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When you're considering parts for your prototype, take a moment to think about your part numbering system. If your prototype is right, and you move to production, organization will be a big part of what makes/breaks you as you scale.


Essentially, when it comes to naming your parts, your choices are an intelligent part numbering scheme, or a non-intelligent part numbering scheme. If you're trying to decide which one is right for you, here are a few pros and cons of intelligent part numbering.


(And go here for another full article on the advantages/disadvantages of intelligent part numbering.)

A few pros/cons of intelligent part numbering

AdvantagesWhy it works
Efficient searching - If you’ve labeled all resistors with part  numbers starting with ‘RES’ (for example), you can more easily group  similar parts in your design documentation together and swiftly sort  among them.
Clear frame of reference for each part - Descriptive part numbers specify the group  to which every part belongs, so you can immediately see when a part is  in the wrong group.
Process efficiency - Because parts with similar naming  conventions are all handled the same way, you can predefine the change  routings, review processes and manufacturing steps for each part number  class or category.
Disadvantages -
Why it’s a challenge
Training and knowledge required - The individual responsible for assigning  part numbers must understand which group to place the part in and how  subgroups interact. Because so much is based on the naming convention,  mis-naming a part can jeopardize the product design.
Ongoing maintenance - Descriptive part numbers require foresight  and continual adjustment as you incorporate new parts into your design.  Part group sizes must also be considered in advance so you don’t get  stuck with a significant number string 0-9 and an eleventh part.

If you are struggling to keep your product data organized and controlled, today's resource round up is for you. Here are some of my favorite BOM resources from Arena (full disclosure - I work there!) Whether your product data is in Excel, on a napkin, or in a PLM system, there is probably something here that can answer your most pressing BOM question.


Engineering BOM: the ins and outs

The EBOM is the starting point for any product. Learn how the EBOM differs from the MBOM, and download the Arena BOM Master Kit—one of our most popular downloads.

The manufacturing BOM: critical for successfully building a product

Unlike the EBOM, which is organized according to the design of a  product, the MBOM is structured to support how a product is assembled.  Here are tips for better MBOMs and a link to the Arena BOM Master Kit.

Sample BOMs

Need a visual? Here’s how a GPS navigation product BOM would look in  both Excel and a dedicated BOM management system like Arena.

Three tips for building better BOMs

The best BOM management system in the world won’t help you if you  don’t create correct and complete BOMs from the start. Here are three  tips I originally shared on the Arena Blog about building better BOMs.

10 tips for better Excel BOMs

If you are managing your BOMs in Excel, here are 10 tips to help you keep your data organized.

Should you manage your BOMs with ERP?

ERP systems are NOT optimal for managing product data during the design stage—find out why.

Why is it so hard to move a BOM from Engineering to Manufacturing?

An in depth explanation of common disconnects between engineering and  production—particularly when it comes to managing the bill of  materials.

3 tips for taking control of your bill of materials

This cautionary tale tells the story of how the lack of a centralized  BOM delayed one company’s launch for months. It also comes with a  bonus—three key tips for keeping BOMs in sync and under control.

Sharing BOMs with your supply chain?

Use the PDX File standard to share your BOMs in a clear, structured format.

Going global is a great sign that business is booming, but international customers bring the added demands and stress of international delivery. As you gain traction in other countries you will find there is a great deal of cost associated with getting your products to the point of delivery—especially countries that have added tariffs and fees.




There are a few different ways to go about reducing the costs of a global customer base, but the first question you will have to answer is - "Can my current supplier scale to meet my new demands?" If they can, then you will be faced with a decision - - should you cut internationally delivery costs by manufacturing closer to customers, or should you stick with your current supplier and find another way to cut costs?


From the Arena blog, here are some considerations that may help you decide what move is right for your business.


You may want to consider new suppliers closer to your customers if  . . .


  • You have a mature product
  • You have a well-documented and well-managed product
  • You feel comfortable in your ability to deal with and manage risk
  • There are several competing companies that can address your manufacturing needs
  • Manufacturing isn’t your core competency or the core driver of your product’s value


You may want to stick with your current supplier team if . . .


  • Your product is immature
  • You can’t afford a reduction in quality
  • You are dependent on a competency owned by your current suppliers


For more info on this subject, here are a couple of articles I think are particularly useful. Enjoy!


Tips and resources for managing your outsourcing relationships

Manufacturing outsourcing challenges and how to solve them

If you're two guys in a garage, you can ignore this post, I am sure Excel works fine for you.


Everyone else, I'm talking to you.


Why rely on Excel when there are so many cool cloud products that can help you manage your business?


For example - - to communicate better w/designers and external vendors, Proof HQ offers an awesome solution for managing feedback and approval of creative projects. To share, manage and access business files online, I love


I think for general collaboration, and on the sales/marketing side of the building, there is wide-spread acceptance of cloud products, but when it comes to more comprehensive solutions for managing product data, finances, etc, I think people shy away from the cloud, but I think that is a mistake too.


For example, if you’re still using Excel to manage your product data, you’ve probably   noticed that managing change and collaboration with a global supply  chain is an organizational nightmare. Excel is not-collaborative,  creates multiple versions of the same doc, and relies on a Microsoft  product.


From the Arena Blog, here are 5 reasons why Excel is not ideal for managing engineering data.


  1. As your  product goes through multiple revisions, one-dimensional record keeping makes real collaboration nearly  impossible.
  2. BOMs are highly relational, which makes managing your product record  on several static spreadsheets extremely challenging.
  3. Excel can’t easily track product compliance requirements in the same place as the BOM, which leads to  oversight of critical compliance requirements.
  4. Multiple internal and external teams need access to the BOM to edit  the product record throughout the product life-cycle, and in many cases,  multiple versions are created as “save as” docs - another great way to make mistakes.
  5. Spreadsheets cannot communicate with other business systems such as  ERP.


Arena offers a BOM and change management cloud solution, but are there any other lightweight cloud products you use as an engineer or manufacturer (that can replace Excel?)