Methods and Principles of Codification of Materials

True Tamplin

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
Updated on June 22, 2021

Methods of Codification

Some of the common methods of codification of materials may be enumerated as follows:

1. Alphabetical Codification of Materials

As the name indicates, this method involves the use of letters of alphabets as codes to facilitate easy and quick identification of materials. For example:

Symbole Description
A Raw Materials
B Tools and Gauges
C Spare Parts
D Capital Stores
E General Supplies
F Finished Products

Similarly, alphabets after ‘F’ i.e., ‘G’ to ‘Z’ may be added for the identification of other store items. Alphabetical codification is the most simple method but it lacks flexibility.

2. Mnemonic Codification

It is a modified application of the alphabetical codification and involves the use of the letters of alphabets in such a way as to help memory. This type of codification can be illustrated with the help of the following example:

Code Items of Store
BB Ball Bearing
CS Capital Store
SS Steel Screw
RB Rubber Belt
SW Steel Wire
SB Steel Bolts
WSW Wind Screen Wiper

Mnemonic method is very simple to operate as it helps in memorizing the items of store. But it may create problem if a similar code has been assigned to two different items of store. It also lacks flexibility.

3. Numerical Codification

It is also known as Straight Number Codification. Under this method, numbers are used to represent different items of store. A series of numbers may be allotted to the store items of similar nature. Numerical codification can be illustrated with the help of the following example:

Code No. Description
0 Raw Material
1 Bought out items
2 Gauges
3 Tools
4 Scrap
5 Machinery items
6 Finished Product

Numerical codification of materials is simplest and is widely used by manufacturing concerns on account of its flexibility.

4. Decimal Codification

This is also a numerical system with the difference that instead of full numbers, decimals are used under this method. It is generally used in those concerns where mechanized system of accounting is in use. Under this method, whole numbers are used to indicate the main group or the master group and decimals to indicate the sub-groups. For example:

Items Code
Metals 2.00
Aluminum 2.01
Zinc 2.02
Lead 2.03
Nickel 2.04
Copper 2.05
Steel 2.06
Raw Material 3.00
Rubber 3.01
Plastic 3.02
Paints 3.03
Leather 3.04
Paper 3.05

This method has the advantage of flexibility and unlimited expansion. The use of the decimal points make the number easier to read and remember. But the main disadvantage of this method is that it is bit complicated. It also involves the possibility of misplacement or omission of decimals.

5. Alpha-Numeric Codification

It is also known as Alpheno-serial System or Combined Code System. Under this system, the letters of alphabets are used in conjunction with numbers for the purpose of codification of store items. The broader groups of store items are represented by alphabetical symbols while the detailed groups are represented by number. For example:

Description Code
Plywood 1/4″ I Grade pw 141
Plywood 1/4″ II Grade pw 142
Plywood 1/4″ III Grade pw 143
Plywood 1/2″ I Grade pw 121
Plywood 1/2″ II Grade pw 122

6. Colour Codification

As the name indicates, under this method, colour markings are used to denote code numbers. This method can be applied for codification of metals, cables, small component parts, drums of oil, and various other items. If the colours are not too complicated, this method affords a ready means of identification on sight. For example — in case of metal, colour code can be used as follows:

Green for Iron
Blue for Steel
Red for Copper
Black for Aluminium
White for Zinc

This method is simple but lacks flexibility. With the expansion of store items, it is not possible to expand the number of colours.

Principles of Codification of Materials

The following principles should be kept in mind while assigning code numbers:
1. The code numbers should be easy to understand so that the store-keeping staff may operate them conveniently.
2. There should be no duplication and each code number should relate to only one type of store.
3. The code number should be elastic so that new item of store can be added easily and logically.
4. The code number must identify the material without ambiguity or uncertainty.
5. Code numbers should be brief as large code numbers are subject to errors.
6. Mnemonic codes are both easier to remember and subject to lesser errors.

Advantages of Codification of Materials

The main advantages of the process of codification of materials may be given as follows:
1. Avoidance of Lengthy Description: Codification helps in avoiding the use of lengthy name and description for store items and thus saves time and energy.
2. Accurate Identification of Stores: Codification process assists in the accurate and convenient identification of store items. Easy identification of store items saves time and costs involved in the handling of stores.
3. Convenience in Issue of Materials: Codification of store items on scientific lines helps in eliminating the possibility of errors in the issue of materials. It increases the efficiency of the store-keeping staff.
4. Maintenance of Secrecy: Every manufacturing concern, necessarily, tries to keep its production activities and processes a secret. Codification of store items helps in maintaining secrecy in production activities.
5. Simplification of Stores Accounting: Codification of store items helps in maintaining accurate stores records since scientific codification helps in maintaining stores records mechanically.
6. Prevention of Duplication: Codification prevents duplication of items. As all similar items of store are grouped together and when an item is coded once, it is not given an alternative name.
7. Convenience in Preparation of Material Forms: Codification of store items makes the preparation of various forms and documents relating to stores easy and convenient e.g., Bill of Material, Purchase Requisition, Material Requisition etc.
8. Other Advantages: Codification helps in the standardization of store items and reduction in their variety. It also helps in reducing storage cost and increasing efficiency.

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