Mnemonics is a key tool for use in all areas of supply chain logistics; perhaps nowhere more important than in part numbering. Part numbering schemes can be neatly sub-divided into two major groups – intelligent (i.e. with mnemonics) and non-intelligent (i.e. random without mnemonics). We have used intelligent part numbering to great advantage on many projects. One glaring example was L.L. Bean where the first three digits of the nine digit part number reference the style of the item (i.e. sweaters, pants, shirts, etc.), the second three digits represent the size (i.e. small, medium, large, extra large), and the last three digits represent the color. Using our demand pattern recognition algorithms we were able to discern that customers tend to order within the same style, within the same size, and across varying colors. That realization led to a complete re-vamping of L.L. Bean’s slotting yielding a 40% increase in picking productivity. We have also found intelligent part numbering to be very useful in bill of material management and inventory pattern recognition.
In addition to mnemonics, we have found the following practices to yield higher efficiencies and accuracies in supply chain logistics.
1. Same length part numbers
2. Unambiguous identifying part numbers
3. Consistent break points
4. Groupings of 3 and 4 numbers
5. Elimination of leading zeroes
6. File character elimination
7. Minimal character length