How Efficient is Your Parts Management?

How Efficient is Your Parts Management

Many old stories begin with the phrase “Back in the day…”  Well, back in the day when Industrial Design Engineers, Procurement Professionals and Supply Managers needed to vet suppliers and find parts, they went to their bookcase where they housed a two dozen+ volume buying guide containing tens of thousands of pages of information on over 20,000 manufacturing companies.  This encyclopedia of outsourcing commonly known as the “Big Green Books”, each about 3 inches thick, contained specifications and product information from thousands of manufacturers, interspersed among adds.  One needed a heavily reinforced bookcase to house well over a hundred pounds of books.  After narrowing down their search it usually played out like this — the design engineer or purchasing agent would make a part selection, call in three vendors to get quotes from each, pick the lowest price, and wait 2+ weeks for the parts to arrive. Often only to discover they were either out of spec, or the wrong parts altogether. Today we might call that maverick buying when an employee purchases goods without authorization.

Do you ever manually recreate supplier parts in your CAD application?

Fortunately, those days are over. However, to illustrate reinventing the wheel instead of spending time on innovation — a national survey discovered that 83% of engineers still spend time recreating parts that are readily available online. By recreating CAD models of commercial off-the-shelf parts (COTS), engineers spend time manually recreating CAD representations which already exist. This creates little value in the final design and opens the door to costly errors and rework.

To ensure accuracy engineers need CAD model search capability in order to verify that a COTS part fits within their designs. They should source the part directly from the manufacturer or a well-respected distributor. Strategic part management with manufacturer verified CAD catalogs embedded into the CAD & PLM environment reduces work for everyone involved and ensures accurate parts master data, lowering engineering costs, streamlining procurement, and helping to ensure symmetry with the manufacturing process. This can only happen with a concerted, collaborative effort from all stakeholders. And in order for everyone to work together smoothly, there must be a streamlined software environment.


Take the example of an engineer at a major industrial fluid controls company who was recently designing a new hydraulic pump and selected a two bolt SAE AA ISO 50-2 mounting flange as a component.  To no avail, she began by searching their CAD files to include the part in the pump’s bill-of-materials. Frustrated, she searched the company’s PLM and ERP systems for this common part.  Surprised they didn’t have it as an approved item, she worked with purchasing to obtain 5,000 flanges from an approved distributor, essentially maverick buying.  The engineer and the purchasing agent both have busy schedules and have to meet tight deadlines.  They couldn’t waste any more time on this simple flange. The order was placed.  Two days later the receiving department logged them in with the 8,000 they already had in stock, but not in their ERP inventory system.  The company’s CAD, PLM and ERP systems were all siloed, with little or no integration between them. Consequently, this is an example of wasted engineering resources and overstock of parts. If this continues, it not only affects design cost overruns, but added inventory carrying costs. Clearly, both factors cut into the company’s bottom line.


The Solution

In today’s Industry 4.0 environment the globalization of manufacturing and digital transformation can present great challenges to manufacturers. Component manufacturers and OEMs are forced to meet increasing demands to digitize every aspect of their company, eliminate siloed information and ensure synergy of integrated platforms. For this reason, many component manufacturers now provide their product data management in digital libraries. This includes all the required component information in a digital product catalog that can communicate with their customer’s integrated systems. This web based e-catalog is an electronic resource that provides information on products and services offered by the vendor to enhance customer product selection, and online ordering capabilities. These digital catalogs are the most efficient because they can be integrated directly from design to engineering and into the company’s production lines.


Lighthouse Factories & Parts Management – The Beacons to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

“Lighthouse” Factories are production sites which are world leaders in the successful adoption and integration of cutting-edge technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The paradigm shift resulting from Industry 4.0 is characterized by a fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical and digital spheres. There are three reasons why today’s transformations characterize this shift: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of breakthroughs in technology has no historical precedent. Technology is evolving at an exponential rate and is disrupting almost every industry around the world. The extent and complexity of these changes are directing an evolving transformation of entire systems of engineering, production, and management.

In collaboration with McKinsey and Company, the World Economic Forum identified several lighthouse facilities and recognized them among the most advanced production sites in the world. A community of more than 100 advanced manufacturing sites and value chains that advance efficiency, sustainability and workforce engagement through innovation include specific company sites such as:

  • Sandvik Coromant Industrial Tools, Sweden
  • DCP Midstream, United States
  • Schneider Electric, United States
  • Procter & Gamble Consumer Goods, Czech Republic
  • Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Italy
  • BMW Group, Germany
  • LG Electronics, South Korea
  • And many more

These companies embrace today’s advanced technologies in engineering, design, supply chain and production, leveraging digital product data management for standard and purchased parts from diverse component manufacturers. The technology of strategic part management allows for all relevant information from different systems to be merged onto one platform. Strategic Parts Management software can integrate nearly 1,000 manufacturer certified product catalogs based on advanced technology that serves as an integral part of Industry 4.0. Smart catalog technology allows manufacturers of standard and purchased parts to extend their digital product information to include critical metadata such as kinematics, end-of-life, and customs tariff numbers. Companies planning to move into the next industrial age can digitize their process by allowing them to seamlessly incorporate components into their designs and subsequently into production.



Strategic Part Management software makes it easy to integrate, find and reuse CAD models and data. Users can search for internal CAD data in multiple business systems using 3D shape search and attribute search functions. They can also navigate trillions of supplier parts from digital libraries within their CAD and PLM systems. All from one dashboard, engineers, designers, and purchasers can manage and find company parts, supplier parts, and standard parts by implementing a strategic part management system.

Users can search for internal CAD data in multiple business systems using 3D shape search and attribute search functions. They can also search digital libraries that contain trillions of parts from suppliers within their CAD or PLM systems to locate the right part. Engineers, buyers, and designers can all access one dashboard to manage and locate company parts, supplier parts and standard parts by implementing a strategic part management system.

Leveraging Strategic Part Management software provides the ability to:

  • Reuse CAD Data to allow engineers to find and deploy approved parts, instead of searching for them or recreating them.
  • Stop using duplicate, erroneous and obsolete parts that are slowing your engineers down.
  • Get manufacturer verified catalogs & CAD content.
  • Allow your purchasing department to identify duplicates and consolidate purchasing using pricing information from the ERP.
  • Give engineers the ability to search and find parts their own way by using shape, topology, a sketch, full-text, and/or dimensions.

The importance of these capabilities cannot go understated in today’s Industry 4.0 environment. Digital communication between procurement, design engineers, suppliers, and finally the shop floor can be a catalyst for expanding a company’s reach across the supply chain. As an interconnected global network, innovations should be fostered to ensure supply chain resilience and competitive advantages that require connected and reconfigurable multi-tier supply ecosystems.

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Adam Beck

Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Marketing graduate from the Miami University, Farmer School of Business in Oxford Ohio, Adam has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.