In 2014, the US Military documented a Strategy for Improving DoD Asset Visibility. This strategy integrates Department-wide efforts to improve asset visibility, reduce supply chain risk and improve logistics decision making.

The Strategy creates a framework whereby the Components work collaboratively to identify improvement opportunities and capability gaps as well as leverage automatic identification technology (AIT) capabilities, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and item unique identification (IUID). These capabilities aid in providing timely, accurate, and actionable information about the location, quantity and status of assets.

-Assistant Secretary of Defense, Logistics and Materiel Readiness

The federal government has acknowledged and understands the need to leverage automatic identification (Auto ID) technology such as barcode and RFID in order to accomplish these mission-readiness goals. The DoD’s path to full scale implementation of barcode and RFID started over 10 years ago and the demands to maintain ever tighter inventory controls in austere budget environments are more significant today than when the policies began.

The Role of RFID

RFID plays a key role in maintaining visibility of in-transit shipments of military equipment and supplies when being transported. Due to the complexities of military shipments, three levels of nested relationships often need to be maintained to gain visibility of shipment location and contents. These shipment identification standards are clearly defined by the DoD’s MIL-STD 129The three asset identification levels are:

  • Unit level identification
  • Case level identification
  • Pallet level identification

RFID helps maintain these inter-relationships while automating movement visibility when assets move through key choke-points in the supply chain. The Defense Logistic Agency, or DLA, is responsible for the procurement of $34B in military goods and services annually and acts as the primary logistics arm of the military. The DLA has invested in and is committed to fixed RFID infrastructure to capture RFID tag data for shipments in and out of their facilities, providing instantaneous status upon the arrival of their goods and equipment.

Auto ID Standards

Standards play a key role in making all levels of Auto ID technology work. These Auto ID standards apply to both Barcode (referred to as IUID – Item Unique Identification in the Military) for asset identification and RFID for shipment identification. In the US Military, these standards are outlined in the IUID Policy and further clarified in the Military Standards 129 and 130.

Source-Marking requires that the initial manufacturers and shippers of goods and equipment include these barcode and RFID technologies on all shipments going to the federal government so that downstream logisticians and property managers can benefit. Source-Marking strategies would not be possible without a standards based approach to requiring suppliers and contractors to be embedding Auto ID into these shipments.

As the CEO of A2B Tracking, a company that develops cloud-based systems to maintain these asset and shipment identification standards, I see the importance of using standards to implement Auto ID technology that can be leveraged across all facets of the supply chain and when goods and equipment have entered inventory.

This week at RFID Journal LIVE I have been asked to speak during the AIM Data Capture Workshop. One of the sessions that I am hosting on Thursday will address Auto ID standards and regulations.  Specifically, we will be focusing on the standards and regulations that the DoD, FDA and the AIAG have set in place for Auto ID. We will walk you through what you need to know to implement global asset visibility, how to maintain compliance and how these standards apply to your organization regardless of your industry. I hope that you will join me.