products and services, contact us

Topics: MIL-STD-129, DoD, Odyssey DCS, department of defense, dod commerce solutions, packaging

What You Need to Know About MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 @ 10:12 AM

DoD shipping standards

If you’re new to doing business with the Department of Defense, a vital lesson to learn upfront is there are very specific requirements that you, as a contractor, are required to comply with to fulfill your contract and receive compensation. Failure to comply with the smallest specification can result in rejected shipments and delayed payments, which could cause major headaches for your business. 

An example of these requirements that frequently cause DoD contractors trouble are the two labeling standards MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N. These DoD-approved standards outline a set of directions for labeling and tracking the shipping of requisitioned supplies and equipment, as well as marking items purchased by the DoD (including text formatting, syntax rules, and where markings should be located). 

Before you begin work on your DoD contract, here’s what you need to know about MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N.

MIL-STD-129R

The current incarnation of this standard, R, is an update to MIL-STD-129 that was made in 2014. MIL-STD-129R replaces linear barcodes on identification labels with machine-readable PDF417 barcode symbols that allow the use of UID labeling (which can be up to 50 characters long – too long for a traditional, linear barcode). This allows large amounts of data to be securely stored on a 2D shipping label. DoD and defense contractors can scan these barcodes automatically, greatly simplifying asset management and tracking. 

The Defense Logistics Agency has created a checklist of 10 key components that must be present, in order, on the shipping label to be compliant with MIL-STD-129R standards. They are as follows:

  1. NSN/NATO stock number
  2. CAGE code
  3. Part Number (identified as PN or P/N)
  4. Item description and nomenclature, exactly as it appears on the contract, purchase order, or requisition
  5. Quantity and UI
  6. Contract number or purchase order number
  7. Military preservation method and date of unit preservation, if applicable
  8. Shelf-life markings, if applicable
  9. Serial number(s), preceded by the abbreviation SER NO
  10. Barcode markings, including NSN and CAGE, if required 2D (PDF417), and serial number

With so many inputs needed, the process of creating MIL-STD-129 obviously has many opportunities to go wrong, resulting in shipping mix-ups, delayed payments, possible non-compliance penalties, and damage your credibility as a preferred vendor.

MIL-STD-130N

After World War II, the organization that would eventually become the Department of Defense created Federal Stock Numbers to facilitate inventory control. These FSNs were 11-digit identifier codes that acted as unique identifiers to military assets. This method was further refined several years later with the Defense Cataloging and Standardization Act, which mandated a single catalogue system for the DoD. The system was successful. To make it official, the DoD published MIL-STD-130N in 1953 to require the uniform application of identification labels to military properties, providing a set of directions for proper marking of items purchased by the DoD. 

The most recent update to this standard, referred to as Change 1, occurred in 2012 and established the UID unique identifier data matrix requirement to allow for easier automated data capture. This unique identifier follows an asset throughout its entire lifecycle for easier tracking. This system greatly enhances inventory control and visibility. However, like MIL-STD-129R, the asset marking requirements set forth in MIL-STD-130N can be complex and difficult to manage.

What you need to know about managing these requirements

Managing MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N means reducing errors, and the key to reducing errors is limiting the opportunity for them to occur. If your current operations involve a great amount of manual data entry, consider introducing automation into this process to reduce human error and streamline information exchange. 

Odyssey’s products are made specifically for defense contractors trying to maintain MIL-STD-129R and MIL-STD-130N compliance. They automate data entry, label printing, UID validation and registry submission, and can even facilitate payments and future reordering. Learn more about how Odyssey can streamline your operations, reducing risk, and protecting your cash flow. Contact us today.

Topics: MIL-STD-129, DoD, Odyssey DCS, department of defense, dod commerce solutions, packaging

What Vendors Should Know About TLS Contracts, And How Odyssey's KOP Module Can help

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Nov 20, 2019 @ 11:11 AM

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What's TLS?

The DLA’s Tailored Logistical Support program provides total logistics support and procurement for government customers. Vendors who qualify for this program are placed on a short list, and have the opportunity to bid and win contracts with the Department of Defense, federal agencies, state and local governments, as well as other authorized customers around the world. A wide variety of both military and commercial products, training and services are available for the TLS program. Examples include contracts for tactical equipment and supplies, safety equipment, hazardous material response training and maintenance, repair and operations.

What are the obstacles to success?

Being a TLS contractor is a coveted position! Future business, and plenty of it, is essentially assured- but only if you play by the rules. TLS contractors are required to send data in Electronic Data Interchange format, which on occasion can cause errors (especially if the contractor uses a separate enterprise resource planning tool). In addition, contractors are also required to conform to MIL-129 r labeling standards. Failure to abide by any of the rules can result in delays, refused shipments and unpaid invoices.

How can Odyssey help? 

To address these issues, and help ensure that TLS contractors’ business operations remain profitable, Odyssey developed the KOP Module. The module is a sophisticated, EDI-centric compliance and efficiency tool. It provides superb handling of exceptions, assuring contractors that all of their electronic transactions and MIL-129 r labels will be correct and result in paid invoices. 

Odyssey’s KOP Module is aided by an easy-to-use interface, which grants users the ability to see the entire transaction. Contractors have full visibility of all of their open orders, as well as detailed information on each specific order. Orders can be sorted and filtered by characteristics such as ID number, payment status and invoice amount. In the event of any inaccuracies resulting from human error or bad data, personnel can manually correct the errors without prior knowledge of EDI. 

Odyssey screengrab

Since the KOP Module automates EDI transmissions, contractors can continue working in their own ERP and utilize the KOP Module as a point of reference or for exception handling. 

Contact Odyssey today to learn more about how our KOP Module can help your business make every TLS contract a profitable one.

Topics: MIL-STD-129, DoD, Odyssey DCS, department of defense, dod commerce solutions, packaging, KOP Module, TLS Contracts

What You Need to Know About ASTM D3951

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Aug 1, 2019 @ 11:08 AM

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Most military suppliers likely cringe at the mention of packaging specifications like ASTM D3951. Being a supplier for the Department of Defense can be very rewarding for a manufacturer, as the defense industry is a secure and steadily growing multi-billion dollar industry. However, the heavy regulations that govern nearly every aspect of packaging and labeling can cost suppliers enough time and money to make that DoD contract seem far less attractive.

In the Past, This Drove Packaging Out-Of-House

In the past, these stringent regulations on packaging and labeling caused most suppliers to outsource the work to 3rdparty packaging houses that specialize in DoD packaging and labeling. While this adds an additional cost, making the work less profitable, for many suppliers it was necessary to avoid having to deal with the mountain of specifications for physical packaging.

So what does the newest incarnation of these packaging specifications, ASTM D3951, mean for suppliers today?

It’s Likely Not What You Think

What many suppliers might not know is that things have changed. ASTM D3951 is the newest document defining standard practice for commercial packaging of supplies and equipment for DoD contracts. It represents a fundamental shift away from the endless standards for every aspect of packaging. Under ASTM D3951, the DoD’s new relaxed guidelines for packaging place trust in the suppliers’ knowledge of the product they manufacture, and the best way to package it so it will arrive safely.

What Does This Mean For Me?

ASTM D3951 removes one of the obstacles that forced suppliers to outsource their packaging. The other obstacle, labeling, is now the main reason many continue to pay packaging house fees to fulfill their DoD contract work.

With Odyssey’s labeling solutions, suppliers can ensure compliance with all government requirements with just a few clicks. So there’s no longer a reason you can’t bring all your packaging and labeling work in-house, and increase margins for your DoD contracts.

To learn more about how Odyssey can help you cut operating costs and ensure compliance, get in touch with the experts at Odyssey today.

Topics: dod compliance, DoD, labels, department of defense, packaging, ASTM D3951