CAD-BOM Missing Links

CAD-BOM Missing Links

One of the interesting trends in PLM is growing amount of vertical integrations between components of PLM portfolio. The following Razorleaf blog cough my attention earlier this week- Dassault Published V6R2011. Here is the quote from Razorleaf blog pointing on the specific feature that, in my view, requires additional discussion:

Generative Drafting Associative EBOM
– The BOM on the face of the CATIA drawing may now be configured to reflect the EBOM in ENOVIA.  It seems the tight coupling of CAD and PDM are bringing interesting features to the table.

You can find full CATIA V6R2011 facts sheet navigating your browser on the following location. This CATIA V6R11 BOM in CAD feature made me think about various aspects related to vertical integration between CAD and PDM components.

CAD-BOM missing links
Design and Bill of Materials are two entities that are representing important dependencies in product development. If you realize an importance of a link between CAD and Bill of Material managed by PLM or ERP system, you have a huge potential in optimization of your development processes. An appropriated access to engineering and manufacturing bill of materials from the designer standpoint and vice-versa can be used to synchronize multi-discipline design processes (i.e. Mechanical and electrical), development and manufacturing processes, etc. The value of this CAD-BOM link is hard to underestimate. However, this link needs to be established in multi-CAD environment too, which represent a next challenge to PLM software vendors and implementations.

CAD in BOM or BOM in CAD?
This is one of the questions on the working table of CAD, PDM and PLM developers already many years. Do we need to integrate CAD data into Bill of Material Management environment? Alternatively, maybe we need to integrated BOM environment and data into CAD system. This is kind of “eggs and chicken” problem. Both parts are equally important. However, to support integration balance between them is not a simple task. Many PLM systems stand-up and failed around this problem. My intuitive preference is to allow to the system managing Bill of Material to be connected to multiple CAD systems and absorb it under single BOM umbrella.

What is my conclusion? The integration of BOM and CAD components and data is old, but still un-resolved. At the same time, the potential of optimization of design, engineering and manufacturing processes around CAD-BOM missing link can be significant. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Chris

    The MBOM on the drawing… maybe I just need more coffee but this seemed to just make me sleepy. Generative Drafting Associative EBOM, the complete BOM can now be placed on the drawing. Big deal! How can combining two end deliverables provide much of any value? OK of course you need an accurate BOM on your assembly drawing… and everyone has forever by adding the missing component manually into the BOM table on the drawing. The assembly drawing is one of the last things completed as well the BOM, so how does combining these provide any process value? OH and what about model based approaches? I thought drawings were a thing of the past?

    Don’t you think the full BOM / complete product BOM exists in Excel for most of the product development process? And what about production tasks? Do these ever exist in Excel, see a post I just wrote about a customer of ours that builds vehicles The BOM is as much a way to organize the development process as it is a way to describe/define the product.

  • beyondplm

    Chris, drink coffee first :)… Development process can be much easier if you can build association between deliveries. Design, Engineering, Manufacturing needs to be connected. This is an approach built by most of PLM systems. This integration demanded by many customers. This is why the topic PLM-ERP integration is always interesting. This is why SAP (and other ERP vendors) invested into integration with CAD systems and later with systems like RH.A separate question if the methods proposed by CAD/PLM vendors are efficient. My interest to this quote and write up was actually mainly because Razorleaf presented V6 vertical CAD-BOM/EMOVIA integration as a step towards better integration across products. Which automatically made me think about how the bundle of CATIA and ENOVIA will be integrated with other CAD and PDM products.Excel is a different story. If you are not implementing PDM/PLM/ERP, you can decide for Excel. I wrote about it a lot and my conclusion always was – Excel is a litmus paper test for problems. If you see lots of Excel in the enterprise you can find problems. Just my thoughts…Thanks for comments! Best, Oleg

  • Ryan


    Read you assembly instructions blog and well…your appoach is not “crazy”. It’s been being done by many companies already. That is, web-based work instructions tied to MRP systems with full-blown users controlled 3D animations with digital or bio signature sign-offs.

    Sorry, nothing crazy and nothing new either.

    Best regards

  • beyondplm

    Ryan, thanks for posting this link. Actually, I’ve seen a similar stuff from Lattice. I’m less familiar with Cortona3d work. Can you make any comment on Lattice work vs. Cortona? Thanks, Oleg

  • Ryan

    Cortona3D has been working the technical publication market for some time and has some really large accounts in aero/defense. The Cortona3D solution works great for online parts catalogs, procedure manuals, work instructions and even in the training of sales staff!

    The core viewer is based on vrml. I have people tell me that vrml is a dead format put it is a great tool for delivering graphic intense files via the web. I’ve seen 80Meg CAD data files stripped down and converted to a file under 1Meg, which is much more manageable for web delivery. Personally, I think that the delivery method is missed by a lot of the products that are trying to work in the technical publication market. And to be honest when you throw content management systems (CMS), Common Source Databases (CSDB’s), and S1000D or other standards at the sales guys they have no clue what you are talking about. The group from Cortona3D have grown up in the tech pub world and understand the intricacies of these environments.

    The UI is pretty simple and geared for those people who have NO 3D experience. Animations are constructed using either a key frame method (long and tedious in most systems) or by using the Simplified English list of pre-defined (but still users configurable) animations. Things like “Remove: Threaded Fastener” implies keyframe elements for (flashing, translations, spin direction arrows, spinning, and disappearing). All these key frames are generated and populate automatically. If the user doesn’t like what the system provides then you edit that element and off you go. If you can work PowerPoint and its animations, you can work this. The simplified English is critical for translation purposes as the words are usually represented in all languages. I’ve actually seen a demo of a Kanji based document converted on the fly to English just using the google translate options on my browser! Think of the many you could save on your translations cost right there!

    I could go on for some time but will let you request a demo or view the online demos or recorded webinars. I feel it’s a great tool and has some pretty big potential to reduce the costs of technical publications for many organizations.


  • Ryan

    I also forgot to say that the Cortona3D tools are all based on Open Standards..nothing proprietary.

  • beyondplm

    Ryan, thank you so much about sharing these details. Btw, what Open Standards Cortona3D is using? Do you know if Cortona is using any Open Source products? Best, Oleg