Today I am flying to Orlando for the semi-annual UID Forum. I will also be meeting with various branches of the military as well as members of the UID Suppliers Alliance. We anticipate a significant show as attendance has swollen to over 850. Each of those attendees has been charged with the implementation of MIL STD 130 – the DoD’s UID, in one way or another.

I fully expect to see examples of both mature and early stage UID adoption. In the mature category there will be various types of part marking on highly durable materials. For example, laser marking in production-like environments has been radically transformed over the past five years. Also, there will be the tried and true methods of marking on aluminum using Metalphoto®.

Another area of mature UID adoption is the use of quality controls such as verification and validation as key to marking in an “opportunistic” or “seek and apply” marking environment. A note of caution here: We still see operations that rely too heavily on the validation process AFTER the mark has been created. Best practice calls for the checking of data integrity BEFORE the initiation of the marking process.

The maturation of marking on highly durable materials and the use of quality controls have resulted in enormous output capacity for the creation of highly reliable UID labels and plates.

In the early stage UID adoption category, we still struggle with cost effective approaches to broad scale legacy item marking. Two reasons for this are engineering requirements and physical access to legacy equipment for consistent UID marking.

Another early stage logjam is a failure to leverage Automatic Information Systems (AIS) to track items through the “value chain.” DoD has been doing a better job of articulating the automatic data collection/UID value proposition for highly manual processes, but the systems to support successful implementation have a long way to go.

I’ll plan to provide an update to these observations, with an eye to both military and industry innovation, as the week progresses