UID: Unique Identification

Unique Identification, or UID, assigns permanent and unique serial numbers to parts and components to provide accurate service and maintenance information to the Department of Defense.   In fact, more suppliers are being required by the DoD to apply UID marks at factories to ensure efficient tracking.  UID information is encoded in a Data Matrix 2D barcode like the one below because this symbol can encode required information in a very small space.  Data Matrix can also be read well in low-light conditions and when the symbol is obscured or damaged.  There are many methods for UID marking, including:

  • Direct Part Marking– the use of laser etching, dot peening, chemical etching, laser bonding, or ink jet printing to permanently place a symbol directly on an asset
  • Data Plates– plates are attached to assets with screws, adhesive or bolts
  • Adhesive Labels– typically labels made from polyester or foil are attached to assets with adhesive

UID marking has proven to be an effective way to reduce lost goods, save time in service and maintenance and streamline data.  Although the DoD is aggressively expanding their use of UID, it doesn’t help the millions of legacy assets already deployed that aren’t currently marked.  The Intermec white paper A Practical Approach to Applying UID Marks to Legacy Assets provides information about the solution that Intermec and the U.S. Coast Guard developed to meet the needs of legacy marking.