DF-ST-87-06962 The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force.

DF-ST-87-06962
The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force.

To understand the logic behind the US military asset tracking standards and reporting requirements, it is important to understand the strategy behind the DoD’s need for global asset visibility.

The US Military Must Track Inventory All Over the Globe

The Pentagon is responsible for tracking, managing and deploying assets on a global scale—hundreds of millions of assets daily. Accurately accomplishing such a logistical feat everyday—in or out of war zones—requires a robust, standardized process that requires minimal oversight. As such, the Pentagon created an asset identification standard referred to as MIL-STD 130 or IUID and a shipment identification standard referred to as MIL-STD 129. These two standards define the use of automatic identification technology such as barcode and RFID. However, it’s the robust tracking and management software systems which ensure item readiness – not only for visibility into asset location and utilization but also for supply chain monitoring and inventory audits. This ensures assets are not lost or misplaced and can always be accounted for.

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Learn More about The Most Common Misconceptions About IUID and RFID Compliance

Such a robust and regulated tracking methodology accomplishes the DoD’s goal to have total accountability and constant visibility into their asset data throughout the asset’s lifecycle. The DoD created an asset data repository to store these globally unique assets with their identifiers (IUID), asset pedigree and key lifecycle events of the assets. By creating and enforcing the use of IUID Registry for reporting of assets and IUID compliance standards for asset identification, the DoD not only knows where an asset is and what it is but helps track the usage of the item, its state of repair, readiness and past movement. This also provides the DoD the ability to limit asset redundancies and duplicate procurements.

As of 2014, the DoD has created the government system called iRAPT, the gateway for all asset and property data coming from the contractor community. All contract obligations now require any invoice or property transfer to include the reporting of all asset data through iRAPT to the IUID Registry. Contractors are held to this electronic reporting obligation to drive adoption so the military can benefit once assets enter the military environment.

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See What Contractors and Suppliers Need to Know about iRAPT

One of the most basic areas of operation which benefits the military is measuring the performance of vendor products and the management of warranty items. Cataloging, tracking and analyzing this data has allowed the DoD to predict system failure or faulty equipment with a high degree of accuracy. Knowing what equipment is failing, what models, and by what vendor is central to the DoD quality control process.

Understanding the Fine Print: Regulations and Contract Language

The secret to the DoD’s success in accurately tracking and managing mass amounts of assets daily was creating and enforcing strict rules and regulations regarding asset identification and reporting. Under these guidelines, every asset commissioned by the DoD must be marked and cataloged with a specific identification number that the DoD recognizes. In this case, they leveraged the use of ISO to establish the asset identification standard. This standard benefits manufacturers and suppliers because it’s an international standard established precisely for global asset identification as opposed to a specific military standard.

The DoD has implemented specific language in their contracts that requires all military personnel and DoD contractors to account for all critical assets using Item Unique Identification (IUID) barcode labels and plates that satisfy requirements for MIL-STD 130. The makeup of the barcode required for military asset identification–must be in a very specific format that is compliant with MIL-STD 130. This standard explicitly states that the 2D Data Matrix barcode must follow the exact syntax for encoding, and must be readable across various types of scanners.

Not only does each unique item need to be properly marked but it also needs to be reported and electronically submitted to a central system known as iRAPT (Invoicing, Receipt, Acceptance, and Property Transfer). The DoD requires all contractors to submit their data accurately into the iRAPT application to record contracts, invoices and receiving reports to receive payment. Far too often, a contractor will have the IUID labels correct on the shipment but will have failed at registering that same data with the DoD. Understanding how to manage the data in the IUID and iRAPT registration process is critical to a contractor’s success.

Concerned about your role as a government contractor

The US Military maintains one of the largest and most complex supply chains in the world. If you oversee shipment or asset tracking in your organization, knowing the full story of how the Pentagon does it can give you insight to make your tracking systems and processes just as effective.  To go deeper and learn more about how to track assets like (or better than) the Pentagon check out our latest eBook, Unlock Military Secrets: Track and Manage Assets Like the Pentagon.