The Power Of The NSN (National Stock Number)

What is an NSN and why is it so important and how is it used?

The first action when it comes to the NSN is to understand what it is and why it is so vital to the Military.

It is an official label for a part that is frequently processed through the Federal Supply System. Picture a truck or car. With every vehicle it is assigned a Vin No. or Serial No. This is the case for military parts. Every part from fasteners, nuts, bolts, engines, to a stick of deodorant or case of beer is assigned a NSN. This allows the government to track these parts and re-order them when needed. Our job as a procurement agency is to find these parts through various vendors, suppliers, and manufacturers to assist in facilitating their project or mission. There are over 6.5 million active NSNs in the Federal Supply System, and over 9 million non-US managed parts in the NATO system.

The NSN structure consists of a 13 digit code (for example 1234-00-567-8910). The first four digits are the Federal Supply Class or FSC. The next two digits are the country that assigned the actual part. This is assigned by the National Codification Bureau or NCB. The last seven digits consists of random sequential numbers and are unique to each NSN.

What are the Benefits of the NSN?

There are many factors to what makes this list great. The first one is interoperability. No need to google this word because I will explain here. It is the ability of a system to work with or use the parts or equipment of another system, with no restrictions. Another benefit is it ensures the life cycle support of the part. Some parts may have expired or even have rubber compound that may no longer meet today’s strict standards. Being able to research this part can prevent a loss to the Procurement agency or most importantly prevent a catastrophic failure of a part. Most certainly it can provide a safety protocol and protect your personnel. Some of the biggest components that we search for are shelf life, pricing, safety, storage, acquisition, and Item criticality.

The NSN is also used as a data key for item tracking and identifies data sharing capabilities of items. Some items can be dangerous goods or hazardous materials, so disposal and asset visibility would become key elements here to prevent any dangers to your health. HAZMAT is the short abbreviated term for hazardous materials. These can be substances or forms that can include toxic chemicals, nuclear waste, and radiological agents. You can now begin to understand that a NSN can be detrimental in knowing what you are procuring.

Which Agencies use the NSN?

Well, to be quite frank, everybody. Just about every tech hub that deals in aerospace technology is researching and purchasing these parts. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, FAA, USAF, US Navy, Department of Defense, NATO, and any government in the world just to name a few big hitters. A NSN can only be developed by a Military service, International partner, or federal/civil agency. A new NSN# can be requested once a requirement for an item has been identified or needed via provisioning (a new weapon or part system deployed by a military service) or demand planning (a non-stocked item continually ordered).

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