MIL-STD-129R Released

It was so long since MIL-STD-129P Change 4 was released (2007, would you believe?), that I wondered if this Standard was now frozen in time and was achieving everything that the DoD logistics people wanted it to. Well, a couple of weeks ago, 129R appeared so the question is answered.

The changes from the old standard are listed in the “Forward” section of the document. Here are some highlights:

The MSL label stays mainly the same, although there is an additional piece of data called “Transportation Tracking Number.”

Transportation Tracking Number TTL in MSL Label

Transportation Tracking Number for MSL

The main label changes relate to the Unit and Intermediate labels – especially where there are UID items involved. UID data still needs to be encoded in the PDF417 but the method of doing this is changed. Each item will now be encoded in its own ISO 15434 Format 06 envelope (encased in Record Separators).

Changes to Unit & Intermediate Labels MIL-STD-129R

Changes to Unit & Intermediate Labels

If there are more than five serialized items in the package, a separate barcoded list of serial numbers and IUIIs is needed.

Continuing the move from Code 39 to PDF417 barcodes, PDF417 is recommended for just about everything. While this is good for getting more data encoded in the labels, I’m not a big fan of PDF417 as a data carrier. It takes up more space than a real 2D barcode (like Datamatrix) and I’ve never found it to be that easy to read, especially when the barcode becomes really big with a lot of data encoded.

RFID use is now mandatory, unless specifically exempted, for case and pallet shipments. Munitions and explosives need to be tagged with “hazards of electromagnetic radiation to ordnance” (HERO) compliant tags.

This is obviously going to mean some label design changes in the barcode areas. Here at ID Technology, we have provided a set of BarTender label templates for some time. These have always been free of charge for anyone needing them and this will continue. The latest version, 5.0 is now MIL-STD-129R compliant.

MIL-STD-129R eBook ID TechnologyThe previous version of the Standard had started to move towards combining the shipping and packaging Standard (129) with the item numbering mandated by MIL-STD-130. It makes sense that this trend is continued in MIL-STD-129R and it will be interesting to see if this becomes more important in future updates.

Want to learn more about MIL-STD-129R? Get yourself a free copy of the ID Technology MIL-STD-129 eBook

If you are a defense contractor, how ready are you for the new label requirements? We can help so call me at 603-598-1553 x237 to get started or send me mail to

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