Epicor Recommendations: Part Numbering – Part 1 of a 3 part series – from an Epicor White Paper


There are many opinions on the subject of “proper” part numbering systems within the manufacturing world. This document is meant to be used as a guideline for developing and using good part numbering techniques within a manufacturing company.

Many companies fall into what can be called an “accidental” part numbering scheme. This means that there is no thought put into an intelligent design. Still others fall into over-thinking their designs, which makes their part numbering scheme unmanageable and even unusable by other ERP systems.


The first thing to note is that a part number is generally NOT a description of the part…there are separate fields for holding the actual description, as well as part class and product group. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application may also support additional fields that define whether a part is purchased or manufactured, its Unit of Measure (UOM), material analysis codes, etc. For this reason, it is highly suggested that the part number NOT try to be everything for everybody.

For example, it is not recommended that part numbers define whether a part is purchased or manufactured, as this can change over time. Anything that can change should not be embedded into the part number.

Part Number (Stocking)

Every Part in Epicor ERP has a “Part Number,” which is also the primary index for the Part table. In other systems, this may also be called an “Item Number” or a “Stock Keeping Unit” (SKU). This is the central part number for which this document is created. All other part numbers are secondary to this part number, and point to or reference this part number.

There should be one and only one part number set up for each item that is kept in stock. The only reason for having a different part number is if the “Fit/Form/ Function” of that part is different from the previous version. Note that this “Fit/ Form/Function” argument is also used as a reason for creating a new revision of a part, but that would be a completely different discussion not covered in this document. Here we assume that each part number represents a specific item, and there are no duplicate items in stock under a different part number.

Manufacturer Part Number

This scheme is how manufacturers number their parts. Since you may have multiple manufacturers for any one part number, it is possible to have multiple manufacturers and multiple manufacturer part numbers assigned to any one of your part numbers.

Example: You may have a standard “Bolt” that you stock as part number B1001, which is made by two manufacturers, ABC Metals and Acme Machining. They both have their own part numbering systems: ABC Metals labels this part 1234-12, and Acme Machining labels this part ABC-100. The system can store this cross-reference.

Usage: if properly tied together, the MFG Part number will be displayed and printed on POs and other paperwork.

Supplier Part Number

A supplier part number is the number that your supplier/vendor labels your part. Your supplier may be a manufacturer, or they may be a distributor for another manufacturer. Since they may reference their part number differently than the manufacturer, you can create a three-way tie between your part, the manufacturer part, and the supplier part.

Example: Again, using the “Bolt” part number B1001 above, you can purchase the bolt from two distribution companies. One of them, Global Hardware, labels this bolt GH-1001. It turns out that Global Hardware also distributes both manufacturers (ABCMetals and ACMEMachining) under the same part number. You can specify this three-way tie. Note that you may also have multiple suppliers and multiple supplier part numbers called out against your part B1001, even if there is only one manufacturer.

Usage: by tying together, you can accept a quote from your supplier, and it can point to a specific supplier part number and a specific manufacturer in the quote. When a PO is generated, the PO can reference all three part numbers.

Customer Part Number

The ERP system can also have a customer part number cross-reference. This is to handle those times when the customer’s part number is different than your part number. Since multiple customers can purchase the same part, there can be multiple customer part numbers that reference your part. Customer part numbers can also have their own description.

Usage: customer part numbers are referenced and displayed in the sales order entry and acknowledgment.

Internal Part Cross-reference

This final part number option is to create an internal, secondary method of calling out a part number. The internal number can be used as a shortcut to a longer part number, or it can modify any serial numbering methodologies for the base part. It is also possible to have multiple internal cross-references.

About Epicor

Epicor Software Corporation is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industries. With more than 40 years of experience, Epicor has more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries. Epicor solutions enable companies to drive increased efficiency and improve profitability. With a history of innovation, industry expertise, and passion for excellence, Epicor inspires customers to build lasting competitive advantage. Epicor provides the single point of accountability that local, regional, and global businesses demand. For more information, visit www.epicor.com.

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Posted in ERP