The type code – a blessing or a curse?

We put the type code to the test – join in the discussion!

No matter whether it’s the process industry or electrical engineering, automation or sensor technology, or the food or automotive industry – the trend toward ever more varied products for component manufacturers is now part of day-to-day business. We have repeatedly seen one thing that poses the same challenge for all manufacturers: type code does not scale!

Type codes, often also referred to as part numbers or order codes, are human-readable codes. They identify a unique variant of a configurable product and look something like this: “ABCD-12-3E-F-45-G6”. Code in this form encodes the subset of the features that are relevant for the configuration. It therefore unambiguously represents a particular product configuration with the characteristic values encoded in the individual sections. The way the type code is shown at a customer level is practically self-explanatory for most component manufacturers. The composition of the code is often even shown in the form of an explanatory chart on a data sheet.

In order for it to remain human-readable, however, this form of code must not exceed a certain length and complexity. And this is precisely where this established tradition clashes with the current requirements for individualisation: the type code can only scale up to a finite number of product variants. And in addition to this, a combination of configurable products can no longer be practically mapped in a single type code.

And yet people still cling to type code. Why?

One thing is clear: the customer needs a purchase order reference. This provides information on their individual product, how it is put together and how they can reorder it. But are there any other requirements that make this form of code necessary? Are there other stakeholders besides the customer who may need different information? And most importantly: does this reference really have to be human-readable?

I am convinced that companies are wasting huge amounts of money to keep redundant structures alive in the form of the type codes!

What is your opinion on this? et me know about the challenges you are currently facing. Do you have any ideas about how to solve them? Even hearing about failures you have experienced would be helpful. Because I will use your input to create an overview of the opinions of all participating component manufacturers. If you wish, you can, however, remain anonymous. Afterwards, you will find your own contribution in this overview and will benefit from the summary and the experiences of others. If there is enough interest, we will also set up a roundtable on this topic.

I really look forward to hearing from you!

Dr. Thorsten Krebs
Dr. Thorsten Krebs

Head of Consulting, encoway GmbH