How real is the case for Global Part Number System?

How real is the case for Global Part Number System?


Last week at PI Congress in Boston, I attended the presentation – Utilizing Industrie 4.0, IoT and Related Platforms to Boost a More Interdisciplinary Approach to Product Lifecycle by Dr. Martin Eigner. Industry 4.0 is a trending topic together with IoT, but what caught my special attention is actually part of presentation speaking about interdisciplinary approach in PLM.

The complexity of products is growing and we need to expand a horizon of management information about product beyond current boundary. This is a main point behind future BoM – integrated and interdisciplinary.


The future system, according to Dr. Eigner, will have a capability to span wide between requirements planning down to the manufacturing resources and process.


I like the idea and think it very powerful vision. One of the thing Dr. Eigner mentioned in his presentation was related to the fact future belongs to global part numbers. It made me think more about Part Numbers, Identification and classification.

I wanted to bring my 2 years old blog first- The future of Part numbers and Global Identification. In a current manufacturing environment, product information is going beyond borders of your company and even beyond your stable supply chain. The diversity of manufacturers, suppliers, individual makers combined with increased amount of e-commerce is creating the need to use product identification more broadly and maybe in more synchronized and standard way.

I’ve been watching the development of Product schema as part of This is probably one of the most interesting publicly accepted product definition schema used online. Pay attention it uses GTIN.

On the opposite side of the world, enterprise systems – PDM, PLM and ERP are making a case for insignificant Part Numbers. My recent blog – Why to use significant part numbers in 21st century raised a wave of discussion online and offline.

The main point I captured in this discussion is related to database identifiers and product classification. It seems to me, most of people are missing these two things. The reality of all PDM / PLM systems today is RDBMS. In this database driven world, most of PLM systems are preferring not to expose identification outside and lose control of identification assignment. It simplifies logic especially when it comes to mapping of data between different systems and change management.

So, how systems are going to survive in the future manufacturing networks? In the future, data is going to be even more intertwined between domains and systems. It will be hard to survive without stable identification and it will make a case to create global part numbering schema for systems to rely on for future operation.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing is getting more complex, connected and dependent on multiple organizations and systems. In such environment, global part numbering system can provide a potential pain relief to integrated multiple systems in an organization (requirements, software configuration management, PDM, PLM, ERP) as well as to provide a foundation for future network of manufacturers and suppliers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture with PNs credit to eBay link


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  • David

    Good to see this topic come up again, I haven’t read you previous article on this but I do have some experience on a similar topic that Id like to share.
    Just before the dotcom bubble burst I worked for a B2B dotcom which was building an online catalogue of parts for the shipbuilding industry. The website was based on the Swedish ERP system MOVEX and happened to assign every item (about 1million) in the catalogue a UUID when it was downloaded. Many of our customers, and a few industry consultants started to think that this UUID would be the perfect basis to follow any item throughout its lifecycle, i.e. in the CAD and engineering systems, in the procurement system, in the operational maintenance systems, this UUID assigned at the parts birth would follow it forever. The PLM systems I have worked with had some similar concepts but over complicated the problem as far as I could see with Serialised ID, Physical ID, Functional ID etc.
    it seems to me that this is problem that could relatively easily be solved by the ‘UUID at birth’ concept.

  • beyondplm

    David, thanks for this great comment and information sharing! It is very interesting to see a trajectory of things first introduced during era and 10-15 years later coming to the maturity. UUID is one of them.

    I’d suggest to think about URI (which can be URL and URN) to identify things globally. Semantic web ( gives a good guidance about URI and Tim Berners Lee work is another good place to look for more information).

    I think UUID is a form of URN. So, everything we can say about URI usage is applied. is one of the most promising work that practically used today to identify products. It doesn’t do much for PDM/PLM/ERP and mostly focus on web and e-commerce in my view. But it is a good starting point.

    Would love to discuss more. You can send me an email to oleg at beyondplm dot com. How your Serialized, Physical and Functional IDs are different from URIs with the same namespace?

    Best, Oleg