The Effective Management of Part Numbers Across the Product Development Lifecycle
Blog | August 31st, 2023

The Effective Management of Part Numbers Across the Product Development Lifecycle

The manufacturing of any product is an intricate process, requiring several steps - right from ideation to design, development, manufacturing, and marketing before the final delivery. Every physical product requires a large number of parts, components, and assemblies to be put together in a specific way to make the final product enduring and perform as planned during the design phase. These parts are decided at the time of design after the concept and the features have been fixed and the specifications are frozen along with the quantity and quality needed. Of course, after testing and initial pilot – changes may be needed but this must be done with proper change control procedures.

After this stage when all the parts and assemblies are finalized and put together as the Bill of Materials, as it is called, it is passed on to the purchasing and manufacturing departments. The purchasing team needs to get ready with all the parts and components from its authorized suppliers to facilitate the manufacturing team to convert the design to the finished product that can be delivered to the customer.

In the real world, as any manufacturing company will assert, the process is not as smooth or straightforward.

  • All the parts may not be available, they may not be available in the quantity required, or the specifications may vary.
  • This may require a change in design or finding additional suppliers and alternative parts, and that too quickly, to ensure adherence to production schedules.

In such a scenario, ensuring all the parts, components, and subassemblies are in place as specified can be a challenge and requires a next-gen automated system for easy and efficient tracking of the individual parts and assemblies.

4 Benefits of Having a Well-planned Part Numbering System

The part numbering system is one such process that helps with assigning a unique identifier to each part and assembly in the library for tracking purposes. It also helps with organizing the parts in the library, providing clear visibility into what is available and in what quantities. This makes the procurement process itself more efficient and reduces confusion.

Some of the benefits of the part numbering system include:

Benefit #1 - Preventing Duplication of Parts: When the parts are organized neatly according to the number-naming convention, it helps the procurement and manufacturing team assess the availability of the different parts and make informed decisions on purchase and usage.

Benefit #2 - Reducing Data Entry Errors: The part number system can be automated, thereby reducing the potential for errors or inconsistencies that manual data entry presents. This improves the accuracy of the library as well as the linking to the correct metadata associated with the unique part number.

Benefit #3 - Consistent Referencing Across Systems: Different departments need to refer to the parts for different purposes. Ensuring consistent reference across the different systems reduces confusion and improves integration across multiple systems.

Benefit #4 - Makes Procurement Faster and Cost-Efficient: The clear visibility and traceability of parts minimize duplication of orders and ensure the right parts are available at the right time. This saves cost and time and enables timely production and delivery with minimal nonconformance and improved compliance.

Improve Procurement Across the PLM: 6 Best Practices for Part Numbering

There are no rigid rules around part numbering and each business evolves its own system. However, standardizing the part numbering system improves adherence and easy understanding of the system. This will also help in identifying the right tools to integrate the systems.

Best Practice #1 - Keep it Unique for the Part: The same part may be used for different products. Instead of having a different ID based on the different products, make it unique for the part and refer to it consistently across the products.

Best Practice #2 - Keep it Simple: The numbering system should be intuitive and easy to implement. Have a prefix that identifies the category the part belongs to and a suffix that is an incremental counter every time a new instance is added to the category.

Best Practice #3 - Make it Numeric: Prefer numerals over alphabets as it minimizes confusion. ‘1’ and ‘l’ (L lower case), and even ‘I’ (I upper case) can be confusing, as can ‘0’ and ‘O’ in some fonts. It is also simpler for the stakeholders to remember, understand, and implement.

Best Practice #4 - Have a Consistent Length: A consistent six or eight-digit part number minimizes the risk of errors and is not too long.

Best Practice #4 - Do Not Use Special Characters: Having 0s at the start of the part number or special characters can lead to confusion and errors. Therefore, just have numbers and use hyphens when introducing breaks.

Best Practice #5 - Base Part Numbering on Category: Using a category-based numbering system will simplify the part numbering system and enable faster filtering through the component library.

Best Practice #6 - Use PLM Software for Part Numbering: It is not uncommon to see part numbers being generated using a computer-aided design tool (CAD). But CAD is proprietary and does not integrate well with other systems. It cannot be used to adhere to the company standards and therefore not right for this purpose. A Product Lifecycle Management system (PLM) is better suited for the task.

ComplianceQuest’s ProductQuest Solution: A Quality-First Approach with Data and Collaboration at the Core of Product Lifecycle Management

ComplianceQuest’s Product Lifecycle Management Solution facilitates the effective generation of management of part numbers.

The Bill of Material (BOM) Management feature helps product development companies with the following:

  • Maintain a comprehensive and easy-access list of parts, assemblies, and other materials needed to develop the products
  • Track upcoming changes
  • Enable version control and comparison of BOM
  • Sub-assembly components breakdown

Find out how to automate BOM Management with ComplianceQuest here:

It also offers a Master Parts/Items Lifecycle Management Solution to provide the relevant teams with access to data needed to successfully and quickly qualify, receive, and assemble finished products. It enables ERP integration and provides data on:

  • Current revisions of parts and items
  • Early concept designs

To know more about ComplianceQuest PLM for efficient management of part numbers, visit:

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