FAQ

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Contents

[edit] General

[edit] What is eCl@ss?

eCl@ss is the international standard for unified and consistent classification of products, materials and services along the entire supply chain. In addition to providing the option of describing each individual product in a unique way, eCl@ss is also implemented as a product-grouping, company-internal organizing system with the features of a commodity code. eCl@ss e.V. is the organization that defines, develops and distributes this standard internationally across industries.

[edit] Which benefits does eCl@ss offer?

eCl@ss...

  • is based on national and international standards.
  • covers all products, materials (direct, indirect) and services.
  • combines requirements of trade and development.
  • contains sets of properties for material groups.
  • offers a keyword search (instead of navigation through complex structures) to make the search for the correct material group much easier especially for occasional users.
  • can be implemented in eCommerce as well as with material- and facility management and in product information systems.
  • can be downloaded in several languages on http://www.eclassdownload.com.
  • is supported by a wide, industrial base in Germany and Europe.
  • is supported internationally – with the help of regional partners in Europe, the USA and Asia eCl@ss will be increasingly used internationally in the future.
  • is already employed by many international enterprises and their suppliers in Germany and Europe.

[edit] Why does it make sense to classify using eCl@ss?

Manufacturers and suppliers that provide products and services classified according to eCl@ss, can reach all existing and potential customers around the world - even without knowledge of foreign languages - by classifying their offering only once. You not only speak the same system language, eCl@ss ensures proper translations. Purchasers or consumers can clearly and quickly identify and order all products and services with the eCl@ss codes using product databases, merchandise information systems or electronic catalogues. Please also have a look at an overview of typical use cases.

[edit] In which business areas/processes can eCl@ss be implemented?

eCl@ss can be implemented in all business areas/processes. The eCl@ss system accompanies your products and services along the entire supply chain, from development to disposal. Please also have a look at an overview of typical use cases.

[edit] Is eCl@ss suitable for electronic data exchange?

Yes, the standardized data structure provides the ideal foundation for electronic data exchange without system failures. Please also have a look at an overview of typical use cases.

[edit] Who finances eCl@ss?

eCl@ss is financed by the contributions of the members of eCl@ss e.V., project activities and business models with cooperation partners. Therefore, members of eCl@ss e.V. enjoy especially interesting advantages.

[edit] What advantages does eCl@ss provide over UNSPSC?

At first glance, the classification systems eCl@ss and UNSPSC seem to have many similarities. These systems are actually structured in a similar way. Both provide a 4-tier classification hierarchy.

UNSPSC was originally developed for statistical evaluation purposes such as e.g. spent analysis. The focus was not on identification of individual materials and therefore UNSPSC does not have any sets of properties and does not plan to include any. A detailed comparison of eCl@ss, UNSPSC, GPC and the CPV is to be found in the CEN-Project CC3P.

The development of the eCl@ss system was based on several different requirements. It was intended to be a standardized classification system which could not only be used to perform statistical evaluations, but also to seek, find and describe products in a targeted manner. For this reason, standard sets of properties are assigned to commodity classes (on the 4th level of the classification structure). The properties are used to described the classified products. Keywords represent a special advantage compared to other classification system such as the UNSPSC. They enable even the inexperienced user to quickly find the right class for a specific product.

Generally, all classification systems have their use cases. Therefore, the choice for the one or the other system depends on the users' requirements. eCl@ss is generally suitable for all use cases along the supply chain.

[edit] What purpose do the sets of properties serve?

Sets of properties serve for unified and comparative description of products. The properties within a set of properties are unique and therefore allow for targeted search. eCl@ss is the only classification system worldwide which uses DIN/[ISO] standardized properties. Product descriptions according to eCl@ss therefore also meet standards requirements.

[edit] Does eCl@ss provide product descriptions?

No, the product manufacturers or suppliers provide the product descriptions. However, eCl@ss provides the description structures required for this.


[edit] Application

[edit] How do I provide data in conformance with eCl@ss?

If your partner requests that you provide data in conformance with eCl@ss, then they require proper allocation of products to the classes of the 4th level of the eCl@ss classification system with indication of the eCl@ss version. If material descriptions are to be provided in conformance with eCl@ss, then entries have to be made in the property fields required in each case. However, in most cases it is not necessary to evaluate all properties, but only those required by the order.

[edit] How do I find the correct class in eCl@ss?

eCl@ss e.V. provides several options of [searching http://www.eclasscontent.com] in eCl@ss on its [web site http://www.eclass.eu]. The searches by class, property and value names or keywords can be especially helpful to new users or those who only use the service periodically. eCl@ss returns all classes, properties or values containing the search term. Those who make regular use of the service have the option of researching within the eCl@ss structure using hierarchical class searches. Use of this function requires certain knowledge of the class structures and the contents of these structures.

[edit] What should I do if I cannot allocate my product?

If you are not able to find precise class allocation for the sought product at the fourth level, then you should allocate it to an appropriate group or main group. Classes with the class code 90("unspecified") at the end are allocated to each group and each main group at the fourth level. You can allocate products to these classes, for which the group or main group is appropriate but for which no more precise allocation is possible. In case something is missing from your point of view, you may always request missing content on the [eCl@ss ContentDevelopmentPlatform http://www.eclass-cdp.com].

[edit] What is the difference between a group "parts" (xx-xx-xx-91) and a group "accessories (xx-xx-xx-92)?

eCl@ss knows various descriptive codes: the groups xx-xx-xx-91 "parts" and xx-xx-xx-92 "accessories". The difference between parts and accessories in the allocation of products is defined in eCl@ss as follows:

  • “parts” are objects which are of spare part nature
  • “accessories” are objects which extend the possibilities of a machine or apparatus, i.e. they are rated as “Add-ons”. The most important distinction against the “part”-group is that the machine, apparatus is able to carry out its intended operation even without these objects.

[edit] Is there a software which enables automatic classification of products?

Fully automated classification is not possible. Tools to simplify classification are available. Our cooperation partners provide various tools for this purpose.

[edit] How is a value list used?

Starting with eCl@ss release 7.0, eCl@ss distinguishes between value lists that are restricted and value templates that are suggested. The value list is a restrictive, i.e. closed list of valid values for a property. That means that these and no other values are valid specifications of a property.

The value template is a compilation of the most often used specifications (values) of a property. It can, but does not have to be complete. The required value is selected from the template. If the required specification is not found in the value template, then it can be entered manually. Use of the value lists and value templates ensures unified notation of the entries, which simplifies and accelerates subsequent searches in the database. In addition to this, it is possible to use the value identifiers upon transferring data so as not to be hindered by language differences.

[edit] Which properties do value lists have?

Value lists are most commonly used for alpha-numeric properties (data type: STRING). The respective eCl@ss expert group decides for which properties value lists should be created for.

[edit] Is it possible to create private classes in eCl@ss?

eCl@ss has reserved the whole segments 98-00-00-00 and 99-00-00-00 for the creation of individual (proprietary) classes. Each user can develop and use these segments for his or her own purposes, but the formal and technical rules laid forth by eCl@ss should be adhered to in all cases.


[edit] Data model

[edit] How many levels does eCl@ss consist of?

eCl@ss is a 4-level classification model. The first level is called a "segment", the second is a "main group", the third is a "group" and the fourth level is a "commodity class". The sets of properties are allocated to the fourth level (commodity class).

[edit] Can the products also be classified at the third level?

The eCl@ss data model is designed in such a way that products and services are classified at the commodity group level (level 4) as only these classes can be described with the help of properties. Data exchange with the eCl@ss classifiction system should only be done if all products and services are classified at level 4. Nonetheless, eCl@ss does not restrict this and can only advise to assign products only to product classes, i.e. commodities on the 4th level.

[edit] Do all properties in a set of properties have to be used?

The use of individual properties of an eCl@ss set of properties depends on the product specifications to be described and the processes in which the sets of properties are to be used. Therefore the use of eCl@ss properties is optional from the association's point of view. eCl@ss does not define mandatory properties. Your decision as to which properties to use from a set of properties depends on your own requirements as well as the needs of your customers and suppliers.


[edit] Download

[edit] Where can I obtain the current version of eCl@ss?

All available eCl@ss versions can be downloaded in the DownloadPortal.

[edit] How is my personal registration data used?

The personal data is used only for internal purposes and serves to demonstrate that the user is a registered eCl@ss user.

[edit] In which formats is download data available?

Starting with release 7.0 eCl@ss is being published in an XML and a CSV format. See Category:Products.

[edit] What do the various download files include?

See Category:Products for a description of the files and the readme files delivered with the files. The relations are shown here.

[edit] Is it possible to download older releases?

Yes, you can download all releases in all available language versions starting with release 4.1 in the DownloadPortal.


[edit] Costs

[edit] How much does it cost to download eCl@ss?

By paying a download fee, all users of eCl@ss make a contribution towards the further development of eCl@ss according to the requirements of the industry and towards an acceleration of its national and international distribution and standardisation. Please have a look at the eCl@ss price list or on the eCl@ss DownloadPortal.

[edit] How much does it cost to use eCl@ss?

eCl@ss grants the user usage rights to use the eCl@ss file under the name eCl@ss as defined by the General Conditions of Use.

[edit] How much does the membership in eCl@ss e.V. cost?

There are various different membership fees depending on the form of membership: Supporting membership: € 1,500.00 p.a. - there is no admission fee. Ordinary membership: € 5,000 p.a. - there is a one-time admission fee of € 1,000. Ordinary membership with seat on the Steering Committee: € 15,000.00 p.a. - there is a one-time admission fee of € 2,000.00

These fees correspond to attractive benefits.

For more information please go to the eCl@ss website and have a look at the application documents that include the benefits.

[edit] Classification

[edit] What do I need to be aware of if I want to use the eCl@ss classification system for my products?

Detailed guidance relating to eCl@ss classification is being provided by the IT Service Providers and cooperation partners.

[edit] Why is it a good idea to use eCl@ss for classification?

Manufacturers and suppliers that have their products and services available according to the eCl@ss classification can, with a single one-off effort, make their product range obtainable to all their current and future customers world-wide, even without any foreign language knowledge. You speak the same technical and systematic language and eCl@ss provides the correct professional translations. Buyers or consumers can quickly, clearly and reliably identify and sort products and services in product databases, inventory control systems or from electronic catalogs by using the eCl@ss identification number.

[edit] Who can help me with the classification process?

The eCl@ss head office offers an introductory consultation, user-workshops as well as online presentations (see also our German Webinars), which allow you to take part online.

[edit] What software/services exist that provide support for the classification of my products with eCl@ss?

The eCl@ss cooperation partners offer a range of software and services that could be helpful for the classification of your products such as e.g. SAP integration, catalogue tools, classification viewers and conversion, classification and automatic property capture.

[edit] Are there any practical examples that I can use as an orientation for my company?

There are examples of small and medium-sized enterprises that have successfully introduced eCl@ss in the Best Practice section of this wiki.

[edit] Who can help me?

eCl@ss cooperates with a number of competent cooperation partners whose services are available to all eCl@ss users. For the German speaking community, hundreds of service providers that can support small and medium-sized enterprises with the introduction of eBusiness can be found in the PROZEUS service provider database.

[edit] I cannot find an appropriate eCl@ss class to assign my product to. What can I do?

In this case you may want to request the missing content and use the eCl@ss ContentDevelopmentPlatform. It offers the possibility to:

  • request changes and/or additions online and free of charge,
  • check the status of changes and/or additions requested at any time,
  • discuss this online together with the eCl@ss-expert groups.

[edit] Internationality

[edit] In which languages eCl@ss is available?

eCl@ss is available in several languages as complete versions and other part translations. Each release will always be completely available in English (pivot language) and German (main language). Other translations include French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Czech. Further versions only comprising classes (and partly keywords) are: Turkish, Dutch, Thai, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, traditional Chinese (Taiwan), Russian, Japanese. Language versions are being added on an ongoing basis. eCl@ss ensures ongoing maintenance and high quality of the translations.

See also Products: Language Versions and the eCl@ss DownloadPortal.

[edit] Does eCl@ss e.V. have offices in other countries?

In addition to the head office in Cologne, Germany, eCl@ss also has offices in other countries, please see here:

- International eCl@ss offices

[edit] Are all eCl@ss releases available in English?

Yes, all eCl@ss releases are available in English. Starting with version 4.1, you can download these in the DownloadPortal.

[edit] In which countries is eCl@ss being used?

eCl@ss is already being implemented worldwide. Current download statistics show downloads from 80 countries. Downloads are primarily performed from Europe, North America and Asia.

[edit] Which internationally active companies are using eCl@ss?

eCl@ss is used by companies representing a wide range of business areas. Representative of various sectors, please have a look at the long list of our international member companies.

[edit] Are mapping tables to other classification systems available?

Mapping tables to other classification systems are not available from eCl@ss directly. However a mapping exists from eCl@ss 6.0.1 to the UNSPSC v11, the GPC 30092011 and the CPV 2008 which was created within a CEN project (European Committee for Standardization). The result of the cMap project are linked on the CEN wiki page.

Other mappings have been produced or can be provided by certain eCl@ss IT ServiceProviders, please see their portfolio pages for further information.

Please also see Release Update File for mappings between different eCl@ss versions.

Contact the eCl@ss office for help on this subject.

[edit] Quality Management

[edit] How is the quality of classes and sets of properties ensured?

Several committees inspect each change request for correctness with regards to form and content to ensure the high quality of eCl@ss. Each change request has to meet formal criteria which are inspected upon receipt by the eCl@ss office. The required foundation is developed by the Center for Research and Development. The head office forwards the change request to the responsible expert group. The content is inspected with regard to correctness and conformity to the underlying standards (e.g. ISO 13584, IEC 61360, DIN 4002,... ). Requested properties are compared to those in the DIN property server and applications are made for new properties if necessary. The final inspection is done by the Center for Quality Control checking each request with regards to eCl@ss conformity.

[edit] How are the expert groups organized?

An expert group consists of specialists in a single topic area. Among them are manufacturers, retailers and buyers. Normally the area is defined as an eCl@ss specialist area. The expert group is headed by an expert group leader. This person has to be an ordinary member of eCl@ss e.V.

[edit] Which tasks is the expert group responsible for?

The main task for an expert group consists of evaluating submitted change requests. It decides which changes are integrated in eCl@ss. The expert group focuses on its particular topic area. The requirements of the classification and the sets of properties are processed within the expert group. Change requests can be derived within the expert group. Final release of the changes is carried out by the Center for Quality Control. It inspects the completed change requests as regards content and conformity with the rest of the system.

[edit] To which topics are there expert groups?

There are usually expert groups for all segments already included in eCl@ss.

[edit] Does eCl@ss have a solid future as a standard?

eCl@ss is well equipped for the future due to its data model, which is derived from DIN 4002 and ISO 13584, and the use of standardized properties.

[edit] Service

[edit] Who can I contact with questions pertaining to eCl@ss?

You can direct questions about all eCl@ss related topics to the service desk by sending an e-mail message to the eCl@ss office.

[edit] How can I find a service provider who can help me to integrate eCl@ss?

eCl@ss has co-operative agreements with several companies. These partners can provide you with competent help. You can contact these companies via the service desk or directly via our web site at www.eclass.eu. To do this, either select the required service from the "Services" section of our website or refer to the "Organization" section for an overview of our co-operation partners.

[edit] How can I obtain up to date information about current eCl@ss developments?

eCl@ss sends out a newsletter on a regular basis to inform you of changes and enhancements as well as important events. To receive the newsletter, you have to enter your address in the mailing list for the newsletter subscription.

[edit] Where can I obtain more information about eCl@ss?

All information is available free of charge in electronic form under the heading "Information download" at www.eclass.eu. You will not only find general information pertaining to eCl@ss here, but also current newsletters and presentations.

[edit] Is there eCl@ss software that I can install to use eCl@ss offline?

Yes, if you want to use all of the advantages of eCl@ss classification quickly and easily offline, the eCl@ss co-operation partner e-pro Solutions GmbH provides helpful tools. These tools are available to members of eCl@ss e.V. at discounted rates.

[edit] Where can I obtain support in implementing eCl@ss in SAP?

Together with the official eCl@ss co-operation partner BASF IT Services GmbH, eCl@ss e.V. provides an SAP Competence Center to eCl@ss association members and all other interested parties. This competence center provides consultation and support services for implementing eCl@ss in SAP. Please see the "Services" section for more information.

[edit] Standards

[edit] Are the data structures based on standards?

Yes, the data model of the eCl@ss classification system is based, among other things, on the structures of the standards DIN 4002, IEC 61360 and ISO 13584.

[edit] Are the eCl@ss properties standardized?

Starting with eCl@ss version 5.1, all properties were restructured in accordance with DIN 4002 to allow for their inclusion in the DIN property server. This provides eCl@ss users and software manufacturers increased planning reliability in the integration and use of eCl@ss.

[edit] Which classification standards are/will be harmonized with eCl@ss or rather integrated in eCl@ss?

eCl@ss has been relying on a long-time cooperation with other important existing branch standards. Among them have been in recent years

  • ETIM (International electrical engineering)
  • proficl@ss (German tools)
  • bau:class (German construction industry)
  • PROLIST (German process control and electrical engineering)
  • CECED/PI (European white goods standard)
  • IMT (International medical devices)
  • EDMA (International in-vitro diagnostics)
  • eCALS (East Asian electronics)

The objective is to achieve interoperability to other systems.

Interoperability can also be reached by mapping to other classification systems such as the UNSPSC, the GPC and the CPV.

[edit] Update

eCl@ss distinguishes between three types of releases and publishes a rather transparent release roadmap. Please see The Release Process.


[edit] How often do new versions of eCl@ss appear?

eCl@ss is a classification systems that ensures its users a high level of planning security. Therefore the publication of eCl@ss release and the release roadmap are announced well in advance. Customer requirements are thereby implemented in an efficient and targeted manner. Please see The Release Process.

[edit] Do I have to download each eCl@ss update?

You do not necessarily have to download each and every update. The current version is always recommended as the standard version for technical reasons. But in the end, the choice of the release used in your systems depends on the release versions of your business partners. If you use eCl@ss for electronic data exchange with your customers or suppliers, it can make a lot of sense to carry out the updates at least once a year to remain up to date. More and more, updates can be installed in a semi or fully automated manner without system conflicts with the help of RUF and TUF.

[edit] What is modified in each update?

The eCl@ss release roadmap comprises three types of releases, the order of which is clearly defined to ensure planning reliability for all users. Please see The Release Process.

[edit] Are mapping tables available for the various releases?

Mapping tables are available for all updates starting with eCl@ss version 4.0. The mapping tables are made available to ordinary members for internal usage free of charge. All other users can order the mapping tables starting from version 6.x via the eCl@ss DownloadPortal.

[edit] Is it possible to perform an update using the 8-digit class number?

It is only possible to carry out updates using the identifier. These identifiers are unique codes used to identify the respective objects in a database. The 8-digit class number can change within the context of structural changes in a new Major Release.


[edit] Association

[edit] Who is behind eCl@ss?

The association eCl@ss e.V. was founded in November 2000 by a group of large German companies and took on responsibility for standardizing product and service classification. You can find a list of all members here.

[edit] Can everyone become a member of eCl@ss?

Everyone can become a member of the eCl@ss association. Ordinary members can – regardless of legal form – be companies and associations. Supporting members on the other hand, can only be companies or natural persons.

[edit] What benefits does the eCl@ss membership provide?

eCl@ss offers its members three different types of membership. Each of these forms provides numerous benefits. Several economically interesting eCl@ss-specific benefits and services can be taken advantage of and future-oriented customer-supplier relations can be developed and improved. If you would also like to profit from the benefits of an eCl@ss e.V. membership and the experience of its members, please do not hesitate to contact the eCl@ss office.

[edit] What organizational units does eCl@ss e.V. consist of?

The bodies and committees of eCl@ss e.V. are represented on our organization chart.

[edit] Which competent partners support eCl@ss e.V.?

In the standardization sector, the association maintains relations with the ISO committees TC 37 and TC 184 as well as a co-operation with the Deutschen Institut für Normung e.V. (DIN). eCl@ss is also associated with the European Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN), the German Bundesverband für Materialwirtschaft, Einkauf und Logistik e.V. (BME) and the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V. (VDMA).

[edit] Further Development

eCl@ss distinguishes between three types of releases and publishes a rather transparent release roadmap. Please see The Release Process.


[edit] How long does it take for a change request to be implemented?

The processing time for change requests depends on the type and scope of the change. If a structure already exists and only requires modification, then the request may be integrated as early as the next Minor Release, but is usually integrated in eCl@ss within twelve months. Applications made by eCl@ss e.V. members for integration of new classes and properties will be handled with priority. Requests requiring vast changes to the existing structure can only be implemented every 3-4 years within the context of a major release.

[edit] How can I have new classes integrated in eCl@ss?

Every user has the option to make change and enhancement requests on the eCl@ss ContentDevelopmentPlatform.

[edit] Who is responsible for developing eCl@ss?

eCl@ss is developed by its members and users. The economical use of eCl@ss results in high levels of distribution and use. Therefore change requests are constantly being sent to eCl@ss from outside of the organization. eCl@ss cooperates with requestors to maintain eCl@ss across industry boundaries.

[edit] When will eCl@ss be finished?

A user-oriented classification system requires continual maintenance. This is the direct result of the innovative capacities of the participating companies and the emergence of entirely new sectors. New products are being placed on the market on an ongoing basis and all of theses products require classification in the eCl@ss system.

[edit] Can I work with eCl@ss even if I am not a member?

Yes, we welcome your input in our eCl@ss ContentDevelopmentPlatform which is open to everyone and can be used free of charge after registering once. The contribution is not bound to a membership in the eCl@ss association. The lion's share of the development work is carried out by the expert groups and it is therefore extremely beneficial if this work can be distributed among several parties. However, membership in eCl@ss e.V. has many attractive benefits.

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