From the category archives:



I attended PI Congress in Dusseldorf last month. During the conference I had a chance to share my thoughts about PLM selection process. PLM landscape is changing these days. There are multiple opportunities to get PLM differently these days. Even some of my colleagues in PLM analytic community can call the complexity and cost of PLM implementation urban legend, I still believe many companies are asking how to develop right PLM strategy and implementation approach.

If you ask a company what they believe is the most important area of investment when planning and implementing PLM you are likely to get many answers. You can go between choosing the right vendor, setting up right PLM implementation team. You can hear about importance of cultural change management and many others. The truth is, there is no right answer. PLM is different and your company is an important factory you need to consider when selecting PLM system and strategy.

These are topics I covered my short commentary. .

1- What is the biggest force to change existing PLM paradigms.

PLM implementation is still considered as a complex task, which takes time, resources and cost. I believe, new paradigms should changed that. It is like waterfall development process. Agile development methods came to change it. The same with PLM. New paradigms – cloud, agile, etc. are coming to make a change in PLM.

2- What should every company thinking before taking first steps in PLM implementation.

Take a look in a mirror. You should learn your company and development processes. Company should understand how current processes are working. It sounds simple, but many companies are missing that. Without that PLM implementation doesn’t make sense – you will just automate bad processes.

3- How is vendor competition is changing PLM landscape

PLM space is dominated by  few very large vendors. It is a very competitive space with high barrier to entrance. Nevertheless, companies are looking for alternatives and I can see few interesting entrants into PLM space. Aras had fresh approach with enterprise open source. Aras claims “different PLM” with model based SOA platform and new business model. Autodesk came into PLM back in 2012 with cloud PLM. It was a change. These days cloud is transforming all vendors. This is probably the last big changing force in the industry.

4- What is the common misconception regarding PLM

The biggest misconception is that PLM can solve the problem of bad product development processes. PLM as a tool  and technology. It cannot solve bad organization process. Only company and people can do so.

5- Where do PLM implementation go wrong

There are few typical situations when PLM implementation process can go wrong. Some of them are generic and can fail any IT project. However, some of them are more specific. Here is my list – wrong expectations, no C-level support, no plan, integration between new PLM system and other systems wasn’t planned, company is planning to force a change in a short period of time.

What is my conclusion? Take a look in the mirror before starting PLM project. The PLM technology and product itself is not a silver bullet. You need to have deep understanding of your organization and its processes. Only by doing that you can develop right PLM strategy and manage PLM implementation step by step. It will help you to avoid PLM experience that is complicated and miserable. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg




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



Why BOM Management Is Complex?

by Oleg on May 12, 2014 · 6 comments


My last post about Manufacturing BOM raised few interesting comments online and offline. One of them by Jos Voskuil  was pretty straightforward – “What is a big deal about MBM”? Jos pointed me on his earlier post – Where is MBOM? This post as well as few other articles I posted earlier - Why companies are not ready for single BOM? and BOM 101: 5 Don’ts for BOM management made me think why BOM is so complex. I wanted to share these reasons and ask your opinion. Here are my top 3 list of issues that are leading to significant BOM management complexity: 1- Items/Parts identification; 2- Views; 3- Synchronizations. Let me go and explain more specifically what I mean.

1 – Item / Part Identification

Item Master. Item. Part. Assembly. Product. You name it… But whatever you call it, you come down to the way (and format) to identify Parts. Part number is probably the simplest wayto identify things in product design, manufacturing and support. The next question – what Part Number? Things are simple only on the surface. As soon as you dig inside, you find yourself surrounded by manufacturing part numbers, design parts, suppliers part numbers, support parts and many others. The information about them resides in multiple data databases, spreadsheets and systems.

2- Views (or Product Views or BOM Views)

You may think about bill of material as a list of parts and everything else you need to make a product. However, very fast it gets complicated with product configurations, manufacturing information, suppliers,  As-built BOM and maintenance parts. To differentiate and manage all this information is not a simple task.

3- Synchronizations.

As I mentioned before, bill of material information (multiple BOMs) are usually managed by different systems. Often (in case of PLM) multiple BOMs are managed by PLM system itself. Now think about change processes and updates. Each one generates a sequence of updates and dependent operations that needs to be done to synchronize BOMs and keep them in a consistent status. Indeed, one of the most complex tasks in BOM management.

What is my conclusion? BOM is not simple thing as you might think from the beginning. To keep system in sync with diversity of data and processes takes time and effort. Variety of product development and manufacturing approaches, global deployment, etc. How to overcome the complexity of BOM management? Look forward to learn about BOM management complexities you are facing developing and implementing BOM management solutions.

Best, Oleg



How to evaluate PDM before it will ruin your personal productivity

May 2, 2014

Product Data Management (PDM) was around for the last 20-30 years. However, I can see an increased traction around PDM topic last year. You ask me what’s the reason? My simple answer – Dropbox. Think 10 years back. The typical “PDM spiel” was to enable data control and collaboration in a team of engineers. So, […]

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Bill of Materials (BOM) Management: Data, Lifecycle, Process

April 2, 2014

In my recent post about bill of materials – Bill of Materials (BOM): process or technology challenge? I touched the variety of topics related to BOM organization – multiple BOMs and need to manage BOM located in different systems. My main question at the post was around how to make the work with multiple BOMs easier? […]

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Part and Document Management: Why is it Complex?

March 8, 2014

Parts and Documents are two different objects in engineering, product development and manufacturing. While “part” usually represents physical object, “document” usually represents specification, drawing or 3D model of part. Even it it sounds obvious, Document and Part management is not an easy and simple task. In my post – How to manage Document versions, revisions […]

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How to manage Document versions, revisions and Part numbers

March 6, 2014

Identifications, Part Numbers, Documents, Revisions. Despite initial simplicity these terms are often create confusion in organizations and lead to additional misunderstanding. Design and Motion blog post When a version is just a version and a revision is more  made me think again about differences between document revisions / version and part lifecycle. In my earlier […]

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PLM and Magic of MBOM planning

January 21, 2014

Manufacturing BOM (MBOM) is an interesting topic. After all design and engineering operation,  MBOM defines how product is going to be actually manufactured. While most of PLM / ERP debates about MBOM are going around “who owns what”, the most fascinating part that I found in MBOM is related to the nature of manufacturing planning. The […]

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Holidays, PLM Education and Free Math Books

December 25, 2013

Holidays is a time for gifts. I remember a sentence that stuck in my memory from my childhood – book is the best gift. I didn’t find documented confirmation, but I think this statement goes back to Gutenberg era. Back that time, books were very expensive and it was a very valuable gift. Well, nowadays […]

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The Ugly Truth of Multi-BOM Management

December 17, 2013

Bill of Material (BOM) management is always fascinating topic. It sparks so many debates and introduce a large set of diverse opinions. I can even say that I have a special passion to speak about BOM on my blog. If you want to catch up on my recent posts about BOM, you can try these […]

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