Non Significant, Self-Validated Part Identification Numbers.
Bohse, Micheal E.
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The numbering and identification of parts within a manufacturing organization is of immense importance, for it serves as a major means of communicating information throughout the organization. The oldest, and still most prominent method of part identification is the use of meaningful, alpha/numeric part numbers. With the transition to computer assisted manufacturing systems, however, many of the weaknesses of this type of system have come to light. A newer approach to part numbering, the use of all numeric, nonsignificant part numbers as a vehicle for identifying parts and accessing the required information about each, may be a major contributor to improve communications in the computer age. This paper explores both approaches to part identification, addressing the advantages and drawbacks of each. It is concluded that the use of nonsignificant numbering, is indeed, the best approach to a flexible, simple, and standardized identification system, allowing access to all pertinent part information without incorporating that information in to the part number. Two case studies, one of a leading compressor manufacturer, and the other a producer of greeting cards, are presented, demonstrating the feasibility of a conversion from significant to nonsignificant systems and the benefits obtainable. The problem of reducing data entry errors and maintaining data integrity with non-significant part numbers is analyzed and a proposed algorithm presented. Finally routines are demonstrated for both generating and then vetting and validating nonsignificant numbers.