Twelve Common Misconceptions of Item Unique Identification (IUID) Implementation

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Often, the first response from someone new to IUID (also known as Unique Identification (UID) of Items in NATO) is, “My situation is special.” And to that I would respond, “You are right, but so is everyone else’s.”  In fact, as DoD developed, with industry, the basic rule set for IUID in 2002-2003, there was overt acceptance that we were enabling “interoperability” versus establishing a single approach. This was a critical rule in all IUID policy. And although it added complexity, it reduced the impact on industry with no net reduction in the capability IUID implementation provides.
In my experience, the top 12 common misconceptions are:

1. DOD Serially Managed means:

A. All items that have a serial number on them – FALSE

  • The serial number on the item may be only used by the manufacturer, but unless DoD has an individual item traceability requirement on that item, the existence of a serial number is not sufficient by itself.

B. Only items that are required to be tracked under the following programs: Serial Number Tracking (SNT), Unique Item Tracking (UIT), Serialized Item Management (SIM) – FALSE

  • Two of these programs (SNT and UIT) pre-date IUID and only reflect some of the DODI 8320.04 mandated requirements.
  • SIM is also not inclusive of all the reasons declared in DODI 8320.04.

DoD Serially Managed applies to all items for which there is an item level traceability requirement at any point throughout its lifecycle. This includes, but is not limited to: issuance/return of a specific item, reporting data against a specific individual item in a maintenance or other logistics system, property accountability, warranty tracking, financial auditability etc

2. I must have consistency in the construct of the UII from all my suppliers because I need the part number from the scan of the IUID compliant mark. – FALSE

A. An IUID compliant mark may contain additional data other than those needed for the UII.  Any of the following options will provide what you need and should be allowed (i.e., Data Identifiers (DIs) are used for illustrative purposes, however similar approaches work with Text Element Identifiers (TEIs) or Application Identifiers (AIs)).

  • A single data element identifier (e.g. 25S), which may have nothing to do with the item itself, followed by the original manufacturer and original part number of the item (e.g, DI’s:   25S+17V +1P).  Note:  Although not advisable, current part information could be included in the IUID compliant mark per MIL-STD-130; however, 130 suggests a second mark for current information that may be updated frequently.
  • Construct 1 (e.g. using TEI’s:   MFR+SER+PNR).
  • Construct 2 (e.g. using DI’s:  17V+1P+S)

B. While you can control the construct used in your own legacy item implementation, it is not allowable to use the original manufacturer’s enterprise identifier to construct the UII unless the original manufacturer explicitly agrees in advance.

  • Since the original manufacturer did not contractually guarantee uniqueness when the unmarked legacy item was delivered, it could later deliver to the government another item with a different part number and serial number that duplicates the UII that the Government assigned the legacy item using that original manufacturer’s enterprise identifier. Then, the government would have to accept the newly delivered item and assume the burden of either correcting the mark and registry data for that item, or the legacy item previously assigned that UII by the Government.
  • Assuming you used the manufacturer’s part number and serial number under a dedicated enterprise identifier, it is still possible that two manufacturers would use different part numbers and serial numbers that result in the same UII.

3. The data elements used to construct the UII were intended to have lasting value as individual data elements as well. – FALSE

A. These data elements have one and only one purpose – to ensure construction of a unique item identifier guaranteed unique by the assigning enterprise at the point of assignment.

4. All the data elements necessary to populate the registry must be encoded in the mark.  – FALSE

A. The required DoD IUID Registry data submit contains too many data elements, and some don’t have the necessary data qualifiers to encode them as required. The data submit is done electronically through iRAPT (formerly WAWF), via direct submit or through direct system-to-system interface.

5. DoD or Component/Service Policy mandates contract requirements for specific data qualifiers or a construct – FALSE

A. The mandatory DFARS Clause for IUID (252.211-7003) specifically states that the government may NOT mandate a contractor to use a specific data qualifier method or UII construct.
B. First of all, requiring activities should not care which construct is used, rather the goal is a UII that is globally unique. If specific data is desired in the IUID compliant mark to support business practices, they can be added as additional data provided there is a data qualifier (e.g. NSN, Original Part Number).

6. DoD can require a contractor to use serial numbers it issues or follow rules of the DoD program office. – ALMOST ALWAYS FALSE

A. The exception to the rule is only where the item in question meets the rules of the Government-Assigned Serialization DFARS Rule 252-211-7008.

7. I don’t have to use the ECC 200 Data Matrix symbol and can opt for other data carriers (e.g. QR Code, Linear Bar Code, RFID, Contact Memory Buttons) – FALSE

A. There is only one minimum IUID compliant mark and that is an IUID Compliant ECC 200 Data Matrix Symbol.
B. Additional data carriers may be used in conjunction to the ECC 200 Data Matrix Symbol where the business case warrants an additional data carrier. One example is where RFID might be used when an IUID required item must be confirmed in a stowed location where line-of-sight to the symbol is not feasible.

8. DoD, Component or Service policy has broad mandates on the method of marking to be used – FALSE

A. Great care was taken in the creation of IUID policy to keep the decision about the marking method and materials where it belongs – in the hands of the engineering activity responsible for the part, since they fully understand the conditions of use, design and material composition.

9. It is not worth the effort to provide the “additional marks” data to the DoD IUID Registry because nobody will ever use it. – FALSE

A. If for any reason the IUID compliant mark is damaged beyond recovery of the UII, the registry cannot always be queried to find the UII for that item without the “additional marks” information.
B. The result will be assignment of a new UII and overstating of the number of items of that type in the DoD IUID Registry, because they don’t know which record to retire now or in the future.
C. It will be nearly impossible to do targeted notifications for recalls, warranty claims or notices of possible technical deficiency or risk of counterfeits based on failures by similar items.

10. No value can be derived for IUID until all items of that type in the DoD IUID Registry are marked and registered. – FALSE

A. This is an assertion generally used to discourage and postpone marking and registration.
B. Localized benefits can be achieved from automatic data capture and reduced errors even if only a fraction of the items are marked and registered.
C. Even within a platform, targeted application of IUID can be used for items of high risk of failure, counterfeit, theft, etc.

11. The registry needs to be updated with a custody change every time an item is shipped. – FALSE

A. When an item is shipped within a Military Service or Defense Agency, it is an internal transfer and does not require a DoD IUID Registry update. It likely does require an internal property accountability systems update.
B. Property transfers between Military Services or Defense Agencies do require an update to the DoD IUID Registry to reflect the new “Owning Service” and of course updates to both the losing and gaining property accountability system. Typically the shipper should provide an update to the DoD IUID Registry. This could be done through iRAPT as a Service to Service transfer. The shipper and receiver BOTH have to have that role established in iRAPT before the transfer can occur. The UII’d item has to ALREADY be in the Registry. The data then flows to the Registry when the receipt acknowledgement occurs.

12. There are no benefits to IUID without having scanners to read the marks. – FALSE

A. While it is clearly true that the benefit of automatic data capture is of significant value and often the focus of implementation, it is not the only benefit.
B. Though not as robust from a data quality standpoint, the machine readable mark is typically coupled with human readable information that may be used.
C. Emphasis on the need for marking and standardization of marking approaches within and across platforms has significant value including providing a focus on marking as an engineering requirement that ensures enduring marking is available through life.
D. IUID applied to both new and legacy marking requires the digital submission of the basic item data, which provides an assured baseline for property accountability systems rather than relying on local data submission.
E. Enables multiple databases to interoperate through a single data key that allows for specialized/tailored databases to operate within a community with particular and separate vocabulary and business rules.  For example energetics folks commonly refer to their hardware by Mk/Mod whereas electronics folks commonly refer to their hardware by part number.
F. IUID also facilitates historical analysis across custody changes, system changes, and re-identification of parts (i.e. reclassifications, renaming and part number roll.
Our goal is to help you better understand UID Compliance. If you have questions regarding UID, feel free to comment below or submit them on our Ask an Expert page.

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