I’d like to continue the discussion about the Bill of Materials. I learned a lot from previous posts. Thank you all for your excellent comments!
So, today, I want to focus on potential differences between Engineering and Manufacturing Bill of Materials and put some ideas on how I think, these bills can be managed as a single, or more synchronized one bill. A very logical situation I had a chance to see in many companies – both engineering and manufacturing have their own BOM. If you will request a part list from both BOMs for the same part number, two different BOMs will appear. And these two bills supposed to be in sync…. However, they don’t. In my view, the fact, these bills are not synchronized can bring a very significant damage to the company nowadays. Increased regulation requirements, IT resource optimization – this is the only initial list of the reasons why we can prefer to make some optimization around both engineering and manufacturing BOMs.
I will try to figure out why engineers and manufacturers prefer to have their own bills. Engineers don’t understand the manufacturing’s need for more or less levels in BOM. Most of engineers prefer to have fewer levels in the bill, so it will simplify the process of changes. From their standpoint, it will make the process of changes straightforward. Another situation when engineers, indeed, create additional levels of sub–assemblies. However, in real life these sub–assemblies are consumed on the shop–floor almost immediately and manufacturing doesn’t see any need to assign Part Numbers to these sub–assemblies (lean practices). There is also a situation when manufacturing leads to a false conclusion about two BOMs need. One of the examples is when the assembly requires many parts, but manufacturing is not using them all in once, or they are used in different assembly areas. Even more complicated situations may happen in case you are manufacturing configurable product with multiple options. Set of engineering documents and engineering parts can be significantly different from manufacturing bill you’ll have for a particular order. To manage synchronization between these bills can be a huge task, and it will result in high complexity of software (or procedures) used to make this synchronization happen.
The solution for this problem, I want to discuss is to maintain single bill of material with the sufficient level of granular (or I can call it modular) definitions of parts. The granularity needs to be on the level to satisfy both engineering and manufacturing. Engineers need to have the ability to manage parent/component information. At the same time, manufacturing can maintain the operation information and lead time offset data. In the case of manufacturing to order, a unique bill of material will be generated from a modular set of components.
Advantages of this approach will be eliminating costly synchronization between engineering and manufacturing BOMs. The visible disadvantages of such approach is how to implement it using today’s software. I’m not familiar with applications that can provide the level of flexibility to manage bill of material. I assume some service implementation or customization can be done, and maybe you can share your experience about that.
Just my thought.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.