Why 150% BOM will be obsolete in the future?

Why 150% BOM will be obsolete in the future?

plm-future-150-bom

Have you heard about “150% BOM”? BOM management terminology is confusing sometimes. Ed Lopategui gave a shot to explain it in his last GrabCAD blog – 150% BOM: Buy Two, Get One Free. The following passage was my favorite:

A 150% BOM isn’t sorely in need of some fitness training or sadly overdrawn at the bank. In fact, a 150% BOM is just another name for a variant structure, or more specifically, a configurable BOM. Configurable BOMs have one or more optional components and/or modular subassemblies, which, when properly set, define a specific variation of a product. In effect, a configurable BOM is many possible BOMs loaded into just one product structure. When left unconfigured, the BOM contains more parts and subassemblies than needed, i.e. more than 100%. Hence, the term 150% BOM. So why 150% and not 110% or 117.32%? That’s just the we way we roll in BOM town.

Variant structure, configurable bill of material, modular BOM… the industry invented multiple names to cope with the complexity of communication and product development processes in manufacturing organizations. The core idea of modularization or configuration is not directly related to assembly to order process (ATO), but used widely for configurable and complex products. You can see 150% BOM, 200% BOM and similar BOM organization maintained by engineering department to facilitate creation of final products from predefined parts and sub-assemblies. The product development is actually divided into two essential steps – create your modular (150% BOM) and create a planning bill of a specific product. The last one will allow you to roll out cost and delivery time.

So, why engineers created 150% BOM concept? Do we really need that? In my view, the approach was a way for engineers to manage the complexity of product structure and product variation. You can see it for product configurations and also in bill to order (BTO) situations where complex product development is managed in a way of product technological foundation combined with features developed for specific customer. With absence of better tools, Excel spreadsheet becomes the best product configuration environment and matrix with 150% BOM is the simplest model to present that.

Ed’s blog made me think about future of “150% BOM” and matrix BOM organization. In my view, the concept will disappear in the future. In my view, the complexity of product environment is growing. In many situation, to produce 150% BOM is not feasible anymore. With the level of product complexity, mix of mechanical, electronic and software components, ability of engineers to bring them all together into one 150% BOM can be not practical and even less efficient. We will need to invent new tools to manage the complexity of configurations and product data. With growing demand for personalization, we are not far from the situation, PLM and ERP systems will have to roll out bill of materials individually configured for a specific customer (and this is not only in aerospace and defense industry).

What is my conclusion? Growing complexity of products, move to mass customization, regulatory and cost pressure, global manufacturing – this is a reality of modern manufacturing environments. We need to develop a new approach how to manage product development and manufacturing of these products. Product configurations and BOM is a centerpiece of this approach. A simple 150% BOM spreadsheet will be replaced with new BOM tools. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Oleg, fascinating discussion, as always. You bring up some interesting points. I think ultimately, you’re probably right. It’s certainly true that the acceleration of extreme customization in everything poses some unique problems as we move forward. The 150% BOM approach works to a certain threshold of complexity, albeit a much higher threshold than manually maintaining individual configurations. Which sadly is the old-fashioned model many firms struggle with even today. So I think the incidence of 150% BOMs in spreadsheets is probably low (hopefully!) It’s true the A&D model has largely dealt with individual configuration for some time (without 150%), but at great cost of product despite comparatively small production numbers. I can certainly see an eventual move to something that surpasses the 150% approach when increasing complexity makes setting configuration nodes in advance impractical, but such a robust solution certainly doesn’t exist yet!

    What would that look like? It might require a heuristic way to detect similarities in configurations even as they are designed. Almost an emergent composite BOM, if you will. Future is an interesting prospect, yes?

  • Margaret Shelton

    Without understanding how all companies use the 150 I can’t say I speak for all. For mine, the 150 can be considered like the grocery store that has all of the ingredients. If there is something you are missing for the recipe your following you know that it may be at the grocery store and you just missed picking it up. The configured views of the BOM are invaluable to allow for designing in context but as pointed out, there are many configurations, too many to build and maintain which also means that the configurations are complex and sometimes your BOM line may miss a usage and is not fully aligned to all configurations. The 150% should always have what your looking for as long as your BOM is correct. The visual view of the BOM rather than an excel spreadsheet of part numbers or names just does not seem like it would ever be the right medium to “show” you what your missing. So the 150 may not be pretty but I’m not quite sure it will become extinct any time very soon. But it’s an interesting thought to discuss. Because without that we do not grow.

  • Michael Wm. Denis

    Scary statement, “With absence of better tools, Excel spreadsheet becomes the best product configuration environment and matrix with 150% BOM is the simplest model to present that.” I assumed that PLM systems managing complex multi-dimensional configuration rules was a base capability.
    In the SLM world, there are no options. Cross positional configuration rules, hardware to software (embedded and loadable) configuration rules (ALM) and configuration to operation limits / diagnostics / prognostics and health management (IoT) is “how we roll” in operations & maintenance town!

  • beyondplm

    Ed, thanks for your comment! Future will have to bring more robust and easy to use (!) product (BOM) configuration tools. 150% BOM is not sustainable. What is today implemented for A&D is dead complex. Which brings us back to the overall “simple PLM” strategy :). Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Margaret, thanks for your comment! You’re absolutely right when you say 150 cannot guarantee the correctness of the BOM. And it will go down… in the future.

  • beyondplm

    Michael, thanks for capturing this! In my view, this is a reality. PLM based multi-dimensional configurations work in large A&D. However step down from Boeing / Airbus and you will see lots of Excels… I’d love somebody to correct me and say I’m wrong. a

  • Margaret Shelton

    The 150 will not become extinct or go down until there is another bucket to hold all geometry. If configuration is incorrect then the parts will not be in the “configured” models but they will be in the 150. There is an absolute value to the 150 and I do not see it going away any time soon.

  • beyondplm

    It is an interesting point. I’d assume Design BOM to hold geometry. However, depends on the environment it is not necessarily should be 150% BOM. For example if your 3D model is completely configurable… Does it make sense?

  • pgarrish

    I would assume that the auto industry has pushed this concept further than most. Few other industries offer the range of configurations of a modern car. And if you go further up the chain to platform sharing etc, then the permutations are mind blowing. I think the key here is the selection of a single option having multiple knock-on effects further down the BoM – the obvious choice between things, but also the subsequent de-selection of hidden items and selection of other hidden things, the prevention of some selections and the requirement to make other selections – simple example, choosing the Sport model requires selection of an 18″ wheel whereas the normal model allows selection of a 17″ wheel, or the 18″. I cannot see any pratical method for managing this other than in PLM – it must be available when viewing the design and for when assessing change. The key area of deficiency would seem to be the validation of the BoM – ensuring you always end up with exactly 100%, even though there are hundreds or thousands of ways of achieving that 100% BoM.

    I think managing 150% BoM and enabling easy configuration is key to freeing up design resource. In a recent client, they have a catalogue in place (on paper) with different types of connector, different handles and different numbers of internals. This is managed via a ‘map’ on a drawing and some ERP based development. But it means that design are involved in EVERY sale and are frequently a bottleneck. If the system was setup with the rules in place, sales could make the selection (or even the customer) and simply pass on a pre-validated order to the shop

  • Hagay Dvir

    150% BOM is an interesting way to model variation, but there
    is only a very narrow band of products on the spectrum of configurability that
    can benefit from it. On one side of the spectrum products need to be packaged
    into SKUs and the value of having a configurable 150% BOM is questionable since
    each SKU need to have a defined BOM (you can model it as a variation on a 150%
    BOM, but why would you?!). On the other side, products are so insanely configurable
    that new PNs need to be created for each configuration (AKA Engineering To
    Order) and what you end up is a Catalog of parts with a Rule engine. This is
    very different from a 150% BOM. And even within this narrow band in the middle,
    the product needs to be expensive enough to justify the complexity of 150% BOM.

    But for those products within this band that are expensive
    enough (only the automotive industry comes to mind here), there may not be an
    alternative in the foreseeable future. I venture a guess that this is an area
    where the status quo will remain intact for a long time to come.

  • beyondplm

    You are right – auto industry pushed it forward. However, real beneficiary of design / product configuration is manufacturers of highly configurable equipments (including special cars). My best example from this week is fire track. It is 3’000+ configurations over 30’000 parts. Lots of dependencies. Nearly impossible to manage using 150% BOM. WIthin time we will see even more examples like this… Products are getting more complex these days.

  • beyondplm

    Hagay, thanks for that comment! Yes, product configurations, rule engines… this is sounds like a right way to solve configuration problem. 150% BOM is limited indeed.

  • pgarrish

    Hi Hagay,

    I’m not sure I understand the difference between 150% BoM and a catalogue with a rules engine. My understanding of 150% BoM is a product structure with every permutation contained – so a simple example is it’s a car and there are two engine part numbers in there. Making a decision (effectivity, options, variants, rules) selects one engine and de-selects the other. The 150% BoM is then reduced to a (hopefully) 100% BoM. As you say, this may-need / should-get a new parent part number – and perhaps this is where the divergence comes, once that permutation is created, perhaps it should be come a standalone structure with a unique p/no. Creating another permutation through another selection could create another parent part with a unique configuration and so-on.

    Just to really upset everyone, perhaps the answer is dynamic part numbers – p/no generated at the time of configuration selection?

  • Sami Kentta

    Good discussion! I’m working in an environment with both configure-to-order and engineer-to-order products – we’re even talking about CTO in ETO and ETO in CTO products – so mixing different kinds products into a single solution. Clearly it is visible that the “old-fashioned” 150% BOM which is purely based on choosing correct items from an existing variant structure, needs elements which allow easy creation of new part numbers during the configuration process. To create these new part numbers these is a need to use various tools which can e.g. determine cable lengths based on certain rules or create new 3D models for steel structures based on predefined parametric models. All this ought to reduce the amount of needed ETO content in our portfolio – making products more and more configurable.

  • Oleg, from my observations most companies that resort to Excel BOM tools aren’t bothering with the sophistication of a variant structure. If they can’t see the value in properly managing a BOM, they probably don’t see the value in configurable BOMs. The vast majority I have seen who do employ 150% configurations are in automotive or construction equipment (I can think of one in A&D). All of those cases are doing so within a PLM system, and most have some kind of custom configurator setup as well.

  • Certainly see you point, but many automotive configurations are in that level of complexity. They just throw a lot of money and resources and maintaining a rather unwieldy 150% approach.

    Is something better needed? Absolutely! But in the right now, there’s little alternative.

  • The variant implementations I have seen can assign a unique number to a configured structure which then can presumably have effectivity layered on top as well.

  • I like the idea. The technologies to do this certainly exist in CAD today, but it requires active planning and participation by design. The trick is capturing that design intent such that it can be actively configured from the outside. Sounds simple – but making such a thing robust is very hard.

  • pgarrish

    arghhhhhhh Options, Variants AND Effectivity…. I think I need a lie down

  • beyondplm

    Ed, there are few alternatives in the market. Big top PLM vendors are there and few smaller alternatives. In my view, you need to have more than “just good BOM management” to work with automotive OEMs.

  • beyondplm

    Pgarrish, yes, the difference between “simple 150% BOM” and “configured rule-based structure” is that when you use the first one you are on your own to decide about the complexity of dependencies.

  • beyondplm

    Sami, thanks for sharing the example. Yes, sometimes, the dependencies are complex. The easy way to manage it (if you still want to use old-fashion 150% BOM) is to make some kind of modular BOM phantoms with dependencies. However, as much as complexity will grow, you will have hard time to keep it up to speed of changes.

    The idea to use some “configurable 3D rules” is neat. But how is that feasible for implementation? What CAD tool are you using?

  • Sami Kentta

    From configuration point of view I could compare products I’m dealing with to cars or trucks, except the fact that in addition to choosing modules, parts and so on, our product dimensions also vary per customer order – basically millimeter by millimeter, in a wide range. It would be unrealistic to expect us to create and maintain items for each dimension variant. Teamcenter and NX are main tools we do use. At the moment I’m looking forward to understand where Rulestream is going, the technology seems to be fast developing and also providing some answers to question we are dealing with.

  • beyondplm

    Sami, I agree- rules potential in everything that “not discrete” and contains variable dimensions will be the highest possible.

    I’d be interested to know how Rulestream can work together with Teamcenter. This is an interesting experiment.

  • Naresh Y

    Sami, did you experiment using Teamcenter Variants and Options and building 150% BOM in Teamcenter.. I agree building variants for each millimeter is tedious work.. but its one time work and if this can be used for next 10-15 years ,..sont you think its worth doing this one time for each millimeter..

  • Naresh Y

    We have tools to manage 150% in Siemens PLM Teamcenter… I am really scared to push users back to Excel mode…

  • Naresh Y

    I agree with you Margaret, now many PLM tools has come up with solutions on managing 150% BOM. Till we have any better solution.. it will stay and its quite used in Automotive industry

  • Naresh Y

    Olg, quick question “is concept of 150% NOT sustainable” or “Managing 150% BOM in Spread sheets is NOT sustainable” or Both or NOT sustainable…?

  • beyondplm

    Naresh, in my view 150% BOM is by definition assumes “simple spreadsheet” with the list of parts. An alternative is to have “configurable BOM”.

  • Naresh Y

    If you say the solution of 150% BOM in SPREAD SHEETS is not sustainable, I agree with you 200%. But the concept of 150% BOM is sustainable and the solution managed in Teamcenter using Variants and options which enables multiple product configuration is very much sustainable & user friendly solution ..

  • Pingback: Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) Blog » How the idea of single BoM can fit variants and configuration management?()

  • Vijay

    Do this 150% BOM will help to produce the Vehicle or product as build (MBOM)? How much 150% BOM will help to manufacture a product

  • beyondplm

    150% BOM is a concept often used to manage configurations. You can try apply it to MBOM as well. I assume your MBOM is used for purchasing and not for “manufacturing process”. The second case is more complex and will involve routing, etc.