Partslink® Numbering System
A Universal Numbering System For The Identification Of Aftermarket Collision Replacement Parts
The premise behind the Partslink® numbering system was that manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of independently produced replacement parts needed a system for identifying these collision parts and in common terminology. Estimating systems such as ADP (now Audatex), Mitchell and CCC were having a difficult time in dealing with the massive amount of parts data being poured into their systems by all so many suppliers and no two being alike. Not only was this causing unnecessary expense to translate the data to an OEM number, the lack of accuracy coupled to late reporting meant that the insurance industry clients to these services were not being given timely and accurate information on alternative parts availability.
In 1993, during ADP’s Client Conference in Florida, the idea for Partslink® was born when a meeting took place between distributor members of the Automotive Body Parts Association and staff members of the ADP/Claims Solution Group. It was agreed that whatever system evolved to help solve this problem would be co-owned by the two entities.
In the meantime, ADP/CSG had access to a program conceived by Dick Elg, a partner in a small data company called Data Derivatives. The Elg program had as its objective the categorizing of independently produced crash parts to their respective OE counterparts. Data Derivatives was retained by ADP/CSG and during a process which took nearly three years to complete at a developmental cost of more than $1.5 million, Partslink® was born.
The foundation of the system is in providing a unique, universal part number for each independently reproduced replacement part as supplied by all aftermarket manufacturers/suppliers. Each Partslink® number directly tracks to a similar OE application and will continue to track to that application whether or not the OE original number is superseded. Thus, the system permits manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, information providers, insurers and repair facilities with the tools to identify and track aftermarket parts with the same degree of accuracy found in the OEM sector and, most importantly, to continually track OE supersessions, literally within days of any number change.
In the U.S., manufacturers and suppliers subscribe to the system to have access to the data which is now directly supported by telemark software® which has been retained specifically to administer the technological side of this program. The fee for an ABPA member is $250.00 per month for one location and $325.00 per month for multiple locations regardless of how many. Non-members may also subscribe but they pay an additional $75.00 per month above these fees. If they have a need for a selected set of data which does not encompass the entire 80,000 plus SKUs, a reduced price may be set in negotiation with the program administrator. Call for details.
Information on changes is updated daily and distributed at least monthly. The entire system, now totally owned by the Automotive Body Parts Association for the past 10 years, is on line so that subscribers have 24/7 access to the information and enter through a security gate on the Association¹s website: www.autobpa.com. There is another site specifically set up for the subscribers: www.partslink.org
The following outlines some of the major features of Partslink®:
- Assigning a Partslink® number to a specific replacement part allows all manufacturers, distributors and information providers to identify parts from various suppliers as being interchangeable with each other and the OEM’s part. Thus, for example, MC1240101 would stand for a 2002-2008 Mini Cooper LEFT front fender, while FO1230255 would designate a 2003-2004 Ford Mustang Mach I hood panel assembly. The same numbers would be applied to parts produced by all manufacturers.
- With a universal number applied to each part available in the aftermarket, cross-referencing to the OEM part number is facilitated and OEM supersession tracking is made possible. As most electronic estimating providers seek aftermarket parts by searching for a part number that matches the OEM listing in their database, the constantly updated Partslink® data provides manufacturers and suppliers a means to provide the correct number. Also, the Partslink® system has the ability to cope with colour variations and editorial OEM number choices by providing multiple cross-reference numbers. Another benefit is that current OEM pricing can be supplied, allowing suppliers to adjust their prices to reflect market conditions.
- Certification, Approved Parts and other status is provided with the use of a field appended to the basic Partslink® number. In the U.S., we are currently using “C” for CAPA, and other designations if the manufacturer’s part qualifies for any other program. Also, we reference recycled parts with an “R”. This way, a supplier could inventory different classes of the same Partslink® numbered part and have the ability to distinguish this status in their submissions to the estimating provider.
- Partslink® also supports bar coding through the use of fixed-length data and standardised coding. In addition to the status field, we also append a field with the aftermarket part manufacturer’s code (three letters selected by the manufacturer) and a five-character “lot number” field to indicate which run the part came from. This gives us a bar code 18 characters in length which in Code 3 of 9 results in an estimated read error rate of less than 1 in 500,000. Since the bar code is affixed to the packaging by the manufacturer, it can be used by all distribution and user levels.
- Trace ability and verification of specified parts is provided to insurers, body shops and consumers through the incorporation of the Partslink® bar-coded information into the supplier’s records. In the event of a dispute or recall regarding aftermarket parts, an audit trail can be created which will assure that the correct parts were used in the repair.
- By having a centralised provider maintain the Partslink® data, each sector of the industry benefits financially as they no longer have to employ an in-house data research service. We have found that this frees up valuable employees for profitable activities. Also, the communication between manufacturers, distributors and estimating providers is enhanced.
- Partslink® is designed to support web-based, real-time estimating. A VPN can link estimating providers directly to multiple suppliers’ inventories. Instead of the current system of each supplier having to provide OEM# information periodically, those with online capabilities can offer their parts through a network maintained by Partslink®, while those who are not currently online have the option of submitting the Partslink® number in place of the OEM# and matches will be made through the Partslink® cross-reference data provided online to the estimating provider.
- The provider of the Partslink® information also has the ability to offer marketing data to the industry. Reports such as usage numbers, lost sales from lack of product and market penetration can be provided, generating another revenue center.
During the 20 years that Partslink® has been in use in the U.S., and particularly since ownership has passed to the Automotive Body Parts Association, great advancements have been achieved regarding the accuracy and ease with which aftermarket parts are integrated into the collision repair process. Even after a couple of major insurers left the market, most manufacturers and distributors report rising sales and profits.
The system is maintained by telemark software® in La Jolla, California. For more information on the program, contact ABPA at 800-323-5832.
All of the forms for membership and Partslink® can be downloaded from our forms page.
You can send in the form for membership as an Associate at $200.00 annual, plus the $25.00 establishing fee. The $225.00 will cover the first 12 months. A full membership is $500.00 annually. You can join as a full member by paying the first half year’s dues (250.00) plus the $24.00 or $275.00.
As a member, your Partslink® subscription fee is $250.00 per month. It is billed to a credit card or via electronic check once each month. Or, if you want to prepay the fees, there are discounts available. 5% for six month prepayment; 10 percent for annual prepayment. If you do not join the Association, you can still subscribe to Partslink® although the fee goes up by $900.00 annually ($75.00 per month more than a member). So, it makes sense to join the Association and get the benefit of the less expensive fee.
The forms for the contract and the payment are also on the website. All contracts can be either faxed or e-mailed to me at email@example.com. The fax number is (401)949-0912. When we receive your paperwork, we initiate the account.
If you have any questions, please send them to me via e-mail.