RFID SUPPLIER INFO & FAQs

RFID Reference Documents:

US Soldier with RFID Reader.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
RFID Technology

RFID Technology

Q: What is RFID?
A: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies facilitate the communication of item identification information via radio waves. RFID tags attached to, or incorporated into, an item hold data uniquely identifying a particular item while in-transit, in-storage, in-use, or in-maintenance. RFID system users retrieve data stored on those tags via communication between tags and readers (fixed or handheld), at a specific time and place. Two types of RFID technologies are currently used in the DoD system — active RFID and passive RFID.

Q: What is the difference between active and passive RFID?
A: An active RFID tag has the ability to produce its own radio signal, not derived from an external radio signal. To generate a radio signal, active tags must employ some source of power; traditionally this has been accomplished by integrated batteries. A passive RFID tag does not have the ability to produce its own radio signal. Instead, passive tags reflect and modulate a carrier signal received from an interrogator. Passive tags do not use an integrated power source, and read distance is limited by the proximity of the tag to a passive reader.

Q: What is the difference between Unique Identification (UID) and Radio Frequency Identification?
A: RFID requirements are independent from UID. Any existing UID label requirements remain regardless of the RFID requirement. RFID requirements do not supersede or replace any other marking/labeling requirements.

The IUID initiative involves assigning a globally unique, unambiguous data set to identify tangible assets to ensure data integrity and quality throughout the life of the product. UID DFARS clauses 252.211.7003 and 252.211.7007 require that a 2D symbol be directly attached to, or embedded into the item. This 2D symbol and the unique identifier it carries becomes a permanent part of the item. The Department of Defense uses 2D symbols to track individual items throughout their entire product lifecycle. Passive RFID DFARS clause 252.211.7006 requires that passive RFID be applied to the packaging for the purpose of asset visibility while in-transit, in-storage, in-use, or in-maintenance. RFID tags are attached to packaging and to larger container consolidation levels. The information contained on the tag is no longer utilized after the packaging or container has been opened.

The most current AIT CONOPS envisions a 2D data matrix as the primary AIT at the item level, which supports the UID program. The AIT CONOPS envisions RFID as the primary AIT at all layers of consolidation or packaging above the item level.

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Passive RFID Frequently Asked Questions
Contractual Requirements

Q: How do I determine if passive RFID tags are required on my shipments to DoD?
A: Three factors determine whether you are required to apply passive RFID tags at the case (exterior container or shipping container) and pallet (palletized unit load) levels. These factors are:

  1. You have a contract with the DoD that contains the passive RFID DFARS clause (DFAR 252.211-7006), or the contracting officer inserted specific language in your contract requiring RFID tags. The most recent version of the passive RFID DFARS clause is available at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/dars/dfars/html/current/252211.htm#252.211-7006.
  2. And your equipment/commodity falls under the classes of supply required to be tagged as described in the passive RFID DFARS clause.
  3. And your equipment/item is being shipped to one of the RFID-enabled/implemented locations listed in the passive DFARS clause or a location specified by the contracting officer in your contract.

Q: Does the policy apply to direct vendor deliveries (DVDs)?
A: See the criteria listed above.

Q: Does DoD RFID policy apply to Foreign Military Sales (FMS)?
A: See the criteria listed above.

Q: Who is permitted to use the Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for RFID technology managed by the PM J-AIT office?
A: Blanket Purchase Agreements are for Department of Defense (Military Services) and selected Government Agency use only. Therefore, contractors/vendors are not permitted to purchase through these BPAs. The PM J-AIT office manages BPAs for internal Government use only.

Q: RFID tagging requirements are based partly on the class of supply of the item. What are the definitions of the different classes?

RFID classifications Image

Q: May I apply Passive RFID tags to all commodities I am shipping to DoD, even if my contract does not contain the DFARS Clause requiring RFID tagging?
A: Yes, with some exceptions. For the purposes of implementing standard business processes, suppliers are allowed to apply passive RFID tags, even in contracts where the DFARS Clause requiring passive RFID tagging has not been included. However, suppliers are not allowed to apply passive RFID tags to the following commodities: Class V (munitions/explosives), Class VIII (pharmaceuticals, biologicals and reagents), bulk commodities, and shipments to locations other than Defense Distribution Depots when the contract includes the clause at FAR 52.213-1, Fast Payment Procedures.

Q: Is the RFID equipment that is currently available for purchase safe for use around personnel?
A: All RFID equipment must be licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and conform to part 15 of the FCC’s Rules and Regulations (47 CFR15), which has requirements to ensure the safety of personnel.

Q: What is DoD doing to address electromagnetic effects and safety concerns surrounding RFID devices?
A: The DoD is committed to the safe and secure use of RFID, both active and passive technology, in the DoD supply chain. To this end, the DoD focuses on the three primary electromagnetic effects that are present with the radio frequency electromagnetic energy propagation that occurs with RFID device use. These three effects are:

HERO — Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Ordnance (munitions)
HERP — Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Personnel
HERF — Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Fuels

Passive RFID technology that the DoD plans to acquire is commercial technology that falls under the specific guidelines of the Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 (Telecommunications) Document 47 CFR 15 cites IEEE C95.1-1991 (see above) as the basis for determining acceptable exposure limits for humans in a radio frequency (RF) energy electromagnetic environment. DoD Instruction 6055.11, the supporting doctrine behind the DoD Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Personnel (HERP) policy also cites IEEE C95.1-1991 as the basis for determining the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for DoD personnel to radiated RF energy. Therefore, equipment certified by the FCC as compliant with 47 CFR 15 will be in compliance with the DoD HERP policy. Once the specific items of passive RFID technology (readers, relays, antennae, tags) have been selected for DoD use and scheduled for placement on appropriate DoD contracted items, appropriate testing will be conducted for each device against the most stringent “worst case scenarios” relating to munitions, and fuels. Following completion of this testing, detailed DoD guidelines will be published with instructions for the safe operational use of this technology.

Q: If a manufacturer ships to a wholesale distributor who then ships to the DoD, who is responsible for applying passive tags to cases and pallets going to the DoD?
A: It is the responsibility of the supplier, with whom the DoD holds the contract, to ensure the passive RFID requirements are met.

Q: What happens if a supplier does not comply with the policy or if materiel is delivered with a faulty (i.e., non-working) passive RFID tag?
A: Contracting officers will work with non-compliant vendors to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of their contracts..

Q: How should the cost of passive RFID be incorporated into the contract?
A: The cost of implementing and operating passive RFID technology is considered a normal cost of business. DoD contractors should work directly with their contracting officers concerning any questions regarding this requirement.

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Standards and Tag Data

Q: What passive RFID standards will DoD accept?
A: The DoD remains committed to supporting commercially available RFID standards to help drive adoption and foster competition for RFID solutions. Since 1 March 2007, the DoD has only accepted UHF Gen 2 EPC standard tags. The frequency range for these tags is 860 to 960 MHz, with a minimum read range of 3 meters. Please visit the EPCglobal Web site http://www.gs1.org/hardware-certification-program to view a list of vendors who manufacture compliant passive RFID hardware (readers, tags and printer/encoders). EPCglobal’s GEN 2 standard has been ratified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as 18000-6C. ISO/IEC 18000-6:2004 defines the air interface for radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices operating in the 860 MHz to 960 MHz Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band used in item management applications. For more information on the technical specifications for passive RFID tags, please see the DoD Suppliers’ Passive RFID Information Guide.

Q: Do I need to join EPCglobal to do business with DoD?
A: While we encourage suppliers to consider the benefits of joining EPCglobal, membership is not a requirement to do business with the DoD. Non-EPCglobal members should encode all passive RFID tags being shipped to the DoD with the DoD tag identity type (see next question).


Q: What serial number information do I input in the "serial number" identity type of the passive RFID tag ID?
A: It is the responsibility of the supplier, with whom the Department holds the contract, to ensure that every RFID tag the supplier ships to the Department is encoded with a globally unique identifier (unique tag ID), regardless of the selected tag encoding scheme. It is never acceptable for a supplier to repeat a tag ID across two or more passive RFID tags.

The “serial number” required in the passive RFID tag ID Identifier does not refer to the serial number of the product being shipped. The “serial number” in the passive RFID tag ID is merely a unique number assigned by the supplier to represent a specific case or pallet. This “serial number”, combined with the supplier’s Government Managed Identifier (or CAGE code), and header values comprise the RFID tag ID. Identifiers are comprised of 4 parts: Header, Filter, Government Managed Identifier, and Serial Number. Acceptable formats are constructed in the following manner:

DoD-96 Identifier

DoD-96 Identifier Image

It is essential to understand that the filter value in the DoD-96 Identifier is not part of the Electronic Product Code. The filter value does not contribute to the unique identity of the EPC. For example, it is not permissible to attach two RFID tags to two different physical objects where both tags contain the same EPC, even if the filter values are different on the two tags.

The following below are the ONLY Headers accepted by the Department of Defense and their corresponding binary codes. Please apply the appropriate header to each tag.

DoD HexadecimalHeader Image

For additional information on acceptable Headers, please see the most recent version of the EPC Tag Data Standard at: http://www.gs1.org/epc/tag-data-standard.

Q: Our company has several different CAGE codes that we ship under, and the CAGE code is required in the identity type. Can we choose one of our CAGE codes for all of our products?
A: You can use either the same CAGE code for all of your products or multiple CAGE codes for each of your products, provided the serial number is unique within the CAGE code. If two or more divisions of the company are writing tags with the same CAGE, they need to ensure they are not using the same serial numbers.

Q: A contractor is awarded a contract and selects a partner (with a different CAGE) to manufacture the product. Is the Prime Contractor’s CAGE or the Subcontractor’s CAGE used on the RFID tag?
A: In this scenario, the CAGE of the entity who ships the product to the DoD should be used on the tag.

Q: The Passive RFID Suppliers' Guide states tags must be "readable at the time of shipment" (v. 11.0, Section 3.1). What exactly does this mean? If pre-printed tags are purchased and stored over a length of time, do they have to be re-verified when they are used?
A: The supplier is required to ensure that the tag he/she affixes to a package is readable. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Tags that were verified as readable at the time of purchase may be used at a later date for shipments. Similarly, passive RFID tag printers establish readability during the printing process (unreadable tags are rejected). Therefore, passive tags created using an RFID printer do not require verification. Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) personnel are not required to review and certify each passive RFID tag.

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Labels and Tagging

Q: How will a supplier know where to place a passive tag on a shipment?
A: Please see MIL-STD 129 for guidance on tag placement.

Q: What exactly is the passive RFID label supposed to look like? I can’t find specifications identifying what should be printed on the surface of the RFID tag (as opposed to what is encoded on the tag).
A: If you are referring to a passive RFID tag that has been embedded in a blank label, there is no specific requirement for human readable components. Some suppliers are printing the RFID Tag ID on the tag label, but this is not required. Another option is to integrate the passive tag with the shipping label. In either case, a separate military shipping label (MSL), as required by MIL-STD 129, must be applied.

Q: Which consolidation layers require the application of a passive RFID tag? In my shipment, 5 units will fit into an intermediate box, and then 8 intermediate boxes will be placed on one pallet.
A: The DFARS clause requires suppliers to affix passive RFID tags to case (exterior container or shipping container) and pallet (palletized unit load) levels. In your example, ‘intermediate box’ would be a case and each box requires a “case” tag. If the 8 boxes are designed to be shrink wrapped and shipped as one unit or “palletized unit load,” then a “pallet” tag would be applied to the shrink wrapped packet. In that instance, all “case” tags must be linked to the “pallet” tag, and an Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN) must be sent via WAWF that details that parent-child relationship. If not consolidated into a pallet, individual cases must be added to the ASN(s). See Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN) section for instructions on how to prepare ASNs for a palletized unit load.

The terms "shipping container," "exterior container," and "palletized unit load" are defined in the MIL-STD 129. The definitions are included here:

  • Exterior Container: A container, bundle, or assembly that is sufficient by reason of material, design, and construction to protect unit packs and intermediate containers and their contents during shipment and storage. It can be a unit pack or a container with a combination of unit packs or intermediate containers. An exterior container may or may not be used as a shipping container.

  • Shipping Container: An exterior container that meets carrier regulations and is of sufficient strength, by reason of material, design, and construction, to be shipped safely without further packing (e.g., wooden boxes or crates, fiber and metal drums, and corrugated and solid fiberboard boxes).

  • Palletized Unit Load: A quantity of items, packed or unpacked, arranged on a pallet in a specified manner and secured, strapped, or fastened on the pallet so that the whole palletized load is handled as a single unit. A palletized or skidded load is not considered to be a shipping container.

Q: Can contractors stack on the same pallet shipments from separate contracts, all of which require passive RFID?
A: Yes, contractors can stack on the same pallet shipments from separate contracts, all requiring the application of passive RFID tags. If the contractor shrink-wraps these cases (each with its own tag) into a single palletized load, the contractor also needs to apply a passive RFID tag to the palletized unit load. All “case” tags must be linked to the “pallet” tag, and an Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN) must be sent via WAWF that details that parent-child relationship. See Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN) section for instructions on how to prepare ASNs for a palletized unit load.

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Advance Shipment Notice (ASN)

Q: What is the ASN requirement for RFID?
A: The ASN is not a new process/transaction, but it is the same as the former Material Inspection Receiving Report (MIRR) transaction being sent to WAWF, with additional data (RFID data elements) added to the transaction. In April 2005, WAWF added the RFID tag ID as an additional data element in the MIRR. All suppliers who are contractually obligated to affix passive RFID tags to materiel must also send an ASN via WAWF.

Q: I have a large number of RFID tags to enter into WAWF. Is there a way to enter them all at once or do I have to enter each one separately?
A: There are three options for entering data into the WAWF website. You can manually enter the RFID tag ID into the website, use an 856 Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) document, or use a User Defined File (UDF) to transfer into WAWF. The latter two methods facilitate a more automated data capture and Advance Shipment Notice (ASN) creation process.

You can receive WAWF training at https://wawftraining.eb.mil/. If you have further questions about WAWF, please visit https://wawf.eb.mil or contact the DISA Customer Service Center (WAWF Help Desk) at 1-866-618-5988 or 801-605-7095. For additional assistance in EDI or FTP testing, vendors must initiate a trouble ticket with the DISA Customer Service Center (WAWF Help Desk) at 1-866-618-5988 or 801-605-7095. The Customer Service Center will put the vendor in contact with the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), which provides EDI and FTP testing assistance.

Q: How do you enter a Pallet RFID tag with related Case/Carton RFID tags on the WAWF Web site (Wide Area Workflow)?
A: When listing the quantity of items associated to a given tag ID, only list the quantity directly associated to that tag ID. For example, if a pallet contains 2 cases with 120 units in each case, each of the case tag IDs should have 120 units associated to it and the pallet tag should have the 2 cases associated to it. The following answer assumes the manual entry of RFID tags via the WAWF Web interface. For a more automated process to enter RFID data into WAWF, see above.

Using the pack tab in WAWF, click the 'Add Package ID' button. A new form will appear displaying 4 elements: the 'Package ID' textbox, 'Package Type' drop-down box, 'Save Pack ID' button, and 'Cancel Pack ID' button. Input the RFID tag ID for the pallet, represented in hexadecimal format (RFID tag ID = 'Package ID' in WAWF). Next, select 'Package Type' - 'RFID' from the drop down menu and then click 'Save Pack ID' button. After you click the 'SAVE' button, your 'Package ID' and 'Type' are displayed, and three new buttons appear: the 'Edit Pack ID' button, 'Delete Pack ID' button, and 'Pack ID to Pack' button. To represent placing a package inside a package (or a placing a case onto a pallet), select the 'Pack ID to Pack' button on the same line as the first 'Package ID'. Clicking the 'Pack ID to Pack' button will add a "box" underneath the pallet ID. On the newly created line, input the RFID tag ID for the case/carton and click the 'Save Pack ID' button. WAWF should now display the packing structure of the case/carton tag ID within the pallet tag ID. Once you've created the packing structure to match the shipping configuration, click the 'Pack CLIN' button and begin associating the appropriate CLINs and quantities to your packages.

Q: How can I enter RFID tags in WAWF, where the number of required unique tag IDs exceeds the quantity per CLIN?
A: Assuming the RFID clause applies, suppliers are required to apply passive RFID tags, with unique tag IDs, to each and every case on the pallet (shipping containers and exterior containers) and one parent tag affixed to the pallet itself (palletized unit loads). Previously, WAWF did not allow commercial vendors to enter more unique tag IDs (referred to as ‘Package IDs’ in WAWF) than the quantity per CLIN. DoD has resolved this problem.

If you have further questions, please contact us at ODASD_SCI@osd.mil

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Active RFID Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between data-rich and license plate active RFID tags?
A: There are two types of active RFID tags currently used by the Department of Defense: data-rich and license plate. Data-rich tags containing full shipment content data are used whenever a COCOM or the Service component of the COCOM determines they will be operating in an environment where a stable communications channel to backend databases and systems is absent or expected to be unreliable. License plate active RFID tags contain only the unique identifier and not detailed information about the item to which the tag is applied. CoCOMs and Services with access to back-end databases can obtain detailed information about the item after retrieving this unique ID. The DoD is encouraging transition to the use of license plate tags from data-rich tags due to information security and cost considerations. PM-J-AIT is the primary resource for information on active RFID tags, but each Service/Command manages their own distribution of active tags.

Q: Is the RFID equipment that is currently available for purchase safe for use around personnel?
A: All RFID equipment must be licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and conform to part 15 of the FCC’s Rules and Regulations (47 CFR15), which contains requirements to ensure the safety of personnel. Currently, RFID equipment used by the DoD conforms to this regulation.

Q: What is DoD doing to address electromagnetic effects and safety concerns surrounding RFID devices?
A: The DoD is committed to the safe and secure use of RFID, both active and passive technology, in the DoD supply chain. To this end, the DoD focuses on the three primary electromagnetic effects that are present with the radio frequency electromagnetic energy propagation that occurs with RFID device use. These three effects are:

HERO — Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Ordnance (munitions)
HERP — Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Personnel
HERF — Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Fuels

The commercial active RFID technology the DoD uses falls under the specific guidelines of the Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 (Telecommunications) Document 47 CFR 15, which cites IEEE C95.1-1991 (see above) as the basis for determining acceptable exposure limits for humans in a radio frequency (RF) energy electromagnetic environment. DoD Instruction 6055.11, the supporting doctrine behind the DoD Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation on Personnel (HERP) policy, also cites IEEE C95.1-1991 as the basis for determining the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for DoD personnel to radiated RF energy. Therefore, equipment certified by the FCC as compliant with 47 CFR 15 will be in compliance with the DoD HERP policy. The Department has completed extensive testing of the specific active RFID technology in use in DoD today and has published detailed guidelines for the safe use of this technology (fixed readers, hand-held readers, RF relays, RFID tags) around munitions, fuels, and personnel.

Q: What active RFID standards will DoD accept?
A: The DoD remains committed to supporting commercially available RFID standards to help drive adoption and foster competition for the RFID solutions they utilize. The ISO/IEC 18000-7:2008 standard was recently published, defining the air interface for radio frequency identification (RFID) devices operating as an active RF tag in the 433 MHz band, used in item management applications. The DoD will soon discontinue its use of solely ANSI 256 active tags and transition to the broad use of active tags compliant with the new ISO 18000-7 standard from multiple vendors.

Q: Does DoD RFID policy apply to Foreign Military Sales (FMS)?
A: If the contract governing the FMS has an active RFID clause inserted, RFID tagging is required. In general, only FMS shipments destined for the CENTCOM AOR require active RFID tags.

If you have further questions, please contact us at ODASD_SCI@osd.mil

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A US Soldier scanning RFID tags on a shipment.

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)

PTACs are a nationwide network of dedicated procurement professionals located at over 250 local offices, working to support and extend DLA’s mission of providing the best value goods and services to America’s Armed Forces and other government agencies. PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs.

Many PTAC counselors have backgrounds in government acquisitions and virtually all receive ongoing training to keep pace with continually evolving acquisitions procedures and policies. Our national organization, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), provides a network that allows any PTAC counselor almost instant access to the expertise and experience of over 400 colleagues, as well as real-time information from government agencies regarding new requirements and initiatives.

The mission of PTACs is to maximize the number of capable U.S. companies participating in the government marketplace by:

  1. Providing businesses nationwide with an understanding of the requirements of government contracting and the marketing know-how they need to obtain and successfully perform federal, state, and local government contracts, and

  2. Supporting government agencies in reaching and working with the suppliers they need.

For more information, please see PTAC's Web site:
http://www.aptac-us.org/new/index.php

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