Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): The Key to Streamlining Your Product Inventory

Brahm Meka
July 28, 2023
10 min
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Identifying Manufacturer Part Number

Step into the bustling arena of manufacturing and supply chain management, where efficient product identification is the key to smooth operations and profitable deals. At the heart of this crucial process sits the unsung hero - the manufacturer part number.

Join us on an engaging journey as we navigate the labyrinth of manufacturer part numbers, dissecting their meaning, their significance, and their universal applications across multiple industries.

We'll shine a spotlight on the pivotal role that MPNs play in inventory management, procurement, and supply chain synchronization. By the time you reach the end, you'll possess a rich understanding of MPNs, equipped with the knowledge of how they can turbocharge your manufacturing and distribution processes.

What is a manufacturer part number?

Imagine a secret code, unique and exclusive, that holds the key to identifying a specific product or component amidst a sea of others. This is what we call a Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) - an exclusive alphanumeric code given by manufacturers for seamless part tracking in inventory management, supply chain operations, and ordering procedures. You can typically spot these identifiers on the product label or even etched directly onto the item itself.

Think of the MPN as a unique fingerprint that sets a particular item apart from the rest in a manufacturer’s product line or inventory. It's a handy tool that ensures your product doesn't get lost in the crowd.

The beauty of an MPN lies in its flexibility. Depending on the manufacturer, its format and length can vary. It could be a series of letters, numbers, or a blend of both. Sometimes, it may even contain additional nuggets of information like version numbers, revisions, or product variants. This code is more than just an identifier; it's a precision tool that ensures accuracy in identifying and sourcing the exact item you need.

Manufacturer part numbers are widely used across industries, including:

  • Manufacturing
  • Electronics
  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Appliances
  • Power tools
  • Plumbing

Manufacturer part numbers help suppliers, distributors, and customers communicate and coordinate effectively for part search, order, or replacement.

How to find your product's MPN?

Most products will have an MPN inscribed directly on them. The exact location of this part number can vary significantly, depending on the product. A meticulous examination of your product should uncover this vital code, typically on the underside or backside of the item.

In some instances, the MPN might not be engraved on the product itself. Instead, it may be documented in the instruction manual or supplementary information notes accompanying the product.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to find a product's MPN:

  1. First, look for the product's packaging. The MPN is often printed on the box, along with other product details.
  2. Next, check the product's user manual. The MPN is typically listed in the product specifications or details section.
  3. If you can't find the MPN on the product's packaging or manual, try looking on the product itself. The MPN is often printed or etched onto the product, especially on electronic or mechanical items.
  4. Still can't find the MPN? Visit the manufacturer's website. You can often find the MPN in the product description or specifications.
Note: The location of the MPN can vary greatly depending on the product and manufacturer. If you're having trouble finding the MPN, contact the manufacturer or the retailer for assistance.

Why are MPNs important?

The Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate and efficient product identification. It helps avoid confusion between similar products, ensures compatibility when ordering replacement parts, and makes it easier to track a product's lifecycle. In short, the MPN is an essential tool in the world of commerce.

Lets take a look at some of the major reasons why they are important:

  1. Product Identification
  2. Mastering Inventory Management
  3. Boosting your Supply Chain
  4. Product Alternatives and Substitutions
  5. Streamlining Warranty and Service Support
  6. Cross-referencing and Compatibility

Let’s cover these in more detail.

Product Identification

Imagine a Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) as a unique fingerprint for each product or component a company makes. In a sea of countless products, this distinctive 'fingerprint' becomes a beacon, guiding you to the exact item you need, eliminating any chance of mix-ups or confusion.

A study found that implementing a standardized part numbering system can reduce the time spent on product identification by up to 50%.

Mastering Inventory Management

Imagine a world where tracking and managing your inventory becomes a breeze. That's exactly what Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs) offer. They're like the secret superheroes of the manufacturing, supplying, and distributing world, assigning each product its unique identifier. This not only simplifies monitoring stock levels but also makes reordering items smoother. And the cherry on top? They're your best bet to avoid the dreaded stockouts and those pesky overstock situations.

In a survey of 500 supply chain professionals, 90% reported that they believe a standardized part numbering system would improve their inventory management processes.

Boosting Your Supply Chain

Think of Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) as a universal language in your supply chain. It's the secret sauce that ensures crystal clear communication and flawless coordination between suppliers and manufacturers. The magic happens when everyone adopts standardized MPNs - it's like a smooth dance that effortlessly exchanges information, places orders, and guarantees the right products waltz their way to the correct locations.

Over 80% of manufacturers believe that implementing a standardized part numbering system would improve their supply chain efficiency.

Product Alternatives and Substitutions

Ever faced a situation where your favorite product is out of reach? Or worse, it's discontinued? Here's where Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs) come to your rescue. They serve as a guiding light, leading you towards suitable alternatives or compatible replacements. With the power of an MPN, you can conquer your product needs, by locating alternatives that perfectly fit your criteria.

Streamlining Warranty and Service Support

Ever wondered about the secret code behind your warranty or service manual? That's the Manufacturer's Part Number (MPN). It plays a vital role in product identification for warranty claims or repairs. Simply put, it's your product's unique identifier, making the repair or replacement process much more efficient and hassle-free.

60% of manufacturers report difficulties in identifying and tracking products without a standardized part numbering system.

Cross-referencing and Compatibility

Manufacturer's Part Numbers (MPNs) serve as a useful tool for cross-referencing and verifying compatibility between products from different manufacturers. This is especially important in industries such as electronics or automotive, where components must function together.

MPNs help to simplify the identification of compatible parts from multiple sources, streamline inventory management, enhance supply chain efficiency, and ultimately contribute to improved customer satisfaction, faster order fulfillment, and smoother manufacturing and distribution processes.

How are MPNs (Manufacturer Part Numbers) used?

Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs) are unique identifiers assigned to products by the manufacturer itself. This number is incredibly useful for a multitude of reasons, some of which we are about to explore:

  1. Smooth Procurement Process — Imagine a world where ordering the exact product you want is a breeze. That's what Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs) offer. They are your secret weapon to ensure you get the right product every single time you place an order with suppliers.
  2. Effortless Inventory Management — Inventory management can feel like a juggling act, but not with MPNs. They keep track of your stock levels, monitor inventory movements, and ensure accurate stock counts. With MPNs, you'll always know what's in stock, what needs topping up, and what might be heading for the exit.
  3. Streamlined Product Catalogs and Databases — MPNs turn product catalogs into a treasure trove of information. They provide a detailed rundown of product specifications, descriptions, and pricing, making it a cinch for customers and suppliers to find and select the right product.
  4. Efficient Cross-Referencing and Substitution — Can't find the original product? No worries! MPNs make it easy to cross-reference products from different manufacturers, helping you find compatible or equivalent alternatives. It's like having your personal product matchmaker.
  5. Hassle-free Warranty and Service Support — When it comes to warranty or service support, MPNs are your ticket to prompt and accurate assistance. By providing the MPN, you help the service provider identify the exact product, paving the way for seamless repair, replacement, or technical support.
  6. Insightful Product Research and Comparison — If you're a customer or an engineer looking to make an informed decision, MPNs are your best friend. They provide a wealth of information for research and comparison, enabling you to select the perfect product for your specific needs.
  7. Effective Supply Chain Management — MPNs are the language of the supply chain. They facilitate communication and coordination and enhance traceability. Whether you're a supplier, distributor, or logistics provider, MPNs help you accurately identify and track products from the manufacturing line to the customer's doorstep.
Note: While MPNs are incredibly useful, it's important to remember that not all manufacturers use MPNs, and even those that do may not use them consistently across all their products.

Typical Uses of MPNs in Different Sectors

The Automotive Industry

Within the automotive industry, tracking parts from a multitude of manufacturers can be a Herculean task. As such, MPNs are invaluable for keeping a clear inventory of parts and ensuring the correct components are used during repairs and manufacturing.

The Electronics Industry

In the electronics industry, MPNs are crucial for keeping track of the thousands of different components that make up electronic devices, from small resistors to complex microchips. Without MPNs, identifying the correct parts for repairs or production would be nearly impossible.

The Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry relies heavily on the use of MPNs. With safety being paramount, ensuring the correct parts are used during aircraft manufacture, maintenance, and repairs is non-negotiable. MPNs provide a foolproof system of part identification that minimizes the risk of human error.

The Retail Industry

In retail, MPNs are often used to manage vast amounts of stock, from clothing to household goods. Retailers use MPNs to ensure accurate inventory control, order fulfillment, and in some cases, price control.

The Pharmaceuticals Industry

MPNs are also used widely in the pharmaceutical industry. They help to differentiate between similarly named drugs and ensure that patients receive the correct medication. Not only that, but MPNs are also vital for tracking batches of medication for quality control and recall purposes.

We're about to dive into the exciting world of alternatives to MPNs.

What are the alternatives for MPNs?

Just like Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs), there are several other types of product identification numbers employed by different entities in the supply chain. These alternatives ensure efficient tracking and identification of products. Let's dive in and explore some of them:

1. Universal Product Codes (UPCs)

A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a 12-digit number that uniquely identifies products. It's primarily used in the retail industry for tracking products in stores. It's represented by a barcode that can be scanned at the point of sale to pull up the price and other product details.

2. European Article Numbers (EANs)

The European Article Number (EAN) is a barcode-based system used in Europe, Japan, and a few other countries. It's similar to the UPC but typically contains 13 or 8 digits.

3. Stock Keeping Units (SKUs)

Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) are alphanumeric codes that uniquely identify each product within a retailer's inventory. They are often used in conjunction with UPCs or EANs but are more customizable, as retailers can create their own SKUs based on their own systems.

4. International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) are unique numeric book identifiers. They're used by publishers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and retailers when ordering, listing, and stock control for books.

5. Serial numbers

Consider serial numbers as unique fingerprints given to distinct product units during the process of manufacturing. They serve as an invaluable tool for industries such as electronics, appliances, and automotive, where serial number tracking takes center stage.

Serial numbers are instrumental in enabling product warranties, facilitating services, and managing recalls effectively.

Just as a unique signature, serial numbers offer a one-of-a-kind identifier for each item. This uniqueness empowers both manufacturers and customers to follow the product's journey, making it possible to trace its history and identify specific units.

6. Industry-specific Codes

Certain industries take product identification a step further with their own exclusive coding systems. Take the defense industry for instance - they use National Stock Numbers (NSNs) for meticulous tracking of military equipment and supplies. Or consider the healthcare and medical device industry, where Unique Device Identifiers (UDIs) serve as the distinct identification markers for medical devices.

7. Custom part numbers

Manufacturers or suppliers sometimes use unique internal part numbers to identify products, which may not be standard across the industry. Despite lacking universal recognition, these numbers ensure unique identification within the company.

MPNs are common and accepted in many industries because of their standardization and compatibility. However, some contexts or industries may use different identification systems to fulfill their specific needs.

Remember, the choice of product identification depends on the nature of your business, the specific requirements of your supply chain, and your target market. These numbers serve as the language of goods, making communication and transactions between different entities in the supply chain possible and efficient.

Step up your inventory tracking with Brahmin Solutions

Imagine a solution that's designed to make your manufacturing and inventory management a breeze. That's exactly what Brahmin Solutions brings to the table. It's a robust cloud-based software that's tailored for small and medium-sized businesses, aiming to streamline your operations.

One of its most powerful features? Real-time inventory tracking. This gives businesses a crystal clear view of their stock levels at all times. The result? You can monitor inventory, track materials and finished goods, and make smarter decisions about purchasing and production.

With these real-time insights, you can say goodbye to stockouts, optimize your reorder points, and ensure your customers always get their orders on time.

But that's not all. Brahmin Solutions also supports batch and serial numbers for even more detailed tracking.

With batch tracking, businesses can oversee groups of products or components that are manufactured or received together. This is a game changer for industries like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, where quality control and traceability are key.

Serial number tracking, on the other hand, lets businesses identify specific items. It's a real boon for businesses in the electronics and automotive industries.

And the cherry on top? Brahmin Solutions offers seamless integrations with a variety of business tools, like QuickBooks Online and Shopify. This means smoother data flow, streamlined operations, and no more manual data entry or risk of errors.

By integrating with other software solutions, Brahmin Solutions lets businesses centralize their data, automate processes, and boost efficiency.

Ready to see it in action? Book a demo and discover how your business can reap the benefits.

Brahm Meka
Founder & CEO

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