If you are faced with recommending a structure
for a new part numbering system, what should you do? Here are my
1. Absolutely no significance should be
communicated by the part number itself. No part type, plant
number, business unit, part technology—nothing.
2. Assign part numbers sequentially. Start at
number 00001 and go up.
3. Use numbers only. This will speed up your
data entry capability, and lower the amount of time it takes for
keyboard entry personnel to become productive.
4. Use no punctuation, for the reasons cited earlier.
5. Use a short part number. Five digits will
allow you 99,999 different part numbers—more than most
businesses will ever require.
6. If preventing errors is worth a lot to your company (it
should be!), use a checksum digit as the last digit. This will
prevent most keystroke errors from ever being accepted by your
computer system. This adds a digit, but with a
five-digit base part number and one
checksum digit, you're still way ahead of the game. (How this
works, in its simplest form, is you take the sum of all the
numbers in your part number, drop all but the last digit, and
use that digit as the last digit of the part number. 12345
would get a checksum digit of 5; 23456 would get a checksum
7. Use a highly structured commodity code
in one (or more) of your description fields. Since this only
has to be keyed into the system once, I favor a complete,
easy-to-read commodity code that (as mentioned above) is more
of a "structured, abbreviated description" than an
8. Issue new part numbers when a part is
not identical in terms of form, fit and function to an
existing part. Each different part should have a different
' 9. Don't compromise!
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