I don't think it would be terribly difficult to set up if you didn't have serialised numbers for each category. Considering you do, it gets more involved. A template would take care of your part numbering but you would have to manage your categories manually, and your serial number would be global across all categories.
I can't think of another solution without custom programming. Maybe others have some ideas.
DBWorks' categories is very nice feature. I hope Enterprise gets that functionality someday.
I recently did an implementation where the customer requested this. I accomplished it with the "Controlled by variable" functionality in the list boxes. I think it works pretty good as long as you don't have tons of categories.
Your 160 categories may be a bit too many with this technique. A little custom program seems to be your best bet.
Did you find a solution for this yet?
I have a client who is interested in implementing a similar solution, whereby the number for the parts include an alpha character set containing 3 letters.
The first two sets are standard, the last part gives them freedom to play around with 26^3 chars.
Any ideas or information yet?