Let me talk again about Part Numbers. The last time I wrote about Part Numbers, it created a healthy discussion. I’d encourage you to refresh your memory and read one of my blog post back one year ago – PLM Data, Identification and Part Numbers. I found some interesting facts specially reading all 51 comments to this post. Finally, the following picture on Josh Mings’ yfrog, made me think about Parts, Items and Numbering system again.
The picture is, obviously, funny… However, it made me think about some problems related to identification of “things” in CAD, PDM, PLM products and, actually, about global data identification in a manufacturing company.
Part Numbers and Global Identification Problem
One of the problems I can see in manufacturing organizations is related to identification of assemblies, parts, documents and other related information. The problem is not new. It was exists many years. The elements of identification have multiple dimensions. You can think about different phases of lifecyle on one side. On the other side, you can think about manufacturing sites. There are many other elements in this identification schema. You can ask me – companies are implementing solutions to identify parts – what’s the big deals? It is just names or numbers…
I think, these problems become more complicated because of several trends that happen in manufacturing these days. I just bring few – globalization and global manufacturing, the complexity of products, supply chain optimization and many others. In my view, the complexity of identification causes raising complexity of software to support it and, at the end, the complexity of business processes. Take a look on the following picture from Wikipedia (obviously, I don’t want to expose any customer data I have):
I can also mention few other problems that exist in every manufacturing company and not only for large OEMs – handling of loosely coupled information, manage multiple and sometimes un-planned information sources, harmonization of many “small packets” of corporate data, etc. To have an efficient identification can be helpful. I can see companies are spending lots of time discussing an “identification” problem and trying to come to a reasonable solution that fits their need.
Identification Silver Bullet and Semantic Web Promise
Is there a “silver bullet” that can help to companies to solve identification problems? Unfortunately, in my view, the technologies that were developed 20-30 years ago cannot scale up to handle existing complexity of the information stored in CAD, PDM, PLM, ERP and other business systems. I see an interesting promise coming from semantic technologies that were developed for the last decade. One of the possible solutions is to apply the techniques developed on the web such as URI as well as elements of RDF and OWL to identify elements of data. In a nutshell, the idea of unique global data identification that can be developed on the level that provides Part Numbering schema in multiple divisions in your company.
What is my conclusion? There is no silver bullet that can solve the problem of Part Numbers and data identification in manufacturing companies tomorrow. Data related problems cannot be solved overnight. At the same time, application of new technologies that were developed on the web for the last 10-15 years can provide a step by step plan to solve the current “data disaster”. Just my thoughts…
*picture is courtesy of solidsmack yfrog account.