Author Topic: Style Numbers, How do you guys do it?  (Read 1485 times)

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Style Numbers, How do you guys do it?
« on: February 12, 2018, 04:51:16 PM »
How do you guys do style numbers ? I'm revisiting our way of doing it and wanted to see how others in the tactical gear and outdoor gear world implement them.

I've been a fan of using military terminology, however that doesn't always work well in the factory, with customers, and suppliers.

For example, the first # in the series is in relation to the level of gear. 1000 would be for first line gear, 2000 would be for 2nd line gear. That leaves you three numbers and 999 total for different products in that category/series. For example the first plate carrier you make could be 2001.

The idea of style #s is that you and your team can easily look at them an know what the product is (plate carrier, pouch, backpack, belt, etc) without having to be on a phone call saying, "Hey, lets talk about that MOLLE belt with the plastic buckle, 18th revision, that we worked on three months ago for a customer", and instead say we need to discuss Style # 1003 (First line products, third product in the series).

Now this makes sense to me and a few others, however it does not to a materials supplier, customer, some factory workers, etc.

How do you guys do it?

Some good resources from one of the best sources on this subject, however it's apparel focused.

Required Reading (Buy this book):
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 09:54:01 PM by Alex »


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Re: Style Numbers, How do you guys do it?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2018, 02:43:54 AM »
At our place we use:

Type (1-9): similar to your lines + provision for clothing, shelters and other stuff that's not personal equipment.
Sub-type (1-9): currently distinguishes the type of equipment (sling, pouch, belt..)
Model (100-999): the actual product
Version (10-99): used for versioning like for software versions
Color (001-999): whatever color table you use

So a current production Black Expresling is #41-10110-001. A commercial type is also used for quick ID, sales and such (here: TT-ELG-BK). The latter could be more developed, interested to hear what others do.
The style is mostly for internal stats and for communicating with factories when error-proofing is a must.

+1 on the F-I resources.


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Re: Style Numbers, How do you guys do it?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2018, 10:34:38 AM »

Thank you for posting how you do it. I just had a call with my team and I think we are going to go with a super simple option. Colors, versions and categories can all be listed or communicated separately outside of the style # in the BOM, patterns and/or techdata package.

We are leaning to one of the following two systems for Style #s.

Keep in mind we have a lot of contract cut & sew (OEM) customers that we cut and sew for, as well as, internal company products.

Option 1.

Five digits in the series. First two #s are for customer identification, and the last three are for identification of the product (No categories for type of products)

For example, 12001 would be for customer 12 (John Doe's Fishing Pouches)

No categories, we just list the product name, color and size in our emails and it's all listed in the bill of materials/tech data packs already.

Not having categories is the biggest issue of this option, however it simplifies things a lot because we make everything from slings to body armor plate carriers to medical back braces. Excel hates to put a zero in front of a # so our style #s will be four digits for the first 1 through 9 customers. We'll also reserve 99 for customers that only need a production run a single time (one shots) and not use 13 like they do in elevators/buildings.

Option 2.

Four digits in the series. First # is for a category (pouch, belt, plate carrier, backpack, etc), last three are for identification of the product.

For Example, 2001 would be for the first pouch we make.

Issues with this are that we now will have repeating style #s because each customer will have to have their own style #s. So 2001 could be a pouch for customer X and Y. Everyone will also have to remember what the first # in the series is for the category and we only have 9 digits in the first # in the style number series to define a lot of different types of products we make.

I'm leaning more towards option 1 to keep things simple.

Our cost sheets all have the different colors in them for a product and we may get different sizes in the same cost sheet as well having a simplified style # of customer and product ID may work best for us.

We'll try this for a few months and if it doesn't work, then we'll course correct. The toughest part is having to keep using all our legacy style #s, however we'll slowly start renaming those to the new #s.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 09:50:40 PM by Alex »


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Re: Style Numbers, How do you guys do it?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2018, 04:28:31 PM »
Very good topic Alex!

Personally, in your instance, I would be running Option 1, or a dual combination.

Given you manufacture for yourself, as well as OEM customers, applying a Customer Identification code is important. You should even apply your own in-house brand a code. As for the remaining digits, you could do either Option 1, or Option 2... and by having the Customer Identification code at the start, you would never have repeating style #'s.

For example: A28-B1709.
A28 is the customer
B1709 is the product - which could be categorised if you like, or just a series of sequential numbers regardless of the product. In this example "17" refers to the year, and "09" refers to the product sequentially. The letters just denote which "series" of numbers you are talking about. So for instance if someone starts talking about B1308, you know that they are talking about a product made in 2013, 8th in the series. Whereas if it were just numbers, and no letters, it would be very easy to confuse products or customers if not ALL numbers were given during conversation.
If you wanted to track revisions, you could add a third layer such as "C1". This would result in A28-B1709-C1. This way if a customer has multiple product revisions, but later decides they want to combine versions, you can quickly tell which bit from which version needs combining.
Yes, now it is getting complicated, but you can see how a series of letters and numbers can help reduce this confusion when only partial information is recieved.

When I was manufacturing in house, this is how we did it (below). Not ideal, and plenty of issues given we had custom colours, features and upgrades, but still helpful for categorising major pattern changes, and lumping similar products together. In our instance it worked, but would have scaling issues...

Our SKUs are written with 4 numbers, occasionally with a letter as well. For example: 4101C

First Number:
The first number refers to what category the product is in. For example:
0XXX - Services Work
1XXX - Messenger Bags
2XXX - Cycling Gear
3XXX - Accessories
4XXX - Backpacks

Second Number:
The second number usually refers to “series” or version the product is. For example:
X0XX - Prototype product
X1XX - First generation product
X2XX - Second generation product (V2 series)
X3XX - Third generation product
and so forth

Third & Fourth Number:
The third and fourth number refer to the product itself (and could reflect minor changes - but not an entire "new" generation of product). This gives room for 99 products per category. For example:
4105: is a Backpack, First Generation, Spare Camel.

Any letters written at the end of the codes refer to “sub products”. Examples include:
C = Custom
Rather than creating an entirely new SKU for an exactly the same product, these letters make it easy to know that one bag is standard, while the other is custom.

Anyway, plenty of food for thought. Hope this all helps!

- Dave
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Re: Style Numbers, How do you guys do it?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2018, 12:31:53 AM »
Very actionable info, thanks!

Reading you I now see that adding a customer code and letters would help making the style number less confusing.
That would be for instance: Cxx-Txx-Yxx-Mxxx-Vxxx-Sxxx

Client xx (we also do OEM)
Type xx
Year of design xx
Model xxx
Version xxx
Shade (color) xxx

Using a different letter for each group makes the styles searchable in Excel and allows running statistics.
One thing missing is the year of production. Not sure if that's important to track though.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 12:34:22 AM by Bootcat »