What’s in a part number?

What’s in a part number? Moving forward with the re-implementation we faced some key decisions.  One of them was to decide how to handle our part numbers.  Our existing part numbers were a mess.  They ranged anywhere from 1 to 30 characters and had variations of numbers, letters, and characters.  Some had some logic built into them, some were random, some were brought in as the vendor/customer part numbers, and some parts were represented by multiple part IDs of different numbering schemes.  Everyone seemed to have a different method for creating part numbers and, needless to say, it had become a mess.  We were all in agreement, this had to be cleaned up and standardized.

The numbering system we decided to go with is a 7-digit numeric ID where the first 2 digits designate the product type (product line, hardware, etc.).  The other 5 digits are random numbers.  We plan to use the settings in part maintenance to define the rest of the part qualities.

I’ve been with other companies where a larger smart-part-numbering system was the way to go.  In those situations the parts “are what they are” with very little (if any) changes that take place and can be easily defined within the part ID itself.

Convincing everyone to adapt to the all 7-digit, numeric part IDs wasn’t easy.  We set up a sandbox database and took a few part samples that we re-numbered and the corresponding components that went into making them.  We created Customer Acknowledgements, work orders, and dispatch reports to show the team how much ‘cleaner’ these reports looked.  We also demonstrated that we can display all the important info on these reports using the part description.  Should any changes be necessary to the part, we can just tweak the description instead of creating a whole new part number.  We had to transition everyone off their dependency of just knowing the part numbers and needing that knowledge of the history behind each part number.

Jason Snoeyink is a special guest author at visualnuggets.com and is an active participant in the VISUAL community.

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