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Does changing the traceability of a part require a new part number?

I recently was asked if changing the level of traceability of a part requires a new Part number. So going from a Part that is not serialized to a serialized part. 

Let’s break this down using Form, Fit and Function:


Serial numbers require a label or marking or an RFID label on the part. It can be that you have a generic label for non-serialized and serialized parts. Hence it does not require a change to the form because you already have the label. It just will contain a bit more information. If, however you need a different label, it requires a change to the Bill of Material, and it needs to be positioned on the part.

Conclusion: there might be an impact to the form depending on the actual situation


Adding a label or marking does not typically impact the fit. There might be places where you cannot put a label, but in most cases you will find a spot where you can apply the label/marking.

Conclusion: fit is not likely to be impacted


If the part was not serial traceable before and now it becomes serial-traceable, it means you have changed a function. The part with serial number allows for each produced unit to be traceable throughout its life. When you only have a part number, you cannot track or trace each unit. Although this might not be obvious, the level of traceability is a requirement of a part. If you change it, you impact the function, maybe not its primary function in the context of the product. Still, a function in the context of maintainability, serviceability, and upgrade throughout the unit’s life and the ability to manage recalls more effectively.

Conclusion: changing the level of traceability impacts the function

Overall conclusion

Changing the traceability of a part when it has already been ordered requires a new part number to be able to separate traceable from non-traceable units. If the part is still in design and has not been ordered, you can continue with the same part number.

If you want to learn more about re-identification and traceability, check out the following articles:

Header photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Does changing the traceability of a part require a new part number?”

  1. Consider when an individual part is transferred to a new owner and the new owner has their own numbering/identification system. So the part gets another Id but no change whatsoever in form, fit or function. Then look back and consider whether starting to number individual parts really is a change to the part or simply a stage in the life cycle of each part, I.e. now it has an identifier and the identifier has a organisational context. In the PLCS standard (ISO 10303-239) we allowed for both designs and individuals to have multiple identifiers over time with varying effectively. If you consider the life cycle of military kit (for example) this is quite common requirement.

    1. Thanks for your comment Nigel. You make a good point. There are indeed reasons for re-identifying the part while FFF stays the same. The use case I based the post on was a change of traceability requirements. In practice the part was already produced and even used in products.

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