Is It "Smart" To Use Smart Numbering Systems?

Is It "Smart" To Use Smart Numbering Systems?

Many occasions throughout my profession, I’ve been confronted with a dilemma: will we develop an clever numbering system or will 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 “good” system, including any intelligence to the title of a product that helps the tip person rapidly determine 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 elements
    • 200### – electrical elements
    • 300### – weldments
  • Automobile & Truck Tires
    • P### – tire width
    • ##R## – side ratio and Diameter

Why Do Individuals Like “Sensible” Numbers?

Blue numbers

When your telephone rings, you could have a good suggestion the place the decision originated primarily based on three digits. If you’re shopping for tires, you already know the fundamentals earlier than you could have seemed into efficiency, velocity ranking, and put on. Strolling right into a manufacturing facility, you’ll be able to grasp what is happening by figuring out the half quantity. Clever numbers assist customers to search 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 help in swift communication. Individuals gravitate to those programs as a result of it simplifies their effort.

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

Person dials a phone number

Ultimately, all good programs will replenish the accessible mixtures and finish. The finite checklist of mixtures will lead to overlap or run-out over time. Permit me for example.

After I was youthful, Cleveland had one space code for all telephone 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 telephone numbers. I turned 440, and my grandmother remained 216. With the brand new numbers, Ohio Bell had eight million distinctive numbers to meet.

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

GArfield 1 – 23 23”

GA referred to a suburb of Garfield south of Cleveland. Commercials ran day-after-day with this jingle, and to at the present time, 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? Rapidly Ohio Bell deserted the “metropolis” designation for a collection 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 talk of clever versus dumb numbers. He joked that may not be my final argument on the topic, and he provided I’d have this dialog many occasions all through my profession.

I’ve assisted or witnessed seven ERP installations in my profession. I’ve been included within the implementation group 3 times. I’ve had the “good” quantity dialog 10 or extra occasions as nicely. Historical past repeatedly repeats itself.

Most corporations have developed a “good” system out of necessity. Within the early days, the enterprise wanted a shortcut. ERP programs and spreadsheets had been nonexistent. These “good” 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 telephone quantity situation, eight million mixtures takes an extended, very long time to meet.

I spent 13 years in business truck wheels. We had a wise system the place the primary digit outlined the wheel diameter. We used integers 0 by 9, so we had room for 10 totally different wheel diameters. Wheels are bought in lots of sizes, and one specific 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 might not inform due to the overlap. Worst but, we exceeded 10 totally different wheel diameter sizes in our development through the years from 13-inch to over 27-inch diameter wheels. As soon as we outgrew the “10” mixtures, 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. Downside solved, proper?

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

With out context, dumb numbers don’t have any that means. They’re merely a string of digits. UPC codes, VIN numbers, and zip codes are only a collection of alphanumeric digits defining one thing. With no “key” to their that means, what worth do they add? The reply is nothing.

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

With an excellent assist system, “dumb” numbers work very nicely. Understanding tips on how to discover info from these numbers depends on the infrastructure. Social Safety numbers and bank cards are glorious examples. With the infrastructure, these numbers can unlock treasure troves of knowledge or can help you spend cash with out worry.

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

Barcode

As soon as in my profession, I’ll have gotten it proper for the state of affairs. Most implementations, my groups have chosen the purely “dumb” resolution for ease. Solely as soon as did I witness the incorrect resolution.

“Sensible” numbers will ultimately fail. They’re incredible within the quick run as a result of they short-cut the system. Individuals will use these numbers nearly as their very own language. Regardless of the advantages and ease of use, a “good” 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 finest implementation was a results of my ERP group’s Kaizen occasion. I used the telephone quantity instance to attract them away from “good” numbers that had already failed within the earlier 10 years. My group was towards really “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 elements outlined by their main attribute. We had 100,000 accessible mixtures inside this sequence, so it was troublesome 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.

Chrome steel nuts & bolts started with the quantity 12457, and every dimension or size was the sequential integer defining its distinctive attribute (12457-0001, 0002, and so forth.). We had seven thousand plus variations for diameter, size, screw prime, and so forth., and we knew each one among this stuff was chrome steel. Black oxide nuts & bolts had been 12458, and plain metal had been 12456.

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Which Answer Is Finest?

Man checks for a product in a warehouse

I can say with certainty the “good” method will ultimately create issues. I’ve seen these collisions and finite mixtures finish lengthy earlier than the corporate wants room to develop. I discourage “good” 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 all the things I would like. Bank card corporations use a 16-digit system yielding over a trillion mixtures. These programs are extraordinarily efficient and beneficial when tied to a robust infrastructure.

Personally, I used to be happy with my group and their effort to develop the hybrid system. We took parts 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 “good” 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 well worth the threat of operating out of numbers? Does the “good” system add worth? Can I dwell with “dumb” numbers which can be basically random? Working along with your ERP implementation group, full an train to find out what’s finest for you.

Keep in mind, our lives had been certain by good programs—space codes. All of us had been outlined by the area the place we lived. With the finite collection of numbers inside that space code and with the introduction of cell telephones, which could be geographically situated anyplace on the earth, our telephone numbers are really dumb. The one intelligence added to your telephone quantity is you.