As you likely know from experience, it’s not easy to win a military supply contract. There’s no shortage of companies that would love to do business with the military, as military contract often leads to consistent business and a steady cash flow.
However, winning the military contract is only half the battle. You also have to fulfill the military’s expectations and retain the contract. That’s not always easy. The military often has high standards and expectations. They can also easily turn to one of your competitors if they feel you aren’t meeting your contractual obligations.
Many contractors s struggle specifically with the military’s packaging guidelines. The military manages a sprawling supply chain. To optimize efficiency, the military’s purchasing agencies are very specific about packaging materials and methods, labeling, and logistics. If you don’t follow those guidelines, you could lose the opportunity to win future business and you may even threaten your current contract.
Fortunately, you can avoid those risks with proper planning. Below are a few common military packaging mistakes. Consider these issues now so you can develop an efficient and effective packaging process:
1. Not following MIL-STD-2073
MIL-STD-2073 is the military’s comprehensive packaging document. It provides precise, detailed packaging instructions for a wide range of products. It describes the types of materials that should be used and how certain items should be protected. The document covers everything from dunnage to containers to protective substances.
Your product is probably governed by a section of MIL-STD-2073. It’s on you to understand how the guidelines apply to your product. If your packaging isn’t in compliance with MIL-STD-2073, you may not pass the quality assurance inspection. That means you can’t ship your products and can’t invoice the military. You can avoid this issue by always making sure your products are packaged in accordance with military standards.
2. Failing to comply with label and tag requirements
Labeling is also an important part of the military’s packaging guidelines. Again, because of the size and scale of the military’s supply chain, it’s critical that all packages are correctly labeled per Mil-Std 129. That ensures that packages arrive at the correct facility and are processed as quickly as possible. Your labels may need to reference a certain military location, purchase order number, or other information.
Your contract may require you to use RFID tags. These are powered tags that emit a radio frequency signal and provide information about the shipment. The signal is picked up by scanners used in military facilities. Your contract will state whether you need to use RFID tags and what type to use. You can also reference the military’s RFID tag guide for more information.
3. Waiting too long to register with the military’s invoice system
Of course, the whole point of working the military and meeting their guidelines is to generate revenue. You want to get paid, and you probably want the cash flow sooner rather than later. Even if you pass the quality assurance inspection and use the correct tags and labels, you still have to navigate the military’s invoicing system before you will get paid.
The military uses a system called iRAPT, which stands for Invoice, Receipt, Acceptance, and Property Transfer. Before you can submit invoices through iRAPT, you have to register in the system. You can do this as soon as you are registered to bid on government contracts.
Too many military contractors wait until they’re ready to invoice before they register for iRAPT. The problem with that approach is that your registration has to be reviewed and approved. That can take several days. If there are any errors in your registration, it’s kicked back to you for correction, further delaying the process.
Register for the invoicing system now, even if you don’t have an invoice ready for submission. That way, you can avoid unnecessary delays when you are ready to ship product and invoice the military.
A military packaging company can help you avoid these mistakes and more. Look for a military packaging partner who has experience in your industry and who can help you implement an effective process. They can identify potential risks and help you maximize your military supply opportunity.