The Effective Management of Part Numbers in Engineering and Manufacturing with OpenBOM

Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
19 May, 2023 | 4 min for reading
The Effective Management of Part Numbers in Engineering and Manufacturing with OpenBOM

In the complex world of engineering and manufacturing, effective identification of components is a key to success. Everyone has a complex manufacturing process required to identify it somehow and with a large number of multiple systems (and data sources – silos), this process of identification is not very efficient and drives a lot of debates. I was shocked and inspired by the reaction of readers to my Beyond PLM article – Why intelligent part numbers must die in the future of PLM and ERP. I decided that despite the fact the topic of Part Numbers was discussed many times over the last two decades, I’ll create first a comprehensive guide for OpenBOM customers on how to manage Part Numbers using the OpenBOM tools and then provide our recommendations about Part Numbers best practices. 

Part numbers are unique identifiers that help businesses distinguish between their multitude of products, components, assemblies, and more. Without part numbers, organizations would struggle to track, order, use, and maintain the items necessary to keep operations running smoothly. You can hear about different part numbers – OEM, internal, external, supplier, manufacturer, etc. We will discuss in the following posts with best practices. In this article, I will speak about how OpenBOM allows you to create Part Numbers (internal) to identify items such as parts, materials, and assemblies in OpenBOM. 

Every Part or Assembly Must Be Identified

In order to maintain order and efficiency, it is crucial that every part or assembly within a company’s inventory is distinctly identified. This is where part numbers come into play. Whether you’re dealing with screws, transistors, or complex assemblies, each item needs to have a unique tag – its part number.

This unique identification is not just for internal usage. Part numbers are also crucial for communication with suppliers and customers, facilitating clear and efficient transactions. Miscommunication and mistakes due to improperly identified parts can lead to costly errors, such as ordering incorrect parts, mismanaging stock levels, or delivering the wrong products to customers. To do so, in the future, we might introduce a special way to identify items outside of the company. However, it is extremely important for every company to have their own Part Numbers. 

OpenBOM: Part Numbers as Unique Identifiers

OpenBOM, a comprehensive data management system, emphasizes the importance of part numbers by making them the primary identifier for each item in its system. In OpenBOM, every part or assembly is assigned a unique part number, ensuring precise and clear identification across all processes, from product design and development to production and logistics.

Configuration of Part Numbers in OpenBOM Catalogs

One of the powerful tools provided by OpenBOM for managing part numbers is its catalog functionality. OpenBOM catalogs serve as centralized databases where all items are stored and organized.

The catalog system provides a mechanism to classify items and add a specific set of attributes for each item type. For example, different attributes might be assigned to mechanical parts, electronic components, and so on. This ability to categorize and attribute items at a granular level greatly enhances the usefulness and accuracy of the part numbers, facilitating more effective tracking, search, and management of inventory.

Flexibility in Part Number Generation and Management

In addition to providing a framework for organizing part numbers, OpenBOM also offers flexibility in how these identifiers are generated and managed. Users can customize the structure of their part numbers to best suit their organization’s needs and workflow. Furthermore, OpenBOM ensures the uniqueness of each part number, reducing the risk of duplicate entries and confusion.

In order to better showcase these capabilities, here is a video demo demonstrating the functionality of OpenBOM in the generation and management of part numbers.

Attributes instead of Intelligent Part Numbers

OpenBOMoffers a flexible alternative to traditional part numbering systems. Instead of relying solely on structured alphanumeric codes, OpenBOM utilizes flexible data models and semantic attributes to organize and retrieve product data. With data models, you can capture a wide range of part information, while semantic attributes provide contextual meaning for better organization and search capabilities. This approach allows for greater adaptability, scalability, precise querying, and improved collaboration among team members working with product data.

Conclusion: The Importance of Part Number Management

The management of part numbers is a vital, yet often underappreciated aspect of operations in engineering and manufacturing. It’s a topic charged with complexities and challenges that can sometimes lead to confusion among industrial companies, regardless of their size.

OpenBOM’s robust capabilities allow companies to successfully navigate this essential aspect of their operation. With the aid of OpenBOM’s catalogs and unique identifier system, companies can manage their inventories effectively and efficiently.

In subsequent articles, we will delve into the challenges that industrial companies often face when creating systems to manage part numbers. We’ll explore common pitfalls, misconceptions, and strategies to overcome these issues. By fully understanding the importance and intricacies of part numbers, companies can take significant strides toward optimizing their operational efficiency and overall success.

REGISTER FOR FREE to explore how OpenBOM can help your organization. 

Best, Oleg

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