I can remember searching the component database at my employer in 1980. A 1 uF capacitor could be called:
1 uF, 1uF, 1.0 uF,1.0uF, 1MFD, 1 MFD, 1.0MFD or 1.0 MFD (for example) and trying to search the database for parts would drive me nuts. I think that some smaller capacitor values were worse because people might use uuF instead of pF. Please do not give me grief about the Greek letter “mu” for “micro” as I don’t think the 1980 database could handle that at all. I do not know if this forum can handle it, and I don’t feel like trying to dig up the special character.
On a consulting job within the last year, the problem was less severe only because the inventory was much smaller in a much smaller company. But sorting with Excel was still an exercise in frustration. So the problem had not really been solved in 39 years.
In my own schematics I try to use engineering notation to indicate values for resistors and capacitors. For example 1e-6 for a capacitor or 20e+3 for a resistor. Spreadsheets readily accept scientific or engineering notation as a number, so the result is a BOM which is easily sorted. Of course the value of a resistor or capacitor does not fully describe it, but if your sorting can easily group all of the 1 uF capacitors together (for example) it is much better than if it cannot.
I stock a fair number of parts in my own lab. I keep them in plastic bags according to value. For example ceramic chips in bags by value. (Except that I think Y5V ceramic capacitors belong in the garbage.) :-) When I build a board, I sort the BOM according to value. So when I assemble a board, I (theoretically at least) should not need to go back and forth between bags of components.
Now, many people (including non-technical and some engineers) don’t like to use or cannot understand this notation, so the value in K ohms or M ohms or pF could be included in an additional field. It seems to me that BOMs these days typically have plenty of columns (fields.)
FYI, engineering notation is basically scientific notation in which the exponent is a multiple of +3 or -3. That aligns with the usual prefixes of Meg, Kilo, milli, micro, nano, etc.
Does anyone think this is a good idea, or a bad idea?