Defense suppliers must conform with military packaging specifications and standards to ensure smooth shipments for their products. Securing military contracts can be a complex process that requires a great deal of due diligence and auditing. In many cases, a Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) from the military will be assigned to perform inspections of identified packages prior to shipment. These checks verify that the items, packaging, and markings are properly formatted and prepared for military asset tracking purposes.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and military branches fully understand that the packaging for a shipment is just as important as the item itself. Compliance with military packaging specifications protects these assets from unnecessary damage. As a highly organized entity, the U.S. military has done an excellent job defining all the necessary requirements needed to keep their system functioning at a high level. In this post, we’ll look at military specifications and standards to better understand how they’re used and why they should be an important consideration for any military supplier or contractor.
Military Packaging Specifications
There are several military specifications that pertain to item packaging and related components. As a government supplier or third-party contractor, it’s important to understand these considerations to ensure compliance. The most fundamental of these documents is MIL-STD-2073 DoD Standard Practice for Military Packaging. This standard includes detailed information related to various types of packaging including waterproof bags and heat-sealed packaging. Specific topics covered within MIL-STD-2073 include:
- Military packaging – How to label packages and use the proper tracking techniques to ensure that the enclosed items are not lost or degraded during shipment or storage.
- Military preservation – How to prepare items prior to shipment with steps that may involve cleaning, drying, wrapping, or identification.
- Military packing – How to select the proper exterior container and inner packaging to protect the items being shipped. This also includes weatherproofing and preparing any bracing or strapping for the package.
You will also find additional, detailed instructions for packing, preservation, and transportability of different items. All packages not categorized as immediate use or non-mission critical must meet the packaging guidelines in MIL-STD-2073.
Another important military document is MIL-STD-129, DoD Standard Practice For Military Marking For Shipment and Storage. This information describes how to mark packages properly prior to shipment or placement of the item(s) into storage. Given the highly controlled nature of military assets, it’s essential to select not only the proper packaging but also suitable labels and tags. Metalphoto® anodized aluminum meets several military specifications and is recognized by the National Association of Graphic and Product Identification Manufacturers (GPI) Industry Standards and Practices Manual as the most durable printed aluminum substrate available due to its applicability for extreme environmental conditions and outdoor exposure. Additionally, the U.S. Navy found Metalphoto to have outstanding durability and versatility for permanent asset identification and tracking in tests.
There are several additional standards that may apply to military shipments and should be consulted for additional context. A selection of these documents most relevant to military packaging specifications include:
- DLAR 4145.7 – Packaging of Material
- ASTM D3951 – Standard Practice for Commercial Packaging
- DLAR 4145.04 – DOD Stock Readiness Program
- MIL-STD-147 – DOD Standard Practice, Palletized Unit Loads
- IP025 – Packaging, Marking, and Shipping of Hazardous Materials
- IP027 – Packing and Marking Requirements Federal Stock Class (FSC) 5961 Semiconductors and Hardware Devices and FSC 5962 Electronic Microcircuits
- IP056 – Mercury or Mercury Compounds are Prohibited in Preservation, Packaging, Packing, and Marking
How to Comply with Military Packaging Standards
There are several important steps that a military contractor or supplier can take to ensure compliance with military packaging standards. These regulations are updated on a periodic basis and each company should create relationships with trusted partners and advisors that can routinely share new information. A few of the following resources and suggestions may help in designing your own military packaging procedures.
- Consult With the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The DLA website contains a wealth of great information that is relevant to managing military shipments. As a primary support agency for the military network, this is also a great resource for asking questions and receiving support related to regulatory reviews and training needs.
- Define a Packaging Review Process. It is essential to create a functioning review process for your packaging needs. Documenting such details gives you excellent reference material during an audit and creates an excellent baseline for making future improvements. It is also much easier to correct mistakes in the event of a packaging failure or operational issue.
- Work With a Logistics Partner. A trusted supplier can help you select the proper packaging or markings for your military shipments. These decisions can be challenging, and a partner company will often have extensive experience in the field that you can draw upon during the planning and design phases. Many of these companies also maintain a stock of compliant parts and labels that can be used to prepare your packaging for shipments.
With the proper packaging, military suppliers will be able to create a reliable logistics loop for their products that is fully compliant with military standards. While specifications may be very detailed, they are there to act as a helpful reference to reduce errors and logistics issues. Always take time to review the original source documents and reach out to our team with any questions regarding your military packaging and tagging needs.