What is the NATO Codification System?

The NATO codification system is used by the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF. All Items of supply going through the military supply chain must be NATO codified.

A 13-digit NATO stock number (NSN) is allocated to an item which is used to identify it throughout the supply chain. NSNs are catalogued on the ISIS database.

Codification Policy is set by AC/135 and all participating countries follow the same guidelines.

There are many codification databases:

  • The Americans have FEDLOG;
  • The French have SOPRANO;
  • The Germans have NCORE;
  • The Spanish have SICADMIL; and
  • The UK has ISIS or Item of Supply Information System.

The three Services each have their own stores management systems which in turn control several satellite inventory management systems.

  • The Army has Stores System 3 and systems like
    OLIVER;
  • The Royal Navy has CRISP and systems such as Oasis; and
  • The RAF has SCCS and systems such as MJDI POC.

Using the Army as an example, when an item is introduced into service the Army applies to have the item codified. Along with the record on ISIS, the UK National Codification Bureau (UKNCB) also creates a supply management data (SMD) form which is sent to SS3, prompting the creation of a record on the stores system.

If commodity managers or users of the item discover a mistake that needs correcting or simply want to amend or add a reference the Army can let the UKNCB know using an e-tasking form. UKNCB will then update ISIS which automatically generates an ‘up-issue’ of the SMD which will update Stores System 3. This process can be repeated as many times as is necessary to keep ISIS and Stores System 3 in sync and up to date.

The Royal Navy and RAF stores systems work in exactly the same way.

ISIS also reconciles regularly with the three main stores systems in order to bring any inconsistency to the attention of commodity managers.

Codification, in addition to providing an invaluable common supply language within the supply chain, is essential for maintaining effective and efficient stores management systems, helping to deliver logistics solutions to the front line.

Reference

Doing Business with Defence Handbook. Edition 24 (2018).

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