Part Numbering Systems for CAD management.

What forms of part numbering systems are people using to handle
designs in SWx?
Currently we have two systems. Our internal products have a three
number family, followed by a four number sequence, followed by a two
number configuration, eg.
100-0001-00
Our custmer projects have an abbreviation of the customers name (there
are no hard rules for the abbreviation), followed by the job number
(four digits), followed by a three number sequence. eg.
DB-3045-004
To simplify managment, assemblies sometimes start the sequence at
100. eg.
DB-3045-101
Configurations of the same part are normally given a new part number,
unless it is handled inside the SWx file. Then we normally use a
descriptive term such as "Left" or "Flat Pattern".
We don't currently have a PDM system so revisions are manually packed
into a new folder named for its date of creation.
Similarly different versions of the same design are kept in seperate
folders, with a descriptive name. eg.
\Client\V2 Concept Key Former
We are trying to come up with an improved system, but we end up with
11 or 12 digit part numbers. Do you other designers have strong part
naming systems in place?
Cheers, Dom.
Reply to
Dom
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Buy some cheap PDM system. The best numbering system is sequential: 000000001, 000000002, 000000003, etc. and load the "intelligent" metadata into the PDM system. Don't try to make the part numbers "smart".
Reply to
madcadman
This is very good advice, do not try to build intelligent numbering. The best thing to do is to do is to create sequential numbers and use a database of some sort to keep track of the data that goes along with them. We tried to do this once (intelligent numbers) and we could never get it to work. Before you know it you are adding more and more intelligent numbers to your parts until the only person who knows what all those numbers mean is the person who wrote the document.
Jim
Reply to
jim.peter
Ten years ago I was employed with a company that "made good" and was moving away from custom engineering to manufacturing of high tech equipment. Part of the transition included moving to 3D CAD and adopting a ERP system.
There were only two meetings were people were screaming at each other (this in a place that was pretty laid back).
One was coming up with a revision standard..... the other was inteligent vs. non-inteligent numbering of items/drawings.
I think a total of 4-5 days were expended hashing over the pro's and con's of each system
In the end (against my advice), a 12 digit "intelligent" numbering schema was developed. Because we had to convert some old data/drawings over to the new system we hired a manufacturing "expert" to help us to convert over.
This process took over 3 months of 2 people working full time.
After we went live with the system, my first project was to order the raw material, components, and equipment, used to produce a product we'd been making for years.
That's when I started to find duplicate "item" numbers (i.e. same part - different numbers). After some investigating I found numerous parts/ assemblies/drawings that had been renamed based on a different interpretation of the numbering schema. My record was finding six identical parts with different "part numbers". The problem was so bad that people no longer believed in the "inteligent" numbering scheme when they went looking for a part. To make matters worse, once an Item touched the accounting system there was no way to back it out of the system. You had to obsolete the item in the ERP system. These parts were used in common assemblies........ our assemblies might be 5 layers deep.........it was a nightmare.
The end result was a "dumb" system that was 12 digits long (not including the dashes).
In the next company we worked for we assigned sequential numbers to the SW parts/assemblies as we created them. We used a 5 digit number series for our products, and another for purchased components, equipment, and hardware. Each SW model that was created was assigned a 5 digit number based on which category it belonged in.
Set up SW Tree to display description of the file so that we got the best of both worlds - a number to identify the file and a description for the end user.
Most intelligent numbering system (unless they are dead simple - and then what's the point) end up causing more problems than they solve over time. As the people who are most familiar with the schema move on to other companies or up the food chain the reason for the system begins to fade into the background.
my .02
Len
Reply to
lmar
Intelligent part numbering is an unintelligent choice. Everywhere I have seen it, it was more trouble than it was worth. The worst aspect was the spawning of part number trolls who ended up owning and running the system while not being good for much else.
All that a part number needs to do is uniquely identify each part or assembly. Let the MRP system do its job without adding part numbering to its burden.
I think it's ok to have a limited amount of numbering logic, i.e. distinguish between assemblies and parts. Beyond that.... yeesh!
Reply to
That70sTick
It iterate simply, "Dumb numbers are good, Smart numbers are stupid".
You'll spend more time arguing over a part going into this or that category once than you'll ever by "knowing" something because of the part number "intelligence".
Matt Lorono
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Reply to
fcsuper
Wow...
Thanks for your responses guys!
The numbering system we developed is based on a similiar system from a previous job of mine. It was not intended to be intelligent, however I guess organising parts in terms of families does convey some intelligence. Currently we have about 60 different customer folders in our CAD directory. Seperating customer projects for us is really important, and our resources are quite limited, so including a customer reference in the part number seemed to be the most logical step. The only other intelligence in customer part numbers is to seperate assemblies from parts.
There are only two of us designing, and we also work in our factory machining and fabricating prototypes. We do about 20 projects a year, and have been using SWx for over five years now. Purchasing an ERP or PDM system is beyond our resources at the moment. (We are still paying off the loan for SWx!!) We do have a "database" of part numbers in an excel spreadsheet in preparation for adopting an ERP system, so the part numbering information is being captured as we create them. Each year we do about 250 customer and internal jobs, but some of these don't require any CAD work.
Here is the current list of part families (Internal Products only). There is plenty of room for expansion in this system. Some of these families have not been used yet and we may review these at some time and delete them. We probably have 50 different products that we make.
100 Fabricated Metal 110 Fabricated Plastics 120 Fabricated Metal Assembly 130 Fabricated Plastic Assembly 140 Mechanical Assembly 150 Electrical/Electronic Assembly 160 Wiring Harness 180 Mesh Products 200 Fibre Glass and Composites 250 Glass And Ceramic 300 Rubber Parts and 0-Rings, Grommets etc. 310 Non Slip Matting 320 Rubber Belt 330 Foam Padding, Seats 340 Silicone, Glues and Lubricants 400 Motors 410 Batteries 420 Crimps 430 Plugs 440 Wiring. 450 Circuit Boards 460 Controllers 470 Electrical components eg switches 480 Electronic Components eg, caps, resistors, IC's 490 Lights 500 Software and Programming 600 Threaded Fasteners 610 Un-Threaded Fasteners 615 Machine Hardware 620 Bearings and Bushes 650 Buy Ins, eg. Ratchet Handles, Lobe Knobs 700 Outside Cost eg, welding, powder coating, zinc plating, machining. 800 Packaging 810 Manuals 820 Labels 900 Raw Material, SS 910 Raw Material, Alloy Steel 920 Raw Material, Aluminium 930 Raw Material, Plastics
Cheers, Dom.
Reply to
Dom
Cliff, you're "a bit dumb". The metadata contains all the intelligence and is much easier to manage and maintain than "man-readable info 'encoded' into the 'smart' bits & format structure". PDM is the way to go.
Reply to
madcadman
e:
That's a bit off the wall. Questions are asked for a reason. Answers are provided from experience. In my experience, the choice to use smart numbers is usually made by people that do not directly have anything to do with how they are assigned or used.
Matt Lorono
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Reply to
fcsuper
Dude, if you're doing 250 jobs per year and you can't pay off your 2 Solidworks licenses, you need a better accountant and/or pricing model for your products!!! Seriously, 2 licenses of PDM works is not that expensive and well worth it if you can justify some time savings offset by its implementation.
Reply to
madcadman
Nope, just us smart people.
Reply to
madcadman
Our company uses a sequential system that has "some" intelligence. 1xxxxxxx Assemblies 2xxxxxxx Parts (custom/Fab) 3xxxxxxx Toolong 4xxxxxxx C.O.T.S. parts
Substitute the x's for sequential numbers.
Reply to
mechdesign2k4
Dom,
Hope it works out for you. I'm big time in favor of the smart part number system. I work / have worked for a company that uses it and it works VERY well. People are your best ERP system. They get to recognize the part numbers and what they mean. There's an instant recognition.
With sequential systems, you're selling your soul to the database administrators who hold all the metadata hostage and try to make you change your business practices to accomodate their software. It's a slippery slope.
Reply to
CADaholic
"snip"
"snip"
Most decent PDM systems can be configured for any "numbering" schema the company wishes. That includes "intelligent", semi-intelligent, or sequential. Most if not all have an autonumber generator that can be based on (but not limited to):
1. Category of the models (Products, Equipment, Components, Hardware, etc..) 2. Project Numbering or departments (mechanical vs. electrical vs. software) 3. Number "prefixes" or "suffixes" 4. Standard Parts (i.e. Toolbox or other CAD library). 5. Concatanation of category sub-headings to arrive at a consistent "Description" for each new part 6. Can place the renamed/existing file in any location (drive/folder) the user wants based on their requirements. 7. Can move the file to other folders upon approval and release including generating PDF files for customers and vendors use (Using another naming schema if company policy requires it).
System can be as simple or as complicated as one wishes.
The statement that states a PDM system adheres to one type of numbering schema is incorrect. One could argue, that a PDM system can ensure your intelligent numbering system is being adhered to by walking the user through company defined steps during the file creation process.
Like most system, garbage in means garbage out.
The problem is most companies either do not have a formal procedure or they have an "ad-hoc" one that changes depending on which person happens to be in the office that day. In addition, they maintain procedures that, while quite adequate for 2D systems, don't take into the account the unique needs of 3D systems.
Done right it can ensure your company is following procedures faster and more accurately than any person could.
And as for the comment on being held hostage by the metadata - one could argue that being locked into a particular CAD format (interoperability between clients, machine shops, etc...) is a lot more restrictive than any metadata which by nature is CAD or system independent. The latter only applies if the system isn't encrypted in a proprietary format - which one should never do in the first place (i.e. You own the drawing/data/metadata).
Len
Reply to
lmar
Part numbering schemes can be like a religion. Dangerous territory. How you view it has a lot to do with what you come up with. For example, the shop guy might be used to having fasteners numbered with a code that pertains to all the attributes of a fastener and since they know the system they will swear at you when you change how the fasteners are numbered. The engineer may find things by looking at the description of the part and not care a bit about what the number is. A non-computer savvy manager type might like to know that a certain system does apply to part numbers so they can find things in their head easily. It can go on and on. So the first thing you have to decide is what does a part number mean inside the company.
If you decide that a part number simply refers to a unique part which can be thrown into a box with other parts having the same number and when any part is withdrawn at random from the box it will work just as well as any other in the box then you have made progress in knowing what part number system will work. That system would simply be a sequential set of numbers. This is an important concept even though it seems very simple.
Now you also have to make a distinction between a part number for something that is actually physically made or intended to be made and something a bit more abstract like a drawing. Should a drawing have the same number as the part it represents? If you say yes then how do you do a charted drawing? In the age of 3D models, should a model have the same number as the part or assembly it represents? For a part you have the same issue if the part has configurations suitable for charting or other variations. Similarly with assemblies you may have a layout assembly for quoting, an assembly for the assembly department and another assembly for the manual of the same "assembly". Ditto for drawings.
You may think I am being overly nit picky, but I am not. The ERP folks are only concerned with what is actually manufactured and engineering will be interested in all the variations, configurations, prototypes, things in R&D and development as far as tracking SW files. Tech pubs will be interested in something else again and shipping something else. So each group will be interested in "numbers" but maybe not all the numbers.
You can also see that part numbers with meaning would not work well in today's world because the same part might be documented several different ways and not all documents would pertain to all aspects of your company. The meaningful part number was much more important in the past when drawings had to be physically filed and tracked but in the modern world this is done for the most part by a computer using a database. With CAD systems like SW you may create a lot of files doing what ifs, etc. Further, a meaningful part number automatically limits how many parts you can have. Numbers are cheap, really cheap, unless you run out. of them. As soon as you limit yourself to 3 digits, 4 digits or whatever you have limited possibilities and you will eventually run into a wall. Remember Y2K.
The question might come up then as to how you find a part if the part number has no meaning other than being next after the previous number? Well this isn't too hard. Consider the list in this thread with three digit numbers referring to different categories of part. Why not do away with the list associating numbers with categories and just use categories in either the description or as a separate attribute for the part or assembly? Most decent PDM systems today will allow for some sort of automated categorization making this very easy and consistent. Categories and descriptions are not limited the way categorized blocks of numbers are.
Another issue with part numbers is that you may have to carry along a customer's part number with your own. This is not uncommon. You may also have to carry along a catalog number with a part number. A decent PDM system will be able to associate the part number engineering uses with a number denoting a part intended to be manufactured, a catalog number, a customer P/N, a quote number, a sales oriented model number, etc.
TOP
Reply to
TOP
Cliff, go back to pre-school. This is really not that difficult an issue to deal with. Surprisingly, people all around the world do so every day.
Reply to
madcadman
Thanks TOP, this is giving me some more insight into how we can identify what we really "need". I think now we will be able to develop some ideas about how to number things. I think I will also start looking at PDM systems and see if there isn't something that can do what we want.
To the others out there, can anyone give some examples of how they handle customer CAD info?
An example of our file names for customers are: DK-2986-001 Where DK is an abbreviation of the customers name, 2986 is the Job number, and 001 is sequential.
Cheers, Dom.
Reply to
Dom
Dom,
I'm guessing you make a lot of same but different. Motors, wheels, gearboxes, etc. Even if I was in your situation and didn't have a PDM system I would simply arrange folders in blocks of sequential numbers. You can store the customer's name, job number, etc. in the top level assembly custom properties and search on them with SW Explorer. I wouldn't store that information in any parts that can be re-used.
Excel spreadsheets also are handy to keep track of part number/ description assignments and also to keep track of job number/customer assignments. Keeping this information out of the filename will help down the road if you go to PDM.
One of the problems I have seen in using "intelligent" part numbers for file names is that when you do go to PDM the intelligent system always seems to be difficult to program for auto number generation because they contain a human factor that is hard for a computer to understand.
TOP
Reply to
TOP
Dom, Your list reminds me of the Dewey decimal system, which has proven over time to be a robust, reliable, scalable system.
That said, in my office, the Engineers I work with maintain that intelligent part numbering is a disaster waiting to happen. They insist on sequential part numbering, and I go with their counsul.
I can see their point - sometimes a fabricated part will transform into a cast part as the design progresses or the part goes through rounds of quoting, requiring a new part number.
With my job the decision is mostly out of my hands - as a contract design house, we have to follow our customer's part numbering scheme.
However, if I were making the parts in "ed's manufacturing company", I would find your 'Dewey decimal' system very attractive.
Ed
Reply to
Edward T Eaton
This is where you have to be very clear on why you are numbering files. In your customer's mind, whether the shop floor or a client they can only deal with the concept you are making 000001 Bolt, 1/4-20x4 Hex GR8 Zinc Plated. However, in engineering this "part" may have an embodiment as a rolled thread item (E000001), a cut thread item (E000002) and a cast item (E000003) as you mentioned. (I don't know who would cast a 1/4-20 bolt but this is just hypothetical). Each would be modelled differently. So engineering might want a separate unique number for each which at a later date when the decision is made to use one or the other variant that engineering part number is associated with the number 000001 which is the customer's number. PDM makes this really easy. Without PDM it can be handled with a spreadsheet and custom properties.
Using this system you would have in the custom properties for file E000001.sldprt:
PartNo E000001 Description Bolt, 1/4-20x4 Hex GR8 Zinc Plated, Rolled CustPartNo 000001 CustDescription Bolt, 1/4-20x4 Hex GR8 Zinc Plated
While in the custom properties for file E000002.sldprt:
PartNo E000002 Description Bolt, 1/4-20x4 Hex GR8 Zinc Plated, Cut CustPartNo - CustDescription -
TOP
Reply to
TOP

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