An NSN (National Stock Number) is an important element for most military parts. This is the number that has been assigned to all the different parts of military machinery much like car parts have a Vin or Serial number. This includes everything from bolts to nuts and engines used in the manufacture of the entire item, even cases if alcohol such as beers and wines are assigned an NSN number.
Understanding why these numbers are important and how they are used is vital to different industry sectors, including the Military.
Why an NSN (National Stock Number) is Important to the Military
In many manufacturing industries, numbers such as these are important factors in the entire process. They are marked as official labels for a part that is processed frequently through an institution such as a Federal Supply System (FSC). Whether it is in retail, construction, or engineering, these NSN numbers are always assigned mainly so that when there is a need to re-order them, they can be easily identified.
This number consists of a 13 digital numeric code and is assigned by the US Department of Defense, this link can give you more insight into this as well. Back in the ’70s, the numbers used were slightly different, however, as the years went by the addition of 2 extra numbers, turned them into this specific type of identification.
This official ‘label’ assigned to items is mainly implemented on those parts that are issued, stored, and stocked at various sites for frequent use. Once the item is added, related data is assembled to describe the item, such as the manufacturer, name of the part, the price per unit, its performance, and physical characteristics.
All the relevant information is stored on a system to aid the logistics and supply chain procedures. They help to accurately manage aircraft parts as well as military equipment. The importance of these numbers cannot be stressed enough. They assist in storing, disposing of, moving, and managing each component. This is an officially recognized system used worldwide and represents over 40 million manufacturers’ parts numbers from over 2 million suppliers, so the best way to handle it, is through this successful system.
NSN Codification Protocols of the USA and Other Member Countries
When you work in any engineering or manufacturing firm, you may have seen these codes attached to individual components of the manufacturing process. In its simplest explanation, these numbers help to create a catalog of everything that the military forces and armed forces use frequently. From hardware to systems, they help the operation to function effectively.
The technical descriptions (more information has been included below) provides a common language or ‘language of logistics’ to those decision-makers within the industry who are in charge of making sure everything is on record. If there are any inconsistencies with this system, managers and seniors will pick it up easily.
If a company is based outside of the USA, and certain member countries who participate in this process and may be contracted to maintain and issue the logistics and stock numbers, then they will not necessarily have a similar coding system but would have their own unique logistics information including the country-specific stock number that abides by their codification bureaus and that coordinate with the NATO codification rules, as laid out on their website:
The Benefits of the Military Machine NSN Codes
This system has been a successful way of keeping track of items and has seen many benefits throughout the years.
Interoperability – Firstly, when a system has the efficient capability to work hand in hand with another system and has no restrictions, this method is implemented and known as interoperability. Sometimes these various parts have an expiry date. Which means they would no longer meet the stringent standards required for this industry.
Being able to find these parts easily helps to avoid such waste and keep within the confines of protocol, as well as protect machinery and employees. Information such as the shelf life, item criticality, storage, safety, and pricing are amongst the information stored on each part.
Other overall common benefits include:
- Reducing downtime by being a viable solution to procurement and worker to easily identify, locate and supply various components without having to go through large amounts of manual paperwork.
- Identifying the shelf life and existing inventory of each piece.
- Maximizing the use of spare parts that are still available and can be interchangeable and be substituted with others.
- Provides a central hub for companies and manufacturers to access information.
- Providing first-hand information such as the pricing especially when managing military budgets and negotiating contracts with vendors and suppliers.
- If any items are duplicated, it can help to find them and sort them according to relevancy.
- Improving output times for processes such as repairs, design, and manufacturing and extending the life of weapons systems life cycles.
- Supports the recording of manufacturing information on NSNs to help aid in overall support.
- Safeguarding proprietary information and protecting while limiting access to only those who are given official permission.
More information regarding this can be found on website sources such as the military machinery NSN site and examples of countries that would have different codes would be Germany, Italy, France, and Australia.
The power of the NSN far surpasses any other. This information is used worldwide and helps many industries to maintain strict and appropriate logistic information for their machinery and vehicles.
It is known as an ‘international language of government’ and as the various sectors grow every year, it has been extended to these new areas to help suppliers with the various selection of millions of different parts and their information, to all be accessed within one logical system, without which there can be many negative implications and huge fines charged to organizations.
It provides a sense of immediate readiness and minimizes ownership costs not just for the military sectors but all other corporations that handle large supplies of essential items used by consumers all over the world and in various industries.