Sources tab

Your organization may purchase complete parts from one or more approved vendor sources. The source list is sometimes called an Approved Manufacturer List ("AML") or Approved Vendor List ("AVL").

Source parts are provided by partner organizations, and these partners assign their own part numbers.

You first create the source record with the partner's information in the part's Owner and Number data fields, along with related information such as the purchased part Type and partner's Part name. You can also attach files, such as datasheets or supplier specifications, to the source record. The iteration's Revision allows you to track information changes (such as datasheet or catalog files), while the business Lifecycle tends to be quite static, often simply Approved or Obsolete.

After you've created and saved the source part, you add it as an approved part to the Sources list of your organization's part record.

Although your supply chain partners are your normal part sources, your own organization may also be the source for a specific part. This may occur if you want to consolidate several interchangeable parts with different part numbers under a single preferred number, or if you're switching from one part numbering system to another and want the old parts to be a temporary "source" for the new part numbers.

When you want to revise the list of approved sources, you create a new part record iteration and indicate on the Markup list the existing parts that you want added to the Sources list, as well as items that must be removed.

Markup list

This is the initial set of parts that will be approved for use on the iteration. The Markup list shows parts that have been previously approved for use, as well those parts that are being added or removed as approved sources.

While the current part iteration is pending, a source record's most recent pending or released iteration is displayed.

To create or modify the contents of the Sources list:

  • Add a new source to the list by dragging a part from the Search tab or Previous tab of the Item Explorer, and then dropping it onto the Markup list. Modify the Rank and add Notes as needed.

  • Change the Rank or Notes on an existing item by selecting the source, displaying the context menu, and selecting the Modify Item command. A new row is created, and the notes can be edited.

  • Replace an existing source by dragging an item from the Item Explorer and dropping it onto an existing Markup row. The notes are copied to the replacement row, and can be edited.

  • Remove an existing source by selecting the source, displaying the context menu, and selecting the Remove Item From List command (or pressing your keyboard's Delete key). The row doesn't disappear, but is marked to be removed upon release.

Releasing the part iteration on a change form copies the Markup list (excluding removed components) to the Current list. The current child iteration is permanently shown as the starting point on the Markup tab. No further modifications can be made to the current iteration's Markup list.

Current list

This is the most recent set of parts that are approved for use on the iteration. While a current part iteration remains pending, its Current list of sources remains hidden.

After a part iteration is released, its Current list always shows the latest released iteration of a source item. That is, each time a source item is revised and released, the part's Current list of sources is automatically updated to the new child's iteration.

When a part iteration is canceled, the Current list is "frozen" to show the source part iterations that were valid at the time of cancelation. If a source item is subsequently revised, the canceled part's Current list won't be updated.

Markup and Current data fields

The part's trustee can edit the Markup list while the current iteration remains pending. The part's Markup and Current lists are locked when the current iteration is released or canceled.

Rank
The rank indicates the relative technical preference for approved sources. Source parts with equivalent form, fit and function are assigned the same rank value. The most preferred sources are ranked as 1, while less desirable items may be ranked as 2 or higher.
Item
This identifies the approved source: partner organization, its part number and description.
Notes
You may use this text for any purpose.
The content of this field is indexed, and returns the source item.

Use the sort buttons along the top of each list to temporarily rearrange the sources.

Hints for identifying your supply chain partners

Every purchased part in your warehouse has at least one, and preferably several, approved vendor (that is, manufacturer) sources. Vendor parts are interchangeable with each other when their relevant functional and physical properties are equivalent. Part interchangeability - that is: form, fit, or function equivalence - implies that any approved source can be used for the application.

One of product designers' principal tasks is identifying which items are sourced from outside the company, and then qualifying those sources to ensure that they comply with the design requirements. The qualification activity generally requires a review of the manufacturer's specifications, and possibly characterizing the part's performance within the intended environment. There are several implications:

  1. Part requirements are defined by the home organization.
  2. Part functional and performance specifications are defined by the part's manufacturer.
  3. If the part meets requirements, it's the result of the original manufacturer's engineering and production processes.
  4. If the part fails to meet the published specification, only the manufacturer can address the problem.

Of course, manufacturer's representative, reseller or distributor often facilitates communications between you and the manufacturer. But an agent can't be more than a facilitator: if you have a problem with the part meeting the published spec, the agent may give you a refund but certainly won't review the original design documents, examine the production process, or write a corrective action.

Engineering has qualified the source using the manufacturer's technical data, and identifies it using the manufacturer's — not agent's — name and part number.

From a requirements perspective, engineering is neutral on how the part is obtained. Purchasing chooses the best way to obtain the qualified part, and this choice is affected by the dynamics of business relationships, contracts, schedules, shipping rates, payment terms and (especially) prices. If a new distributor can offer better terms, or quicker delivery, then the decision is within the scope of production rather than design, and no engineering participation is expected.

While it's usually better to avoid formalizing supply chain details within the product definition, designers often have useful knowledge about where parts can be acquired. To communicate this knowledge, designers can add supply chain recommendations to assist their purchasing colleagues. If supply chain details would be helpful, then:

  • Use the source's rank to distinguish your primary (truly qualified) manufacturer part(s) from secondary (indirectly qualified) distributor part(s). For example, you may want to establish a rule that all indirectly-qualified sources are assigned ranks higher than, say, 20. If you include distributors on your sources list, any updates would require bumping the parent part's revision and processing a change form. -OR-
  • Add distributors' part numbers into the manufacturer part record's Notes field or in a set of custom attribute fields based on the Organizations collection. Since these are item-level properties, updates won't require a change form.

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