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Creating Custom Part Number in an ERP

Often you'll have to create custom part numbers for an item, or a whole class of items. Basic recommendations of what to think about for this process are:

  1. what will it be like searching for this item?
  2. what makes it easy for employees to search for parts they think might exist?
  3. is there a conflict with manufacturer's part numbers?

1 Easy Searching

When using a system like Alox that searches the existing parts as you type, you'll want to have a part naming scheme that goes from wide to narrow. So the start of the part number refers to the most generic detail about the item, and as you type, you get more specific. This helps with discoverability, to find similar parts.

Example: you sell shirts, in short and long sleeve, and in several colors. For the moment, let's ignore size. The template could be:

2 Discoverability

Sometimes you're searching for a part, but you don't know if it exists in the system. With a system that goes from wide to narrow, you can drill down as you go and find the answer. For example, say you have 12 mm hex head bolts that come in a variety of materials. You start with BHHM-12-30- for "bolt, hex head, 12mm diameter, 30mm length" and you have these parts shown:
And now you could reach the conclusion that the "Mild Steel" part exists, and the "Titanium" part exists, but the "Stainless Steel" part does not, because there is no BHHM-12-30-SS.

3 Conflicting with Manufacturer Part Numbers

There are some items where using the part number supplied by the manufacturer as the part number that shows up on the customer invoice is unsuitable. One example of this is when you're sourcing the same part from multiple suppliers. The customer "wants the same thing they got last time" and that's a lot easier if you're using an internal part number. In these cases, you can still have the manufacturer part number connected to that part as an alternate code or barcode, so that it's easy to find when placing Purchase Orders or receiving.