The concept Part is by far the most important in the manufacturing industry. It is the building element of the Products and the central object to which we adhere most of the engineering documentation.
In the "good old days" when we had smaller autonomous factories, we could manage with a simple part number that signifying both the Part as such and the Drawing defining the Part. This was a very common way.
To-day, when we have enterprises consisting of several Product Companies located around the world developing and manufacturing a variety of Products that may have a lot of Parts and Components in common and where some of the companies involved actually are Vendors intimately participating etc., life has become much more complicated. The simple way we used to do things simply does not work any more.
Geometric Models and Raster Images.
The amount of documentation has also increased a lot. With the CAD/CAX technology we have got not only the drawings in vector and raster formats but also Geometric Models of several kinds and the ability to build virtual mock-ups etc. This evolution has not only happened in Product Engineering. The development of new tools and methods in Manufacturing Engineering is immense and has also created a lot of new documentation. Most of all this documentation is related to Part.
However, in order to be able to organize all the documents related to Parts and the iterations of Engineering Changes related to Parts, it has become imperative to introduce Part Version. In the Enterprise world it is no longer enough to identify the Part by a Part Number. It is necessary to specify the Part Number related to a certain Company within the Enterprise and the Part Version in order to be sure you relate to the correct version of a specific Part proxy.
Part Description and Part Name
Due to the globalization it has also become necessary to have the Part Name and Part Description in several languages and these have to be standardized regarding terminology adopted within the industry. Engineers should not be allowed to assign the Part Names freely since this will create a multitude of synonyms, spelling varieties and abbreviations, impossible to use in mechanized translation to several languages.
Since it is often the case that there is a certain level of commonality of parts between different Product Companies within an Enterprise and that there is a strive to reuse parts already in use in current manufacturing, there is also a need to provide means to re-find parts that can be used in new Products or new versions of existing Products etc. We know that it will save a lot of money if we can reuse part more than we actually do. The remedy is often to introduce some kind of Parts Classification and Part Information Retrieval System where you can re-find the Parts belonging to a certain class.
We also have to keep track of who has the privilege to change the Part. The Part may be used in several Products being developed and manufactured by several Product Companies. Who "owns" the Part? To which Product Company does it belong?
Evolution will also result in cases where a Part is superseded by a new Part meaning that the superseded Part should no longer be used in new Products nor be used as added part in Engineering Product Changes. This calls for some relations in the database and some rules in the PDM applications to prevent the reuse of a superseded Part.
Part Master Database.
It should be basic to have a common Enterprise Part Information Database. This database should be common for all information about a Part that is not related to the Product Structure. This database should be used in any application in need of Part Information. Requirements should be very well explained if anyone wants to create any other Part Information Database within the Enterprise.
Various information in the database can be made accessible to different people depending on their Roles in various Processes. Some data will be generally accessible within the Extended Enterprise. It is also an excellent base for the creation of a Data Warehouse on which we can base a lot of different functions.
Pre Production Parts Planning (PPPP)
In order to be able to realize Concurrent Engineering on Parts level, it is necessary to be able to support planning of parallel activities related to the development of New Parts from early Product Engineering to the start of assembling the New Part in Manufacturing.