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From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter)
Subject: Re: Generating Serial Numbers
Date: Sat, 02 Nov 2002 17:57:31 +0000
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 2 Nov 2002 17:56:40 +0000 (UTC)
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"Geraldo Sazias" wrote
>Maybe slightly OT but here goes:
>I was wondering where companies get their schemes to generate serial numbers
>for their equipment. These are almost always coded to prevent competitors
>from finding out how many products one has produced.
>Are there standards for generatin serial numbers or do companies make these
>up on an ad-hoc basis?
In addition to the huge # of responses you've got so far, one also
needs to consider how the numbers will be printed and what on.
If you can buy blank labels and you have a printer capable of printing
them, and a PC/whatever driving the printer, then you can do what you
want. But that solution is quite expensive - dedicated and sturdy
industrial label printers cost four digits, and guess where you have
to buy the blank labels? The printer manufacturer, or some other
rip-off merchant. I've known many people in the industrial labelling
business, and most make very good money indeed. With 3M having a
monopoly on most good label adhesives, good quality labels are very
expensive. I make small electronic products in 10k+ quantities per
year, and in some cases I spend as much on the outside labels (high
quality reverse printed polycarbonate, up to 6 colours) as I spend on
the injection mouldings.
A cheap solution is to get some cheap program like MyLabel (and there
are many others) and print them on a laser or inkjet. Then you tend to
be limited to simple sequential numbering; also you tend to print a
load in one go and print some more when those got used up. Very
difficult to encode year/week or any other date-related info.
Another tack on this subject is to serialise the product via a code
stored in an EEPROM, or purchase a "solid state serial number" like
the Dallas chips. You need to consider security - how easily can the
customer change the # (to e.g. bring an out of warranty product back
into warranty). It's fun to talk about this stuff - it goes to the
heart of why a stolen mobile phone is so easily reprogrammed to look
like another one. I store my serial #s in an EEPROM and they are also
on an outside label; it's funny that occassionally the two don't match
on a unit which has come back for a "warranty" repair :) Fortunately I
get so few come back it isn't an issue.
But it is something you must consider on expensive items because, here
under UK law anyway, if a customer goes bust without having paid, and
he's been buying your product for a long time beforehand (i.e. the
Liquidator's warehouse is full of your stuff, some paid for and some
not) you cannot retrieve the not-paid-for items unless you can
positively identify them - which means by serial numbers.
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