This is the mission of the Department of Defense�s (DoD) Automatic Identification Technologies (AIT) program.
Even for the inventor of electronic data interchange (EDI), the DoD found that electronic messages don�t always keep up with the movement of freight. Even with 90% of shipments supported by electronic documentation, the AIT program found that it needed something more to support its mission. The solution? To mark shipping containers with 2D barcodes.
With a mature EDI infrastructure in place, you might ask why the DoD needs 2D barcodes on shipping containers. Won�t a linear license plate that links to the EDI file be sufficient? The answer is no.
With increased efficiencies in shipping and transportation, particularly between DoD facilities, many shipments arrive at transportation nodes (air base and naval terminals, DLA depots, theatre distribution centers and destination bases) before accompanying electronic documents. And in situations such as deployment to an active theatre, telecommunications bandwidth for EDI isn�t always available.
Without 2D, clerks must key information into transportation systems from paper documents � with an error rate of one in 80 keystrokes. This means that virtually every manually-processed shipment contains a data entry error. These errors lead to frustrated shipments and reduce worker productivity.
With PDF417, undocumented shipments flow unhindered through the supply chain. Employees scan shipping containers at transportation nodes for routing and tracking purposes. Freight makes its planned departure every time. Nodes further down the chain receive advanced delivery notices to plan space on outgoing planes, trucks or ships. Productivity hums along.
A full scale, multi-service test of this process is currently under way in the European (EUCOM) theatre supply chain. Called the EUCOM test, 2D shipping labels are applied at Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) depots in the US and are scanned at Air Force, Navy and Army transportation nodes while in route to Europe. Serviceman save precious time receiving goods at Army, Navy and Marine Corps warehouses and store rooms in Europe, ending the cross Atlantic journey.
Labels are scanned into a variety of legacy systems using batch or radio terminals containing Symbol�s high performance SE2000/PL220 scan engine/decoder.
The Symbol Summary: AIT EUCOM Test
EUCOM test transportation nodes and distribution centers use batch and radio data capture to receive and track freight. PDF417 container labels contain detailed routing and line item information, serving as a backup to a mature EDI network as well as a paper EDI network segment that fills wired network gaps in the supply chain.
Batch and radio mobile terminals, featuring Symbol�s SE2000 2D scan engine, connected to AIT�s business process server or other legacy system.
DLA Susquahanna depot, various transportation nodes (Dover and Ramstein Air Bases, Norfolk Naval Base, Aviano Naval Air Station, Army Theatre Distribution Center (Europe)) and various Army and Navy destination bases throughout Europe.
The PDF417 shipping labels eliminate manual data entry of shipments information, reducing frustrated shipments via increased data accuracy and improving productivity.
Bob Grabowski is a 2D business development manager for Symbol Technologies Inc. Bob can be reached at 800-927-9626 or