The following parameters are important for a good product layout in OpenERP
- A good part numbering scheme
- Product attributes to facilitate an effective product search
Part Numbering Scheme
One of the biggest challenge in an ERP solution is defining the right part numbering scheme. Which part numbering scheme to choose, changes from case to case. Let me describe one such case below.
Our client was into low volume manufacturing which also needed some R&D in the initial stages. So significant challenges they had was
- Creation of a new product while there already existed a product
- Ordering of material while there already existing stock of such a material in stores
- The part number was not easy to remember and key in
- Part number was not machine readable
As part of developing a part number module for this manufacturing client we decided on a simple but intelligent 6 digit alpha numeric scheme based on product category and a sequential numbering for the products within the product category. I am not claiming this is the best way but that it suited best, our client's requirement.
Here were the points that were considered before going for this part numbering scheme.
1. There is a lot of debate on whether we should use non-intelligent (random and all numbers) or intelligent (descriptive and provides significant information of the part). We went in for an intelligent part numbering scheme as given a part number most of the guys were able to know what they were looking for.
2. It is recommended that the part number is less than 7 digits so that it is easy to remember and faster to key in.
3. We used only capital letters so that we can use a simple alpha numeric bar code scanner (7 digit, A-Z,0-9) which is easily available in the market.
eg. 4.2 K-Ohm resistor was stored under a product category as All Products (ALL) -> Electronics (ELC) -> Components (COM) -> Resistor (RES) - 4.2 K-Ohm resistor (Assuming fifth product created under this category). The part number would be RES005.
We added a field called product attributes to the products. The product attribute was a list of name and value pair which described the product specification in more details.
For example RES005 would have the following attributes.
value:4.2k,type:tantalum,rated power:1W,tolerance:+/- 5%,temperature high:125,temperature low:-55 ...
We also developed a search algorithm which would parse this product attributes in addition to part number and other product details.
The end result was an intelligent part numbering scheme and having product attributes to refine the searches. So on creation of product, the individual will be able to search for similar parts and will not create a new product if the same product exists. The same helps while ordering of a new part as well.
Part numbers were simple 6 digit codes and partially self defining and easy to remember.
A low cost bar code reader could read the bar code labels.