Not-Linear BOM Perspectives

Not-Linear BOM Perspectives

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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  • Hi oleg,

    I think it would be nice to take a look at step ap214. I think it manages a single bom but with different views depending on the department. I’ll check that. I think it would be good practice to start from existing standards and maybe criticize if we don’t agree on some concept.


    ps: Disqus “post as…” button definitely doesn’t work on IPAD (well maybe i should try by loggin on disqus website first, i’ll try that next time)

  • Vik Paranjpe

    I am glad you found my article interesting.
    I could not agree more that usability and synchronization rules are key, to user adoptability of any BOM management tools.
    I can not speak about other application providers, but I think ENOVIA V6 suite of applications has taken a step in the right direction with BOM consolidation.


  • beyondplm

    Vik, thank you! I think, BOM synchronization cannot be done without appropriate balance in people-oriented work, user interface and automatic tools. I haven’t had a chance to see latest V6 stuff, unfortunately. I don’t think any of PLM providers is doing it today successfully. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, do you think AP214 and other STEP-related work will take off? I found they are pretty complicated and associated cost is very high. In addition, vendors are against standardizing on them anyway. It used as an option if it needed and asked by a customer. What is your view? Best, Oleg
    PS. iPad disqus works for me. However, it is not working horse. It is more for reading…

  • Oleg,
    I’ve no idea if AP214 is going to take off and actually there are things that i disagree with. I’m not saying that we need to adopt that. But some smart people have invested time in doing that, so i think it’s not the worst idea to watch that, discuss it and propose change (on a blog level of course or a futur Best Seller PLM book!).
    For example in AP214, for an item, you have a Master, Versions and Views. I understand the need of views and versions but clearly i think Master is useless. And Aras use the id of the first version of an item to designate some sort of master, i think that’s clearly enough. The master is just a reference to the whole Item it should contain any property.
    Well i’m saying that because I think collaboration is also about criticizing each others work. I’ll try to do some AP214 analysis and critics soon on my blog.

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, don’t take me wrong… STEP is probably one of the best available and successful efforts in creating standards for manufacturing and engineering space. My question was not about how practically STEP AP can become part of software deliveries? As you said – you like Views, but have a concern about Master. How all these “standards”-modification can work out? Best, Oleg

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