Vendor: 'War runs on IT'

'This is a war that runs on IT,' bar code vendor Timothy M. McGilloway said today. 'Without that infrastructure, it couldn't happen.'

McGilloway's company, Zebra Technologies Corp. of Vernon Hills, Ill., makes the 2-D bar code equipment that identifies and routes Humvees, tanks and helicopters on their way to battlefields in Iraq.

'We helped design the system' that labels each vehicle driven aboard the military's roll-on/roll-off ships, called ROLOs, McGilloway said. The helicopters are shrink-wrapped in plastic to prevent damage by salt spray on the decks, he said.

The company supplied the Defense Department with about 600 suitcase-size field units containing portable data terminals and PT400 thermal bar code printers for logistics use at Arabian Gulf ports, McGilloway said. The bar codes are printed in PDF-417 format, which can store up to 1,800 ASCII characters per label. In some places the label information can be uploaded wirelessly to an equipment database, he said.

DOD applies a label to every piece of military equipment before shipping to show its serial number, weight, dimensions, any munitions it carries, and the destination so that it can be routed immediately without intermediate storage, he said. The label also shows date of last maintenance, any replacements parts needed and other data.

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