Parts Catalogue: Smart Solutions

- Andre Streefkerk

While many organizations create parts catalogues to serve their customers or their own service organization, very often it is a cumbersome process. Being responsible for the product documentation, technical writers are tasked to deliver them, without adequate access to the source data. Additionally, there is a growing demand to make those catalogues easily available online, as selling spare parts is a lucrative business.

The question is how to do that easily and efficiently, even without getting the source data like CAD-files and useful bill of materials (BOM) data. This is where SpareParts.One (SPO) comes in. Born from a necessity and developed by a team that has been responsible for delivering the full suite of technical documentation at many machine and equipment suppliers for many years.

What does SpareParts.One do?

There are two parts to that question: how to create the catalogue and how to make it available to users.

To create the parts catalogue, you dump the exploded views (and/or other drawings) and their associated bills of materials into the application and SPO automatically builds the catalogue for you. An interactive eCatalog that is, and if needed a ‘traditional’ PDF-version as well. It sounds too simple to be true, but basically this is what happens. From experience, we know that neither drawings nor BOM data are perfect, so SPO allows you to intervene and correct.

Now you have a nice eCatalog, ready to show the world. But how? The PDF can be sent anywhere, however, to exploit the power of an eCatalog, you can just simply upload the eCatalog to your website assuming it will interact. Typically, you would like users to search and find a part, select and order it, right? This requires a connection to the ‘logistic’ systems, an area where the tech. writer is kept far away from. IT is responsible for building those integrations which always seem to be so complex and expensive, that it doesn’t get done (in time).

Our goal from the start was to remove that complexity and make it as simple as adding Google Analytics to a website. Not only that, it should also be independent of the technology used underneath. It shouldn’t matter what Web shop-technology the company is using, or what kind of logistic system feeds to data. Our new Layer-technology was born!

The result

A fully responsive eCatalog on top of your website, web shop or service application, that will show up perfectly on any device. Customers can directly order without the need to call first, service engineers can identify the correct part immediately on their phone while working in the field. No more dragging around paper, no more retyping codes, no more wrong deliveries!

For the technical documentation team building parts catalogues becomes a pleasure in only a fraction of the time it would take otherwise. And the benefits of an eCatalog to the company are so crystal clear, that tech. writers will finally get the recognition they deserve.


About the Author

André Streefkerk, is the Product Manager at Spareparts.One. Together with an international team of developers and service engineers, his team created a software product that has helped to digitize a very large number of catalogues for their customers world-wide. This experience provides him the ability to provide the best advice there is in the field.