Organizations today are looking for ways to improve their performance. I think that the right tools (or right technologies) can help them. One of them is the technology to manage multiple Bill of Materials. Why do I think this is important? I tried to analyze how people in organizations work and discovered that their work is very sequential: design-engineering-manufacturing planning, etc. Each step depends on the previous one. On the other side, it is rare that using single steps from design to manufacturing can create final results as designers and engineers need to work in cycles. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen many tools that can allow to these engineers and designers to work on the same content together. For each step, they need to release information early and move onto the next step and be able to co-edit – this is the only way to improve productivity. It also helps if you don’t lose time on communication and data translation.
Management of multiple Bill of Materials can resolve the bottleneck typical in product development. What can we do practically? We need technologies that allow us to manage multiple structure of information – design, engineering, manufacturing –at the same time. If we can do this, users will be able to co-edit this data without waiting in line until each person in this design-to-manufacturing game finishes his or her work. Today, a lot of time is wasted while waiting for somebody else to finish his or her work.. The second part of this technology will be to eliminate the need for second and third manual data entry. The third and most important part will be the ability to work in cycles where changes are synchronized between multiple structures.
One possible way (this is just to make our discussion more practical) is to create a model for multiple BOMs, will be a 3D matrix of data with the following dimensions:
(1) Bill of Material (actual data structure);
(2) Bill of Material Type or Role (engineering, manufacturing etc.);
(3) Changes (represents level of maturity);
Efficient management of multiple BOMs will resolve bottlenecks and improve organizational performance. I think, the ability to manage these multiple Bill-Of-Materials will be a key capability of the next PLM systems. Although today there are systems that let you work with Bill of Materials, their main disadvantages is that they need people to invest their time into transforming one data structure into another.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.