Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Material

I’d like to continue discussion around the topic raised yesterday by Jim Brown and this is about “single bill of material”. I was reading Jim’s post and my thoughts was about why managing of single bill of material is questionable? I think the key answer to that is because in a real company we have multiple systems and everybody are touching bill of material. So, since I hardly believe business owners of these systems will agree how to share Bill of Material, we do have a “multiple bill of material” status-quo.


Now, I don’t believe systems like we have in manufacturing companies – all these EDM, PDM, PLM, ERP, CRM, MDM… will be magically agree on how to share bill of material in short term. But at the same time, I think, our industry is spending mega-bucks trying to synchronize all these bill of whatever we have (materials, documents, processes, requirements, configurations etc.). So, since Daily PLM Think Tank is about ideas, I decided to put key seven rules that can bring us to the new status quo of “single bill of material”. May be definition of this bill of material in the beginning will be shared between multiple systems, but even so, it will create movement toward single bill of material.

So, here are my seven rules.

1. Complete Data Representation. Data in Bill of Material starting from Part Number and ending all characteristics need to be complete to satisfy needs on all “company-customers” in every department starting from sales and ending up in manufacturing and services.

2. Unique Part Numbers. We need to establish a central system to maintain by single system. If Part is going to change from Form Fit and Function standpoint, new unique Part Number need to be created.

3. Synchronized Changes. We need to prevent changes that potential can be made on partial data representation. Example could be changes in Design System without appropriated changes in manufacturing and all other systems or data collections.

4. To use Part Numbers only.
Bill of Materials need to be made of Part Numbers only. We need to prevent usage of any alternative identification such as – drawing numbers etc.

5. Include all scheduled items. We need to include all items that need to scheduled for manufacturing and shop-flow. Everything that going to production need to be incuded into bill. There is no item that will be excluded for whatever reason (i.e. non completed assemblies and semi-finished items).

6. Less levels will be better.
The simple solution is the most complicated one. Today manufacturing is struggling to become lean. I think to manage as less as possible levels in Bill of Material will allow to simplify significantly everything we are doing (including way to synchronize or management bill of material).

7. Complete Approval before change. All requested to change need to be approved by all people that are using Bill of Material before bill is going to change. This is will allows trust between users of the bill of materials.

So, in my view, by following such rules we can get much better quality Bill of Material in organization. This is not requires religious discussions about single vs. multiple bill of materials. In the end, nobody cares in how many databases/files/servers we are going to store this (or these) bill of materials.

As usual, I’m very interesting in your feedback. Especially on such non-technological topic. Please, let me know what do you think?

Best, Oleg

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