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Should You Use Intelligent Part Numbering?

Is Your Part Numbering

Arena’s Solution Architect, Scott Moisan, doesn’t expect you to agree with everything he says. In fact, he’s willing to provide pros and cons to any situation, but leave final decisions to the customer. However, Scott takes the time to share why he feels non-intelligent part numbering schemes are better than intelligent ones.

For 23 years, he has tackled product lifecycle management (PLM) implementations of all flavors and sizes.

Scott’s experience surrounding PLM best practices provide helpful insights for those struggling to choose the right part number scheme.

Arena: You say in most cases, non-intelligent part numbers is the way to go. Why?

Moisan: With an intelligent part number scheme you typically have to know a lot of information about the part in order just to create a part number. For example, take a capacitor that can have a dizzying array of attributes like Capacitance, Surface Mount or Thru-Hole, Tolerance, Voltage, Type (Ceramic, Tantalum, Electrolytic, Poly-Film) or package size. An intelligent part number for a Capacitor might use a “C” for the first digit, the second digit might use “1” for Surface Mount or “2” for Thru-Hole, then your third digit might be tolerance, the fourth digit could be information on packaging and then finally the last digit(s) might be for the Capacitance. When you build intelligence into a part number it can get extremely complicated because each category of the part (Capacitor, Resistor, IC, Fastener, Spring, Washer) could correspondingly have its own array of attributes that further describes that type of part. So where do you stop? In many cases, you will need to know almost everything about that part before you can assign a part number.

Arena: When you’re in design mode, you might not know all the information about the part that an intelligent part number is requiring of you prior to its being officially ‘named’ or ‘numbered’. Are intelligent part numbers bad because they can slow down your processes? Are they based on best practices?

Moisan: Intelligent part number systems are almost always different for each and every customer—even if they were naming the same/identical parts. If you compared an intelligent part numbering system between two separate companies you would more than likely find that there is very little in common. So even if a user used an intelligent part numbering scheme at one company, and then moved to the other company, they would still have a long learning curve to assimilate the new intelligent part numbering system because they are always specific to each company.

We aren’t getting rid of the intelligence within a part, we are just shifting the intelligence from the part number to part category-specific attributes. By adding attributes specific to the type of part you are creating a richer dataset. As a result, that makes it easier to search for the exact part you need.

Arena: Does a non-intelligent part numbering scheme take a much shorter time to create a part number?

Moisan: Yes. If I want to go create a part number for a capacitor, I would select the category for Capacitor and Arena PLM will generate the next available number in a sequence. I don’t have to know everything about the part either.

Arena:  It seems like an intelligent part numbering system is a cruel misnomer because you lose flexibility when you are forced to know everything about a part before you can even create it.

Moisan: Arena always prefers to implement a non-intelligent part numbering system due to its flexibility and simplicity.

Whereas an intelligent part number might take more effort as I explained in my capacitor example. Intelligent part numbering systems can be cumbersome and slow down your process.

Arena: In what situation would an intelligent part numbering make sense?

Moisan: For established companies that have had an intelligent part numbering in place for a long time. It’s often easier for them as an organization to not change. But for companies that are looking to adopt best practices or don’t have that much data Arena PLM makes it easy to change from an intelligent part numbering scheme to a non-intelligent part numbering scheme.

For companies that are happy with their current part numbering scheme, in most cases, we can configure Arena PLM to use their intelligent part numbering system.

Arena: Can Arena Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) help customers cross over from intelligent to non-intelligent part numbers?

Moisan: Yes we can still track the new number with their legacy part number. So let’s say that a customer decided to change all of their part numbers to a new numbering system. They won’t lose visibility of their legacy part number or the ability to search on the legacy part number. Also, we can configure Arena PLM so that they could still see their legacy part number from a bill of materials (BOM) perspective. There are definitely things that we can do to help facilitate the process as they cross over from intelligent to non-intelligent.

For more pros and cons to selecting the right part numbering system for your business, download our Part Numbering eBook.

ebook: Is Your Part Numbering System Costing You Millions?

Manufacturers of complicated electronic products must manage, track, and store hundreds—if not thousands—of parts in their product development processes. And every time a new part is added to a company’s library, it can cost $15k in time and effort to qualify and rollout.

That’s serious money. And that’s why choosing the proper part numbering scheme to reference your parts is critical to your manufacturing business’s success. In Arena’s “Part Numbering eBook,” you’ll learn how to choose the best part numbering scheme for your business.

  • Pros and Cons of Intelligent & Non-Intelligent Part Numbering

  • Considerations for Choosing Your Part Numbering Scheme

  • Part Numbers in Your Business

  • How Arena Handles Part Number with Real-World Examples

In fifteen years of working with manufacturers of all sizes, Arena has developed deep insights into the different approaches and best practices of part numbering. These findings can be yours. Download the Part Numbering eBook today. Read about intelligent part numbering.

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