The industrial supply chain contains millions of component and commodity parts available from thousands of suppliers. While much of the information about these items is available on-line, there is no organized way to compare similar parts from different sources. The various personnel who interact with this supply chain have different informational needs: procurement personnel are interested in parts selection, sourcing, availability, obsolescence, prices, and regulatory compliance; designers need physical and dimensional properties of parts; maintenance personnel require information on repair and replacement procedures, lubrication and testing; and so on. In aggregate, end users impose a wide variety of informational requirements for parts management data.
From a usability perspective:
• Parts management data must be broad and deep in
order to cater to the informational needs of a variety
of end users;
• Query interfaces to this data must be simple and
When these requirements are met, parts management data is able to support all the needs of supply chain logistics and management.
XSB, Inc. has developed PartLink, a linked data platform for component and commodity parts. It will provide effective management of and access to information about component parts, including manufacturers and suppliers, materials, technical characteristics, and other details. This effort was initially undertaken in support of the US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), arguably the largest buyer of industrial component parts in the world. Much of the organizational structure of PartLink is derived from DLA’s Federal Cataloging System (FCS). The FCS defines a multitude of part categories and their important properties and uses this to catalog items of supply. It also creates standard structures for representing suppliers and critical logistics properties used in managing the sourcing, purchasing, and distribution of these items of supply.