Property accountability, a phrase that the Department of Defense uses frequently, is tough to understand. I like to use a more simple reference: “What do I have and where is it?” IUID and barcode technology do a tremendous job of answering those questions, whether in a unit, a company or an enterprise.
By way of analogy, I like to relate IUID to the organizational equivalent of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (breathing, food, and water). IUID satisfies a “basic” fundamental need. And, as with the evolutionary levels in Maslow’s pyramid, IUID can provide so much more than answer the fundamental, “What do I have and where is it?”
When implemented and used correctly, it can answer questions such as “Who has had it?” and “Where has it been and under what operating conditions?” It can also answer questions such as “How many times has it come in for repair or maintenance?” and enables one of the higher levels of self-actualization for items, equipment, and property – that of predictive failures. Imagine for a moment that you are a CH47 (Chinook) helicopter pilot and your maintenance team has seen a key transmission gear fail with regularity. After the third repair cycle, it is almost certain to “go” at the most unexpected time and when lives are on the line. As a pilot, you would most certainly do whatever it takes to acquire reliable and actionable information.
Property accountability may be the motivation to get IUID off the ground in the first place, but when the basics are put in place, a much higher level of organizational productivity can be achieved with the technology.