Not-Linear BOM Perspectives

by Oleg on September 2, 2010 · 492 comments

Summer is finally over. This is a good reason to stop talking about fancy social software and cool Apple’s features. Let’s move back to the core of design, engineering and manufacturing. Yes, I’d like to talk about Bill of Materials. The following blog article drove my attention earlier this week – BOM: An ENOVIA V6 Perspective. Vik Paranjpe of Razorleaf is discussing details about V6 BOM specifics. I found his initial passage very interesting:

By now companies have accepted the reality that product creation is not a linear task going from Design department to manufacturing and beyond. All the departments (including Design, Development, Quality, and Manufacturing) provide input to the product development process, e.g. Quality might have an opinion on the types of components to be used which in turn will impact the design being produced. This increases the need for a centralized BOM management solution that provides a single source of truth for the bill of materials with different “views” of the BOM for each department.

What I specially like is a definition of product creation as “not linear task“. It fits my perspective on the need to consolidate Bill of Material management effort. My last take on this was about a year ago in my post – Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Materials.  Since then, I had a chance to discuss a concept of Bill of Material consolidation with customers and experts. I think, companies need to make an effort in consolidating their Bill of Materials related tasks. However, the software available today on the market contains multiple gaps that can make implementation very complicated.

Single BOM vs. Multiple BOMs
This is one of the key questions people is asking when trying to analyze the capability of BOM Tools. In my view, this question is very misleading. The real question should be related to the ability of software to handle the complexity of tasks related to product structure modeling for all users in the organization. Designers, Engineers, Manufacturing planners and all other relevant people need to have an ability to access the product structure and BOM Information.

Automatic vs. Manual
I can see a “not-linear” product creation as the ability of Bill of Material tools to handle multiple synchronization and change steps related to performing various tasks in design, engineering and manufacturing planning. BOM provides you with the ability to consolidate it. One of the usual mistakes is trying to provide a fully automated process of Bill Material synchronization rules. The appropriate balance of automatic and manual tasks is absolutely important to make BOM tool fit the needs.

BOM Tools – Devil in Details
In order to perform BOM-related tasks successfully, BOM software needs to provide a diverse set of tools. The granularity of these tools is a key, in my view. You need to be able to perform a variety of BOM slice&dice,  changes and reviews. The usability and availability of rich set of functions is the key.

What is my conclusion? Despite a long history, Bill of Material management is a still very challenging task. PDM/PLM vendors are working for decades to provide improved software modules to satisfy user demands. Each time, we see new modules and approaches in Bill of Material management. Lately, I can see a trend to provide better vertical integration in PLM tools. BOM management is a central part of this vertical integration. However, implementation of complex PLM suites is an expensive task. A good question could be what is the potential alternative of vertical integration?

Best, Oleg

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