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Is It “Good” To Use Good Numbering Programs?

Many instances throughout my profession, I’ve been confronted with a dilemma: will we develop an clever numbering system or can we make the most of an rising integer system? It doesn’t matter if we’re discussing article numbers in an ERP system, CAD drawings, or some other nomenclature for a piece product. The query of clever numbering all the time comes up within the dialog.

To assist outline a “sensible” system, including any intelligence to the identify of a product that helps the top person rapidly establish product attributes constitutes a wise numbering system.

Some examples:

  • Space Codes within the Telephone Firm:
    • 216 – Cleveland
    • 310 – Los Angeles
    • 212 – New York Metropolis
  • Manufacturing Numbers:
    • 100### – machined components
    • 200### – electrical parts
    • 300### – weldments
  • Automobile & Truck Tires
    • P### – tire width
    • ##R## – side ratio and Diameter

Why Do Individuals Like “Good” Numbers?

Blue numbers


When your cellphone rings, you have got a good suggestion the place the decision originated based mostly on three digits. If you’re shopping for tires, you already know the fundamentals earlier than you have got regarded into efficiency, velocity score, and put on. Strolling right into a manufacturing facility, you’ll be able to grasp what is going on by figuring out the half quantity. Clever numbers assist customers to seek out info rapidly.

When the system is nicely outlined (i.e., tires), the market accepts these as norms and makes use of these clever numbers as jargon. These programs can simplify discussions and assist in swift communication. Individuals gravitate to those programs as a result of it simplifies their effort.

“Good” Numbers Are Finite… And Will Finish In Battle.

Person dials a phone number


Finally, all sensible programs will refill the obtainable combos and finish. The finite listing of combos will end in overlap or run-out over time. Permit me as an instance.

Once I was youthful, Cleveland had one space code for all cellphone numbers: 216. Ohio Bell notified everybody two new space codes could be added to the “216” area as a result of they ran out of numbers. Ohio Bell overlaid 440 and 330 in the identical geographic area altering folks’s cellphone numbers. I grew to become 440, and my grandmother remained 216. With the brand new numbers, Ohio Bell had eight million distinctive numbers to satisfy.

Additional again in time, cellphone numbers started with two-letter codes for town you lived in. A well-known quantity in Cleveland (sing it loud my pals)…

GArfield 1 – 23 23”

GA referred to a suburb of Garfield south of Cleveland. Commercials ran every single day with this jingle, and to today, you’ll be able to nonetheless dial the quantity to have your home windows changed (I checked).

What occurred when cities like Garfield, Garrettsville, and Gates Mills in Ohio all had the identical prefix? How did everybody differentiate? Shortly Ohio Bell deserted the “metropolis” designation for a sequence of “dumb” numbers to handle their programs.

Careers Have Moments Of Déjà Vu…

Numbers/numbering system concept


Early in my profession, I used to be debating this topic with one among my mentors. We had been launching a brand new ERP, and we had the controversy of clever versus dumb numbers. He joked that might not be my final argument on the topic, and he provided I might have this dialog many instances all through my profession.

I’ve assisted or witnessed seven ERP installations in my profession. I’ve been included within the implementation group thrice. I’ve had the “sensible” quantity dialog 10 or extra instances as nicely. Historical past usually repeats itself.

Most corporations have developed a “sensible” system out of necessity. Within the early days, the enterprise wanted a shortcut. ERP programs and spreadsheets had been nonexistent. These “sensible” programs made work simpler.

In every numbering dialog, I’ve been an advocate for the “dumb” methodology. Collisions will happen, and numbers will run out. With a cellphone quantity situation, eight million combos takes an extended, very long time to satisfy.

I spent 13 years in industrial truck wheels. We had a wise system the place the primary digit outlined the wheel diameter. We used integers 0 via 9, so we had room for 10 totally different wheel diameters. Wheels are bought in lots of sizes, and one explicit diameter class is 17.0 inch and 17.5 inch. The quantity “6” was assigned to 17.# inch-diameter wheels. Do you know if the wheel was 17.0 or 17.5? You can not inform due to the overlap. Worst but, we exceeded 10 totally different wheel diameter sizes in our development over time from 13-inch to over 27-inch diameter wheels. As soon as we outgrew the “10” combos, what did we do about half numbers?

“Dumb” Numbers Do Not Save The Day.

Man types his credit card number into his phone


The punchline? Use a “dumb,” sequential quantity with no significance, no finite worth, and no collisions with each new merchandise created. Drawback solved, proper?

Does the quantity 2164212323 imply something? Some will discover my instance above. Will 2169311212 have any relevance?

With out context, dumb numbers haven’t any which means. They’re merely a string of digits. UPC codes, VIN numbers, and zip codes are only a sequence of alphanumeric digits defining one thing. And not using a “key” to their which means, what worth do they add? The reply is nothing.

“Dumb” numbers require a system behind them. Zip codes will need to have a geographical key to unlock their vacation spot. UPC codes want a pc system within the background to reference numbers. VIN numbers may be unlocked with the producer’s codes.

With a great assist system, “dumb” numbers work very nicely. Figuring out find out how to discover info from these numbers depends on the infrastructure. Social Safety numbers and bank cards are wonderful examples. With the infrastructure, these numbers can unlock treasure troves of knowledge or can mean you can spend cash with out worry.

What Do I Do — Keep “Good” Or Act “Dumb”?



As soon as in my profession, I could have gotten it proper for the scenario. Most implementations, my groups have chosen the purely “dumb” resolution for ease. Solely as soon as did I witness the flawed choice.

“Good” numbers will ultimately fail. They’re unbelievable within the quick run as a result of they short-cut the system. Individuals will use these numbers virtually as their very own language. Regardless of the advantages and ease of use, a “sensible” system will collapse.

“Dumb” numbers are easy to implement. Integers are sequential, and the product related to every interval is random. With a background assist system, “dumb” numbers will run endlessly.

My greatest implementation was a results of my ERP group’s Kaizen occasion. I used the cellphone quantity instance to attract them away from “sensible” numbers that had already failed within the earlier 10 years. My group was towards actually “dumb” numbers as a result of they misplaced all intelligence for the product. We discovered a compromise.

Our first 5 digits had been a category of components outlined by their major attribute. We had 100,000 obtainable combos inside this sequence, so it was tough to exhaust all of these numbers inside our lifetime. The second set of numbers was additionally 5 digits that had been sequential for the merchandise that was generated.

Stainless-steel nuts & bolts started with the quantity 12457, and every measurement or size was the sequential integer defining its distinctive attribute (12457-0001, 0002, and many others.). We had seven thousand plus variations for diameter, size, screw high, and many others., and we knew each one among these things was stainless-steel. Black oxide nuts & bolts had been 12458, and plain metal had been 12456.

Which Resolution Is Greatest?

Man checks for a product in a warehouse


I can say with certainty the “sensible” method will ultimately create issues. I’ve seen these collisions and finite combos finish lengthy earlier than the corporate wants room to develop. I discourage “sensible” sequences for any enterprise.

“Dumb” numbers have been fairly profitable. When the spine construction is current, merely typing a quantity right into a system offers me every part I want. Bank card corporations use a 16-digit system yielding over a trillion combos. These programs are extraordinarily efficient and worthwhile when tied to a robust infrastructure.

Personally, I used to be pleased with my group and their effort to develop the hybrid system. We took components of every idea and created a brand new paradigm. We had been capable of inventory objects in our warehouse by the primary 5 digits, and we even used these “sensible” codes to plan manufacturing. When it got here to the discrete finish merchandise, the system supplied particular particulars.

Problem your self when making these choices. Is the intelligence definitely worth the threat of working out of numbers? Does the “sensible” system add worth? Can I reside with “dumb” numbers which might be primarily random? Working together with your ERP implementation group, full an train to find out what’s greatest for you.

Keep in mind, our lives had been sure by sensible programs—space codes. All of us had been outlined by the area the place we lived. With the finite sequence of numbers inside that space code and with the introduction of cell telephones, which may be geographically situated wherever on the earth, our cellphone numbers are actually dumb. The one intelligence added to your cellphone quantity is you.

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