As I write this entry, I’m traveling back from a very large US manufacturer and supplier to the Department of Defense. I’ll remain vague in describing the company to protect the innocent, however, it’s safe to say that they are in a business that requires an extraordinary amount of precision and discipline. As we prepared for the site visit to this company, it became obvious to me the commonality between implementing IUID (Item Unique Identification, although I’ll refer to it as UID going forward) and a manufacturing operation much like the one we were about to visit. What’s the common thread? Making critical decisions based upon precision data. In their business, accuracy is critical. Low to zero tolerances are the norm. Fast forward to the meeting and our discussions quickly moved beyond the UID compliance obligation, DFARs 252.211-7003, and MIL STD 130N discussions and into benefits of UID to their organization. I was impressed with how quickly this organization acknowledged UID benefits to precisely and accurately tracking parts through manufacturing, production, final assembly as well as back through maintenance and repair cycles. All facets of the company were represented including materials management, maintenance, logistics, supply chain, contracts, and IT. Without question, this represented a very diverse group to tackle the UID initiative laid out by DoD.
By the end of the conversation, we were back into the stage of UID that I call ‘laying the foundation’. This includes topics such as software infrastructure, process analysis, production of UID labels and plates, material-types, direct part marking of UID, and hardware requirements. However, the seeds of precision data had been planted and now needed to settle in. I am very optimistic that this organization will embrace UID well beyond their DFARS requirement in their contract. This will absolutely make them more competitive as an organization into the future.