Codification and standardization

Due to the growth of industrial activity and diverse kind of industrial requirements, a large no. of organizations have to store a large number of items, often running into several thousands and even lacks. Therefore, there should be some means of identifying them. A common practice is to describe the items by individuals’ names. Since several departments use the same item, they call the same item by different names and store them in different places. One of the most useful techniques of “Materials Management’’ is a rationalized codification system for properly classifying equipments, raw materials, components and spares to suit to the particular needs of any organization.


An article of stores is identified by its simple description or nomenclature. Difficulty arises when the same article is known by different names. For example, chipping goggles, grinder goggles, or white goggles are one item but may be stored separately under same nomenclature as different items. One storekeeper might classify an item as Sal Ammoniac, whereas a research chemist might identify it under the name of Ammonium Chloride, only to be told that it is not available.

Codification Systems

One of the prerequisites of classification and codification is to know the basic nature and characteristics of all materials used in an enterprise and then classify them in broad categories and then to group and sub-group them in logical progression of kinds, type and sizes etc. As for example, Raw materials, Semi-processed Materials, Mechanical (Products and equipment), Electrical (products and equipments), Chemicals (Allied products and chemical processing equipment), Laboratory and office (equipment and supplies) etc. can be classified, grouped and sub-grouped first.

Therefore, codification is a process of representing each item by a number, the digits of which indicate the group, the subgroup, the type and the dimension of item. The first two digits normally represent the major groups, such as raw tools, oil stationery, etc. The next two digits indicate the sub-groups, such as ferrous, non-ferrous, etc.

The need for Codification arises because of the following reasons:

(i) Speed,

(ii) Unambiguity,

(iii) Saving of Effort,

(iv) Space Saving on forms,

(v) Ease of classification,

(vi) Mechanization.

Characteristics of Codes

As far as possible uniform dimension say, the metric system should be adopted.

(i) Code should be Simple.

(ii) Code should be unique.

(iii) Coding should be compact, concise and consistent.

(iv) Code should be sufficiently flexible to meet future demands.


Mass production techniques of industrial production are based on the principle of uniformity and interchange ability of many parts, components and material used in the production process. Standard products can be manufactured on a mass scale and their production cost can be kept minimum. Standardization leads to cheaper and easier procurement and cost of replacement can also be reduced.

In the field of stores and material management, standardization enables industry to proceed on scientific lines to locate factors influencing preparation of inventory control programmes, for achieving economy of materials and parts, avoiding wastages, disposal of unwanted stores and reduction in stock. Again through standardization and variety reduction, rationalized codification becomes easier. The role of standardization and variety reduction in inventory simplification has therefore real significance in industrial materials management field.

In our country Indian Standards Institution (ISI), now known as the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), is the national body which deals with standardization at national level. There are various committees dealing with different industries who formulate national standards.

BIS in collaboration with NTH (National Test House) and with the help of their control laboratories they issue the ISI certification mark, which is a third party and is accepted nationally as a proof of standard quality. Some of the international standards are British Standard (BS), American Standards Association (ASA) or the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). However, all the industrially advanced countries in the world have their own national standards. International Standards Organization (ISO) with its HQ at Geneva, issues international specifications. India being a member of ISO is a general acceptance as to be desirability of standardization, there is no possibility of complete standardization.

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