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Translate and automate Part Names by attributes

Do you spend a lot of time to ensure consistent part names and to translate the names to multiple languages? In this article we will show how this can be automated based on classification.

Background

Part Names (material descriptions) are important in most companies. A good and consistent name lets people in warehouses, purchasers, suppliers and customers understand what is “behind” the part number.

Furthermore, Part Names are hugely important when it comes to customs: Good translations cut down on transit time. An increasing number of our clients recognise this and vast amounts of time and money is spent on translating Part Names / material descriptions. But there is an alternative: Automate the naming of parts!

General Idea

At BoostPLM, we’ve looked into this issue and provides secure, consistent naming and translation by automating the process.

The idea is to utilise the Part Classification (e.g. according to UNSPSC, eClass or similar) and establish a naming template for each Class.

Process

Every Part has a set of attributes specific to its category. As an example, a bolt can be described by its shape, size, length, quality, finish and ISO standard. Therefore, a suitable Part Name for a hexagonal bolt belonging to UNSPSC class 31161620 – Hexagonal Bolts could be:

 

Description Templates

A Part Name in SAP must be shorter than 40 characters. This often requires to use abbreviations and reduce the number of attributes included in the part name. We’ve built a functionality that complies with this demand. Furthermore, we’ve the extended material description without abbreviations and with all attributes are also supported – again fully automated and readily translated.

Below is an example of a template for the 31161620 hexagonal bolt, showing first the short and then the long description:

Figure 1. Template for Material Description (max. 40 characters)

 

Figure 2. Template for Basic Text (multiline)

We use different tags to specify each type of building block in the description template. The following tags were introduced:

[] for attribute value

{} for attribute unit of measurement

Translations

To automate translation, we utilise SAP’s out-of-the-box functionality for handling multiplangue attribute descriptions.

Even better, some alpha-numeric attributes don’t need any translation, e.g. the attribute ‘Standard’ as shown above in the example with the value ‘ISO4014’. This allowed us to separate the alpha-numeric attributes into two groups: One group where English is the default, and another where translation into a specific language is mandatory.

Triggering points

We ended up having the following triggers to kick of the logic to generate the descriptions:

  • Whenever a part’s UNSPSC classification is changed
  • Whenever a part’s attribute is changed
  • Whenever translations are changed
  • Whenever a description template is changed and saved

Automating the Part Naming might be a gradual process and to accommodate this, we can introduce an automation level with the following values:

  • Fully-Automated
  • Semi-Automated

For those Parts designated ‘Semi-automated’, changes to their description would have to be reviewed by a Parts-responsible person. Changes to the description of ‘Fully-Automated’ Parts would kick off whenever a triggering point was raised.

Fully-automated systems obviously need a few checks and balances and we’ve introduced an application log and a set of possible errors that the system should log. The types of error types added were:

  • General update errors on each material (this would typically be object-locking issues due to some users locking the Part already)
  • Truncation of the short description – this would be when the template results in a description exceeding 40 characters.

Conclusion

Automating the naming of Parts could be hugely beneficial to any manufacturing company and greatly help with warehousing, selling, procuring and not least with customs.

If you think you could benefit from an upgrade to your Part Naming system, get in touch and let us investigate the options.

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