ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

RFID Solutions Need a Consultative Approach

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 @ 14:07 PM

Earlier this month RFID Journal published an article titled “One Small Retailer Abandons RFID,” in which Mark Roberti discusses Peltz Shoes’ adoption and abandonment of item-level RFID tracking. In an infantile industry, where most of the news we see is on the progression of the technology, something like this stands out from the media noise, and it’s worth taking a look at.

            Peltz Shoes jumped on the item-level RFID train five years ago by tagging every box of shoes and, according to the company, saving 1,500 man-hours of labor. Sounds great, right? The results certainly mirror DoD_Sealwhat we’ve heard from other retailers using item-level tracking. So why is this particular company ditching the technology?

            One of the primary issues Peltz cites in their release is “…if an associate mistakenly puts the wrong label on a box, the inventory would not be counted correctly.” They go on to say that this mislabeling was causing unexpected labor costs because employees had to remove the incorrect tags and appropriately re-label each box. This absolutely sounds like a frustrating situation, but it also reveals a lot about why the company abandoned the technology.

            Picture this: an ice cream truck service outfits all of their trucks with new refrigerators that reduce the energy costs needed to keep their ice cream cool. A week later the company is forced to order hundreds of pounds of additional ice cream because large amounts of their current stock melted in the new refrigerators. Upon inspection it is revealed that the ice cream melted because truck drivers failed to correctly close the doors. The company, upset because of the revenue loss, gets rid of the new refrigerators and goes back to the old models.

            We’re not coming down on Peltz, merely pointing out that their press release, and their ditching of RFID, has less to do with the technology and everything to do with the people operating it or the software interface itself. If a tag is placed on the wrong box it won’t properly track the asset inside, no matter how perfect the tag is. That’s a problem because humans can’t be void of the process. Someone has to make sure tags are printed correctly, and then someone has to make sure they’re placed on the appropriate assets. A mistake there brings the entire system down.

            As crippling as human error can be to this process, there are ways to mitigate the chance of catastrophe. For example, when we built the Odyssey software we knew that not every company operates in the same way. Isoftware_integrationt would have been impossible to create a one-size-fits-all solution. So when we created Odyssey (and herein lies the value of the platform), we made sure that it was malleable enough to conform to the needs of each of our clients. That process begins by us taking a consultative approach to understanding where human error traps can occur for individual companies, solving the problem, then pushing that solution out to every client.

            We like to look at the RFID space like the Wild, Wild West. It’s a brave new frontier populated not by experts, but pioneers. The technology is in a critical state of evolution, one that requires adopters to be involved. As we look at individual companies, figure out where their issues are occurring, and create solutions, we understand that there is value to those solutions for every other company. We believe that vigilant discovery and creation of solutions, shared with all of our clients, is the key to smooth operations within the RFID space. The cliché, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” fits nicely here because of course there will be speed bumps, but that doesn’t quell the usefulness of the technology.

Topics: RFID Software, RFID, Item level RFID

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

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

Passive RFID growth beyond the DoD

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

If you’re in the business of passive RFID, and we certainly are, the future looks bright. According to an article from IDTechEx, the passive RFID industry has grown by 1.12 billion tags in 2014 to a total of 6.9 billion. This growth, roughly 17%, would be encouraging in its own right, but other firms are also predicting a similar trend of growth over the next decade or so.DoD approved software

            IDTechEx estimates the total RFID market is worth around $8.89 billion, over $1 billion more than it was worth last year. This is an umbrella figure that includes all forms of RFID tags, readers, software, services, etc. They forecast that the current growth trend would see the industry valued at around $27.31 billion by 2024.

            One of the major industries pushing the adoption of RFID technology is retail, which the new report “RFID Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2014-2024 says will surpass the use of 25 billion tags by 2020. Among the biggest players using RFID tags in retail is Marks & Spencer out of the UK, announcing that it will consume approximately 400 million tags by the end of 2014, which equates to over 30% of this year’s new consumption. That may seem impressive, but those figures pale in comparison to the plans Spain-based clothing company, Zara, has over the next couple of years. The retailer giant is currently in the process of a chain-wide RFID adoption with the goal of utilizing the technology in roughly 2,000 stores. Zara, who also consumed hundreds of millions of tags this year, expects to have 1,000 stores using RFID by the end of the year, with all 2,000 stores operating on RFID by 2016. If these numbers hold true, Zara alone could be using more than a billion tags annually.

            Why are we getting so excited about retail using these tags? We obviously don’t work within that industry, but it’s safe to say that we have vested interest in RFID. Naturally, the more attention this technology receives, the more industries and companies that adopt it, the more innovation we’ll likely see. As we mentioned in our last blog post, RFID technology is still very much evolving and those working with it are pioneering the industry. The more capital that gets put into the industry and the more people who are working to innovate, the quicker this technology will continue to grow.

            Here’s a practical way we envision RFID growing for retail: As of right now, we view retail as the end of an asset’s lifecycle. That is, once someone purchases a shirt, the RFID tag has lived out its current usefulness. With continued adoption, efficiency, and decreasing expense of RFID tags, that technology can be utilized earlier and earlier in the asset’s manufacturing cycle, which is something we do specialize in. Think of it this way: right now, retailers use tags to track on-shelf assets. Coupled with software solutions, RFID technology will let retailers know when they’re running low on large t-shirts so they can order more. But what if they started tracking the raw materials for those large shirts, earlier in the manufacturing cycle? They could better keep track of how much fabric they’ll ultimately need, status of goods in production, shipping, etc. The entirePrivate Cloud SaaS process would streamline costs as it adds visibility to the fabrication process, all while reducing errors.

            While we mainly work with clients on their DoD compliance needs, we also recognize that doesn’t always represent 100% of a company’s revenue. The over arching success and adoption of this technology will allow organizations to  leverage Odyssey’s software to help implement RFID for their own purposes during the manufacturing, inventory and shipping processes. The simple formula is: the more that RFID is adopted and the more cost-efficient it becomes, the more the technology can be implemented earlier in the manufacturing cycle of assets. That means more opportunity for Odyssey to make RFID processes simpler for companies. We like that math.

            At Odyssey, we seek to be amongst the leading RFID pioneers. Our primary goal in building our proprietary software is to make RFID, in its current state, easier to manage. RFID goes a long way in eliminating headaches in item level tracking, but utilizing it correctly can be encumbering. We believe that one of the most important steps we can take is to make the technology more accessible and easier to work with. We’re excited about the direction RFID is headed, and if these numbers hold true, we’ll be excited for quite awhile.

 

5 Tips to remember  when evaluating  software solutions

Topics: DoD approved software, RFID, RFID Software, dod compliance, Passive RFID

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

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!

 

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

The Goal and Purpose of VSM

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, May 20, 2014 @ 16:05 PM

If a company or person has been working within the DoD space for any amount of time the Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) formerly known as DPMS is probably somewhat familiar.

If your new to the DoD commerce world and specifically Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) transactions we will attempt to provide some clarity to this piece of the process.

The Vendor Shipment Module or commonly referred to as VSM is a distribution and transportation system that DLA utilizes to support global warfigther efforts. Suppliers access VSM through a web-based portal and registered login information.VSM, DoD Compliance

click here to visit the vsm registration and login page. It is reccomended that each organization register with VSM.

VSM provides DLA the ability to more effectively have in-transit visibility on assests as they move from the vendor to various DLA destinations, ports and ultimately to customers.

VSM was designed in order to provide the most efficient process both physically and fiscally for DLA.

The DLA effort to meet these stated goals is highlighted within VSMs successful implementation resulting in:

  • standard enterprise process
  • reduction of customer wait time
  • reduction of returned/frustrated shipments
  • favorable freight rates

Statistics point to over 2,600 vendors utilizing the system and processing over 100,000 shipments per month. This number is growing rapidly in the wake of the memo dated September 3, 2013 introducing the First Destination Transportation Inatiative.

Maximizing vendor participation increases the economy of scale thus improving the cost savings realized by the government. Cost savings is a mere by-product of deploying human capital in the most efficient manner possible.

In order for the entire supply chain to reach maximum cost savings; efficiencies must be deployed evenly on the vendor and government side of the transaction. Vendors should have the ability to meet these additional requirements as efficiently and effectively as possible.

What about MIL-STD-129 and RFID?

The question often asked is how does utilizing VSM affect the requirement of Military Standard 129 p change 4 specifically RFID?

The answer is that it doesn't. VSM is a valuable, yet additional step in the process. Contracts calling out for Mil-std-129 label requirements including RFID must still be addressed.

DFARS 252.232-7006 and 252.232-7002 and 7003 centered around Passive RFID and electronic submission of payment requests is still activeVSM, WAWF,

The in-transit visibility provided by VSM is not related to the passive RFID mandate which is used to populate Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) for inventory control methodolgy and payment.

It is still very important to address the MIL-STD 129 label requirement. The vendor is also required to submit advance shipment notices (ASN) and commercial invoices (CI), potentially together as a combo directly to WAWF with the appropriate RFID information.

VSM is in addtion too, not in lieu of WAWF

Focusing on the proper completion of these steps will ensure DoD compliance as well as continued high performance vendor scoring and prompt payment.

The government has provided free services and tools for vendors to meet these requirements. Regsitering with the following sites will assist any organizaiton that would like to work in the area of DoD commerce.

Dibbs- DLA Internet Bid Board System

VSM- Vendor Shipment Module

WAWF- Wide Area Workflow

SAM- System for Award Management

Future blog topics will include

  • First Destination Transportation Initiative
  • ASTM D3951 commercial packaging
  • Mil-Std-130N IUID compliance,
  • IUID registry submission
  • UID custodial and lifecycle management

Watch iRAPT Console VSM Integration Here!

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

MIL-STD-129 RFID software expands its reach

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 @ 16:06 PM

The below excerpt is from an article written by Claire Swedberg and featured in the June 3rd online edition RFID Journal. If you would like to review the article in it's original publication and entirety please click here

This piece highlights the efficiency and compliance an integrated solution offers your organization. MIL-STD-129 Defense requirements can be difficult to master but finding a working solution shouldn't. RFID software can have many applications so it is important to balance the requirements of the customer with the needs and capacity of the organization.

The purpose of a software solutions is to allow users the ability to effectively complete tasks in the most efficient manner possible. Far too often the words 'software' and 'solution' are intertwined; as to suggest that all software is a solution

The size of an organization shouldn't dictate its accessiblity to solutions either. Organizations of all sizes and volume of business, agree integrated solutions are far and away the best way to maximize the efforts of their team!

When your working in a niche space such as the Department of Defense (DoD) DLA Troop Support commerce arena one solution providing integration between DLA Dibbs; Vendor Shipment Module (VSM), VIM-ASAP, Wide Area Workflow (WAWF), and the UID registery makes sense.

RFID Gets Boots on the Ground for Air Force

Wellco is using a solution from Odyssey to create passive UHF RFID labels for every pair of boots, case and pallet, and confirms shipping orders are correct by reading those tags before loading goods onto trucks.

by Claire Swedberg
For the past year, Wellco, a Tennessee manufacturer of combat boots, has been ensuring the accuracy of its shipments, as well as complying with a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) mandate, by applying radio frequency identification labels to every pair of boots that it ships to the U.S. Air Force. The company is reading the labels attached to those boots, as well as to the cases and pallets in which they are packed, in order to confirm that the shipments are correct.
Wellco has been a supplier of combat footwear since 1965. The present generation of combat boots come with a rubber-based sole and a rugged high-traction rubber tread. The company recently opened a new facility in Morristown, Tenn., where its boots are packaged prior to being shipped to military agencies.
To fulfill an order, Wellco packs six tagged pairs of boots in a cardboard box and passes the carton down a conveyor, where two sets of RFID readers and antennas capture the tag ID numbers.
To track those boots, Wellco is employing a software and RFID hardware package supplied by defense commerce solutions company Odyssey. As part of that package, Odyssey is providing Avery Dennison ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, Zebra Technologies R110Xi printers and a Printronix SL4M printer to encode the tags. Odyssey's cloud-based hosted RFID software, known as Visual Shipment Builder, then stores data regarding each order, and about every pair of boots being packed in that order that is linked to a tag number. The information can be accessed by the supplier, and can be submitted electronically to the DOD's Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) system. The RFID-based system also includes Alien Technology readers to interrogate tags attached to cases loaded with goods filling a specific order, according to David Mason, a senior network administrator at Tactical Holdings Operations, Wellco's parent company. MIL 129
At the end of the conveyor, a video screen confirms that the boots chosen are correct for the order being filled, and the system prompts a Zebra printer-encoder to generate an adhesive RFID label for that carton.
While the boots are assembled mostly offsite, the products undergo final manufacturing processes onsite, and are then shipped out to the Air Force. At four workstations, operators apply laces, visually confirm the size and style to match the order, and press the prompt in the Odyssey software to print and encode the labels on the Printronix printer. The workers then take those labels and attach one to each pair of boots, on its laces, after which the pairs are placed in individual boxes, with six such boxed pairs loaded into a case.
****click here for remainder of article****

 


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Topics: DoD approved software, RFID, Wide Area Workflow, RFID Software, Item level RFID