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Bill of Materials

high-tech-electronic

Products are getting complex these days. Look on every small electronic gadget in your hands. It is actually combined from multiple pieces – mechanical parts, plastics, electronic and software. Traditionally you are using separate tools to design these parts – MCAD, PCB design, software tools. Then it gets tricky a bit – you need to put together right information about the product, manage changes, coordinate with suppliers, etc. PLM tools are here to help. But, for some reasons, it is a difficult problem to handle.

Engineering.com article In High-Tech Electronics, Managing Three Lifecycles As One is a New Key to Product Development by Laila Hirr speaks exactly about that problem. Here is my favorite passage from the article explaining the problem:

HTE’s need for PLM is straightforward—a firmer grasp of the information generated before and during product development and subsequently “in the field.” Many information needs go unmet when products go into assembly operations of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and built into other manufacturers’ components in complex supply chains. Users and system integrators may also be slow to share information.

For many reasons, PLM has repeatedly fallen short in this industrial sector. At CIMdata, the reason we see most often is a lack of integration with the full information set that defines the product. Achieving this integration is a multidisciplinary challenge and in PLM’s twenty-plus year history with the high tech industry, the challenge has yet to be resolved. This largely accounts for the scarcity of compelling PLM successes in HTE and the ongoing skepticism about PLM.

Article speaks about absence of integration between tools and dependencies on homegrown spreadsheets to manage bill of materials and change. Which made me think about core problem in PLM tools – management of multi-disciplinary BOM. I addressed this problem in the keynote presentation at ProSTEP iViP Symposium few weeks ago – PLM and ERP: separated by a common Bill of Materials (BOM). PLM systems today are addressing BOM management. Most of them are taking an approach to manage multiple bill of materials view. However, these tools are not efficient enough to manage a BOM which contains mechanical, electronic and software pieces together.  The complexity of BOM is driven by multiple disciplines, change management and product lifecycle as I presented on the following slide

bom-complexity-1

What is my conclusion? Technical difficulties and disagreement between people often can lead to problems in establishment of cohesive BOM management solutions. PLM fails to provide a way to manage multi-disciplinary BOM and changes. High-tech and electronic industry is specific because of high diversity of design tools – mechanical, electronic, software. PLM tools are not integrated well with design tool, which leads to poor BOM management. There are several reasons why it happens – limits of BOM management tools, complexity of integrations between design tools provided by multiple suppliers, UI complexity. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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bom-lifecycle

Yesterday, I had a privilege to share my thoughts about Bill of Materials and BOM management during my keynote at ProSTEP iViP Symposium in Stuttgart. That was my first time at ProSTEP conference. The first day is over. I will be publishing  updates in my live blog here.

The discussion about Bill of Materials is always interesting and entertaining. BOM is a centerpiece of every engineering solution. As an organization you have to manage different aspects of Bill of Materials during design, engineering, manufacturing and support stages. These days, as companies are moving from selling products into services, support and maintenance BOM is getting more into the focus of discussions. After all, Bill of Materials is complex topic. On the following picture you can see multiple dimensions of BOM complexity:

bom-complexity-1

In every organization, Bill of Materials has two notions  - technical and political. The first one is absolutely important. The following three characteristics are absolutely important if you think about reliable BOM management solution: 1/ ability to manage multi-disciplinary data; 2/ scalability; 3/ user acceptance. User acceptance is a tricky thing. The demands of people in an organization about BOM are different. Engineering, manufacturing, support, supply chain, sales – these organizations have want to see BOM differently.

enterprise-bom

However, regardless on the role of a person in organization, the following demands are absolutely critical: 1/ No errors (each mistake in BOM is painful and can lead to significant problems in an organization ; 2/ No painful date re-entry (nobody wants to enter information into BOM multiple times); 3/ No painful synchronization of data between PLM, ERP and other systems.

bom-management-demands

Below you can find a full deck of my presentation:

 

What is my conclusion? Bill of Materials and BOM is a very interesting topic. My hunch, it is getting even more in the focus of people as products are getting more complex. These days every single product is a combination of mechanical, electronics and software. Manufacturing companies are selling it as a services. Customers are demanding configurability, high quality and low cost. How to manage all these things together? The following three questions are absolutely important when you think about BOM management – 1/ How to support connected processes in an organization? 2/ How to stop synchronizing BOM between silos (PLM, ERP and others)? 3/ How PLM and ERP can support a concept of “single BOM”? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PS. If you want to discuss more about BOM management, please feel free to contact me directly.

 

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contract-manufacturing-collaboration

Globalization and contract manufacturing are two important trends that shaping modern manufacturing. Companies are using contract manufacturers (CM) for different purposes – design, component supply, assembly, fabrication, etc. In some industries such as electronic, contract manufacturing is an absolutely vital part of your product success. My attention caught by EE Times article: 5 Don’ts and Do’s for Working with a Contract Manufacturer. It is short and sweet – I certainly recommend you to have a read.

Here are my favorite two recommendations – prepare detailed documentation and design for manufacturing.

Prepare Detailed Documentation — I don’t think it’s possible to under-communicate when it comes to providing instructions to a CEM. The more CAD files, schematics and specs you deliver with your design the better, from our perspective. And don’t forget to provide a comprehensive bill of materials with alternate part numbers – or have your CEM do this for you.

Design for Manufacture — DFM essentially means considering how easy and cost-effective it is to manufacture an assembly, and designing to reduce those costs. You need a manufacturing mindset to do this well, so leave room for a DFM review and adjustments in your plans.

Thinking about contract manufacturing processes took me back to my 3 modern BOM management challenges. Bill of Material is an important key element in both – documentation and design for manufacture. Very often contract manufacturing work is focused on processes management by ERP system. However, you need to have solid PLM foundation to start thinking about CM work earlier in the process.

So, what are critical elements of PLM system to support your CM processes:

1- Access to component libraries. To have information about components, availability, cost and other parameters such as regulation is critical. To replicate this information into your PLM system is possible, but not reliable and not scalable. Check how PLM system can access this information online or federate it with ERP system you have.

2- Flexible and granular BOM management. You need to organize bill of materials in the way engineering and CM will be able to access it. By doing that you will allow early access to all parties involved into design and manufacturing to access product information.

3- Change management. Everything is changing. It will happen to your design and manufacturing plan too. Find a tool that allows you to manage traceability of changes alongside to bill of material and manufacturing plans.

4- Security. You need to have right technology in place to isolate information that belonging to different CM and subcontractors. It is important to maintain your business relationships and not to disclose sensitive information.

What is my conclusion? Globalization and cost competition leads companies to find somebody else to produce components and outsource specialized work. In many domains, CM is a way to structure industry (think about fabrication and electronic manufacturing as best examples). It leads to outsourcing, offshore and many other options to make the same work in a different places. Bill of materials (BOM) is a critical element in supporting of contract manufacturing. You need to have an ability to organize BOM in a way that allows to all involved organizations to access and make changes in the controlled way. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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The importance of software BOM for hardware security

January 27, 2015

We live in the era of smart products. Modern smartphones is a good confirmation to that. The average person today keeps in his pocket a computer with computational capability equal or even more than computer that aerospace and defense industry used for navigation. In addition to that, you smartphone has communication capability (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) […]

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When BOM is not BOM

December 17, 2014

Bill of Materials (BOM) is a central part of everything in product development. Sometimes, people call it product structure. Manufacturers are using BOM to define list of raw materials, parts and sub-assemblies with corresponded quantities need to manufacture a product. This is over simplistic definition. As usual, devil is details and BOM story is getting […]

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Engineering change and EBOM to MBOM synchronization complexity

November 27, 2014

MBOM (Manufacturing BOM) is a tough problem. Initially, you might think about it as an easy problem. Especially, since companies are managing MBOMs in MRP/ERP systems for a while. However, I think, the time when MBOM was simply originated in MRP system to fulfill demand planning and production orders are gone. And it brings lot […]

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Mass customization is the real reason for PLM to want MBOM

November 25, 2014

Data ownership is an interesting topic. Our life is getting more digital every day and we are asking many interesting questions about who owns data about us. Who owns the data about our Facebook profiles, who owns social media data we created and many others. While still there are some gaps in understanding who owns […]

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PLM vendors’ fight over BOM will require to solve data synchronization problems

November 10, 2014

Engineering.com article by Verdi Ogewell earlier today is introducing a next step of PLM vs. ERP battle for ownership of manufacturing BOM. Navigate to the following link to read a very provoking interview with Siemens PLM CEO Chuck Grinstaff who says – “PLM should take over ownership of the manufacturing BOM too“. I’ve been writing about […]

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Multiple dimensions of BOM complexity

October 15, 2014

Bill of Material topic is getting more attention these days. No surprise. BOM is a center of universe in manufacturing (and not only) world. People can disagree about terminology applied to BOM management. Depends on a specific domain people can call it part list, specification, formula. But at the same time, everybody speak about the […]

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MBOM collaboration and cost of change

October 9, 2014

The only thing that is constant is change. This is very much applies to everything we do around BOM. Engineering and manufacturing eco-system are full of jokes about engineering changes. You maybe heard about renaming “engineering change order” into “engineering mistake order” as well as the correlation between number of engineers and number of ECOs […]

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