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Item Unique Identification Technology Improving Asset Management

The Army’s web-based property accountability and tracking system, Property Book Unit Supply
Enhanced (PBUSE), has augmented its asset visibility process by incorporating an automated tool that can track the unique item identifier of equipment issued to Soldiers. This new traceability measure is called item unique identification (IUID) technology.

What Is Item Unique Identification?
The simplest way to understand IUID is to think of it as a globally unique serial number. Sometimes, one will hear reference to unique item identifier (UII). Technically, IUID is the system or process by which items are marked and registered, while UII is the data contained in the marking. However, it is common to hear IUID used to refer to both the IUID process and the UII data set. Unlike serial numbers that may be the same for identical items manufactured by different companies, no two military items will contain the same UII.

Why Use IUID in PBUSE?
Using PBUSE to capture UII data for new equipment provides the Army overall transparency of that equipment, from initial funding to final equipment delivery. This is a capability that currently is being managed using extensive spreadsheets.

Essentially, IUID provides the capabilities to track critical assets from cradle to grave based on the type of item or its value. IUID is accomplished by marking each qualifying item with a permanent two-dimensional data matrix barcode label. These permanent markings will be used for logistics and financial tracking purposes. The data matrix is encoded with the data elements needed to construct the UII, which is globally unique and unambiguous.

The data elements required to form a UII include the format identifier, the manufacturer’s identification (CAGE code), and the item’s serial number. If the manufacturer serializes [uses serial numbers] within a part number, that data element will also be encoded. [A commercial and Government entity (CAGE) code is a five-position code that identifies companies that conduct, or want to conduct, business with the U.S. Government.]

What Is the Policy?
Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 8320.03, Unique Identification (UID) Standards for a Net-Centric Department of Defense, dated 23 March 2007, directs that IUID “be used to enhance the capability to gather, organize, and assess information on organizations, materiel assets, people, and places to enable the DoD Components to perform their functions.”

All Army Activities Message 340/2009, Item Unique Identification (IUID) Capabilities in Property, dated 14 December 2009, states the “UII will be used as the common data key to support financial, acquisition, supply, maintenance, and property accountability management within our current and future logistics automated information systems (AIS).”

How Is the UII Entered Into PBUSE?
The new functionality to capture IUID does not change any existing PBUSE processes. The UII supplements item information already resident in PBUSE (such as line item number, national stock number [NSN], and serial number) and does not replace any PBUSE data fields.

UII data can currently be entered into PBUSE using three methods. These three methods do not require user input other than scanning the barcode label:

  • PBUSE Automatic Transaction Process Interface (ATPI).
  • Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA).
  • PBUSE hand-held terminal (HHT).

The ATPI process allows for data entry using an extensible markup language (XML) document. This process provides the capability to capture multiple UIIs on the same transaction. The UII is written into the XML document at the same level as serial numbers. This process is commonly used by the product manager for new acquisitions when issuing equipment to a unit. ATPI instructions and XML examples can be found at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/doc/20987941.

LOGSA extracts the UII, NSN, and serial number for an asset from various sources, including the DOD IUID registry, and then stores this information in its database. A new PBUSE function provides the capability to pull this UII information from the LOGSA IUID Cross Reference File.

The asset NSN and serial number stored in PBUSE must match exactly to the asset record in the LOGSA database. When a match is made, PBUSE is then able to associate the UII to the asset. If no match is made, the record is skipped. Every night, PBUSE will attempt to match existing equipment records with the LOGSA database. The PBUSE serial number record is not updated if a match to an NSN and serial number is not found or if there is any problem with the UII.

The HHT is a commercial off-the-shelf scanner with specific PBUSE automatic identification technology (AIT) software installed. The HHT interacts with the PBUSE enterprise server through the use of a docking station and the AIT client on the laptop. This AIT function permits users to perform automated inventories and to receive and scan barcodes on incoming equipment.

PBUSE Document Processing
PBUSE’s document processing function enables the user to process receipt transactions, initiate lateral transfers (both gaining and losing units), and initiate asset adjustments by using the HHT to scan an item’s IUID marking.

Supply sergeants can now use the HHT to scan UII items, to view the primary hand receipt, and to initiate the process for documenting—

  • Military Standard Requisitioning and Issue Procedures (MILSTRIP) receipts.
  • Lateral transfers.
  • Found-on-installation items.

Once the transactions are initiated on the HHT and are synchronized with the enterprise server, the supply sergeant and property book officer (PBO) can take the appropriate actions for each transaction through the Transaction Suspense List option on the PBUSE AIT menu. Unit supply personnel will review these transactions before sending them to the PBO for processing. Only unit-initiated transactions for property book items will be visible at the PBO level. The PBO then has the option to view, reject, or post them or notify the gaining PBO.

The Defense acquisition system will benefit from the integration of IUID into PBUSE. IUID will enable seamless traceability, financial tracking, and integrity of equipment, thereby improving accuracy and accountability throughout the life-cycle process, which includes funding, distribution, equipment fielding, and asset visibility.

Pablo A. Brown was the system manager for the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced at Software Engineering Center-Lee when he co-wrote this article. He holds a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Liberty University. He is level II certified in program management, information technology, and life-cycle logistics.

John E. Laudan is a systems acquisition specialist working for Software Engineering Center-Lee, where he is the project officer for the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced. He holds a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Canisius College. He is level III certified in program management and in testing and evaluation.

The authors thank Chief Warrant Officer 5 Leslie Carroll, Chris Barbagallo, Lonna Freeland, Paul Bedard, Jerry Glovier, Suhail Ali, Kelly Duncan, and Tony Meyer for their help in preparing this article. Questions about IUID and PBUSE can be directed to the current Software Engineering Center-Lee PBUSE system manager, Joe Burner, at william.burner@us.army.mil or (804) 734−7855.

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