The Item Unique Identification (IUID) program, also called Unique identification (UID), was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to streamline the management of sensitive equipment between government sites, suppliers, and contractors. This program is defined by important guidelines that dictate which equipment must be labeled with a unique identifier and how each company should manage the specific requirements.
This post will explain exactly what you should know before purchasing IUID labels for marking your equipment and other assets. We’ll review the basic requirements for the IUID program, including the Unique Identifying Information (UII) that must be included on each asset label. Additional information explaining how to select a proper IUID label is also included to help you evaluate the right components for your operation.
The U.S. DoD defines the details of the IUID program in the document MIL-STD-130N, titled Department of Defense Standard Practice Identification Marking of U.S. Military Property. These instructions include over 50 pages of information including the scope of the program. An IUID marking is required for any item that meets the following criteria:
The use of IUID tags adds additional costs for suppliers and other entities involved in the supply chain for these assets. For this reason, it’s important to clarify if the markings are required or if other traditional tracking formats are acceptable. Overmarking assets can hurt profits, while failing to mark required assets can lead to regulatory fines and other penalties.
The selection of proper IUID labels should be determined based on the specific requirements for each application. Several factors such as the equipment surface and environmental conditions could impact the selection of label material type and design format. We’ve broken down the IUID label buying process into three stages: material selection, design formatting, and tagging. According to the requirements, each tag must remain readable for the lifetime of the asset to which it’s attached.
The material for the IUID label should be chosen based on the expected environmental conditions. Some common examples include exposure to sunlight, dust, rain, saltwater, and corrosive materials. Creating a full list of potential contaminants will help determine which label material is most compatible. Some of the most common IUID label materials are:
The IUID guidelines do not specify a size requirement, so the proper size and shape for the label should be chosen based on the expected scanning parameters. Consider the scanning distances that will be used and the expected placement on the item surface. It’s also important to choose a suitable fabrication style.
The design must also include a properly formatted 2D data matrix barcode that remains readable throughout the asset’s lifetime. Three constructs are defined in the IUID guidelines that define the formatting for the label contents including serialized number formats. Consult the regulations for details about Construct 0, Construct 1, and Construct 2.
Labels can be purchased from a qualified vendor or fabricated in-house with your own equipment. Before finalizing an order, it’s also important to select an attachment method for a label or plate. This may include the use of a compatible adhesive or holes intended for mechanical attachment. The placement of these IUID labels onto the items is another key step. Think carefully about the orientation and location to ensure a good scanning range and proper attachment to the item surface.
The IUID labels you select must be readable for as long as they are used. It’s also important to create inspection procedures to periodically verify that labels are in proper condition. There may also be a need to define cleaning protocols that are especially helpful in dirty environments such as the desert or ocean. With a carefully planned IUID tagging program, you can create a serialized tracking system that meets the DoD’s strict requirements.