Part Numbering; Crucial to successful data utilization is the consistency of the naming conventions and format of the attached attributes or IFC data-sets to the 3d models . 

The company already had a fully populated ERP system with a vast library of component and parts that has accumulated over the many years of sub station design.

It is imperative that we incorporate the key identifiers from this data-set to ensure compatibility with the 3D attributes and the ERP system. We did not have the permissions to change the ERP but we were obliged to promote amendments that would make the item descriptions consistent and weed out duplication that may have arisen from historical misspelling when populating fields.


This is the new 3D Model library parts list for standard Insulators.

CAT.ID. is a data field that replicates the ERP system and could not be changed.

TYPE/NAME: The first element of the description we made mandatory INSULATOR, STN POST. The remaining part of the description was ordered but the format was not mandatory.

DESCRIPTION: The first numerical values and the immediate characters LB, CANT was mandatory. Again the remaining portion of the field was advised but as you can see adaptable according to the item.

DRAWING ID: Remember this is MDT (dwg) whereas for Inventor this would be an IPT ID title. The first characters define the Class ID (from ERP) concatenated with the CAT.ID. You may notice that the second part of the ID has a “0” prefix to the CAT.ID. to create a consistent number of characters that facilitates the longer CAT.IDs as per the last row.

In my experience data sets should maintain a degree of consistency in numerical/alphabetical naming formats and description. The latter only needs the prefix or suffix to be mandatory to achieve a structure that will later facilitate interrogation or sorting of data whether that be via a database or spreadsheet.

A certain amount of common sense will allow the engineer to retain some flexibility in defining a part description if only part of the description is mandatory. If you define the entire description field to be fixed then you will find that the engineers spend more time on filling out data-fields instead of designing.

It is enough to have a defined numbering (ID) along with prefixed description formats in order to be able to use the data effectively; any more than that is redundancy.


If I was doing this today I would use Autodesk Vault to define naming conventions according to a set of rules for alphabetical and numerical sequences. Its also a very good tool for the model management and copying assemblies with associated linked files to a project location.

As we will see in a later article, the organisation of the parts list will be the key to using a non-relational database structure for the provision of material/part quantity reports.