BOM: Manufacturing and Engineering

October 22, 2009

I’d like to continue discussion about Bill of Materials. I learned a lot from previous posts. Thank you all for excellent comments!

For those, who just joining us, these are links on previous posts:
BOM: Overstructured, Understructured or Lean
Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Material

Picture 10
So, today, I want to focus on potential differences between Engineering and Manufacturing bills and put some ideas how, I think, these bills can be managed as a single, or more synchronized one bill. A very logical situation I had chance to see in many companiesboth engineering and manufacturing have their own BOM. If you will request 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 optimizationthis 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 subassemblies. However, in real life these subassemblies are consumed on the shopfloor almost immediately and manufacturing doesn’t see any need to assign Part Numbers to these subassemblies (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 partsbut 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.
Best, Oleg

Why PLM Need to Learn about SharePoint 2010 Composites?

October 21, 2009

Picture 5Some technology and infrastructure thinking today coming out of SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Without going to more systematic analyzes what Microsoft presented in future coming SharePoint 2010 version (beta is planned in November and release is next year), I’d like to go straight ahead and talk about very interesting topic, in my view, called SharePoint Composites.

Picture 6
As you can see on the picture above SharePoint composites are fundamental part of overall SharePoint marketing architecture and pretty much focuses on rapid creation of no-code collaborative solution. Looking on that together with the ability to unlock enterprise data, I saidthis is something that sounds very PLMish? I think every PLM solution has a strategic need to collaborate and communicate with various pieces of enterprise data and systems. Bill of Materials in ERP, Customer information in CRM and endless list of various databases and homegrown solutionsthis is the only initial list of enterprise data that we face in every PLM implementation.

So, let’s dig inside and see what Microsoft is planning to offer as part of Composites. The major piece of SharePoint composites is evolution of SharePoint BDC (Business Data Catalog). Back in SharePoint 2007, BDC was created to be able to read data from multiple external sources (Microsoft presents it as LOBLine of Business Systems) and connects these multiple data sources into SharePoint Lists, Workspaces etc. BDC evolution path in SharePoint 2010 is what calledBCS (Business Connectivity Services). You can take a look on this picture bellow. What is important is that BCS is supporting full CRUD (for nonprogramming peopleCreate Read Update Delete) framework. So, the application will be able to make full manipulation of data in external systems. This is, of course, depends on technology systems will be connected (SQL or proprietary APIs / Web Services).

Picture 7
So, what is my short conclusion today from initial presentation and review of Microsoft composites and BCS? I think, this framework is an interesting approach SharePoint will use to acquire enterprise data and interplay with enterprise applications. There are two possible scenarios I can figure out for PLM applications with regards to SharePoint Composites:

1. Internal. This option assumes PLM application will be re-using elements of SharePoint composites to get broader system and enterprise data connectivity. This is something that I see logical and should be compliant, in my view, with how Microsoft Composites and BCS will be introduced for companies.

2. External. For this option SharePoint Composite and BCS specifically will assume PLM apps is one of the LOB. So, collaborative scenarios can be built on top of PLM data and interplay with enterprise data and collaborative processes that will come from other systems.

I’m sure, there are much more options and these are only major directions. Good place to see how BCS and Composites will be developed and implemented is to discover and learn everything happens between SharePoint and SAP applications. I’m sure we’ll see interesting scenarios and new types of applications coming out and based on new SharePoint technologies. However, it doesn’t mean it will introduce new conflicts between Microsoft technological frameworks and Enterprise Application vendors frameworks.

Stay tuned on next discussions about SharePoint and related technologies later this week.

Best, Oleg

BOM: Overstructured, Understructured or Lean?

October 20, 2009

I’d like to continue discussion I started in my earlier postSeven Rules Towards Single Bill of Materials. So, what are possible collisions on the way to the single bill of materials?. So, let’s take design, engineering and manufacturing bills. When I look on opposite sidesdesign and manufacturing, the purpose, and as a result, how these bills look like. Design bill started from CAD and, obviously, take as a starting point, design structure. So, we can get very structured bill of material. As opposite, manufacturing bill of material foundation is manufacturing process. The levels of manufacturing bill are driven by manufacturing process definitions, stocking and other elements of manufacturing process. What is the role of engineering bill? Do we need it?

If I’m looking from the perspective of needs, it looks like engineering bill is not needed (wait for a moment, don’t kill me now :)). Design Bill provides information about how my product structured. Manufacturing Bill provides information how my product will be assembled (or build). However, I found distance between these structures / views is a huge, connection between them is not obvious. This is, in my view, place where product lifecycle technologies need to be focused – to step beyond pure design or manufacturing structures to engineering level and build lean engineering bill of material that will become master BOM in the organization.

What are the advantages of such approach? Master Engineering Bill will be able to connect design elements, especially those that related to custom manufacturing and will provide set of configurable modules. Master Engineering bill will support different techniques to create a conditionbased structures and many others. From Manufacturing side, engineering bill will get required information about Item MastersDifferent elementsdesign and manufacturing, will be interconnected in this engineering bill, so no more missing parts or impossible product options.

What are the disadvantages of such approach? I see two major problemsneed to build unified data structure and synchronization work between department and people. The multiple bill of material approach solves problems of people collaboration and communication. Each department has their own bill, they are working on. The problem is in the endmissing parts on the shopfloor, missed dates or high product cost. In order to support, single Engineering Master Bill of Material, we need to find right technologies that allow to people to work simultaneously on different pieces of this bill, synchronize, change, update. This collective bill of material should be supported by PLM technologies looking on how to collaborate between design and manufacturing.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg

Do We Have Enough Maps in PLM?

October 19, 2009

For many years Maps are one of the most popular ways to interact with the environment. In my view, thinking in terms of a map is something that makes people clearer understand the situation. I think, integration of maps in computer systems was very slow until two fundamental events happened – 1/ popularization of GPS and location devices, 2/ combination of search and map. Today, I hardly can imaging our computer interfaces without a map option.

I’ve been thinking about possible implementation of Maps in Product Lifecycle Management. Actually, my first thoughts wasWhy do we need it? PLM Is not GPS – we don’t need to map directions etc .. However, second thinking was different. I see mapbased user interface can be very powerful from many aspects:

1. We are working in a global environment. Connection between people is very important. I think, people feel better connected when they see themselves on the map. So, by integrating map services in collaboration you can improve communication.

2. Activity of manufacturing companies is also very GEO oriented. To be able to project various data on the map can create a very interesting user experience. Sometime, you can see trends that you can hardly see without the map user interface. For example, by projecting reported problem in your product onto the map, you can discover country/GEO based problems in your product design or maintenance. Actually, I can see many additional cases.

Playing around a map topic, I found an interesting serviceMaker. Maker allows you to create interactive maps with embedding a lot of additional data. I found it as a pretty cool service. Actually, this service is featuring in a very good way a potential in Map based user experience.

Picture 2

Of, course Maker is not the only one. And I’m not getting to analyze all use cases Google Map has today. However, I want to share this with you and ask – do you see use cases for Mapbased user experience in your Product Lifecycle Management implementations? Does it make sense? Can it improve user adoption? Collaboration?

Please, let me know what do you think?

Best, Oleg

PLM Collaboration on Steroids – Google Shared Folders

October 16, 2009

When I discussed a cloud options for PLM yesterday in my article, I mentioned that a very significant opportunity comes in ability to share and collaborate on the product related content (drawings, models, bills) when using cloud models. This option comes as a pathway for those companies and people that have a concern to store overall product IP on cloud storage.

So, latest feature introduced by Google DocsShared Folders is the best example of cloud based technology to implement collaboration approach. Actually, I think PLM vendors need to take a very careful look on such capabilities of Google Docs. I do see an option when many of the smaller customers will be able to use Share Folders in their current configuration to facilitate document exchange and collaboration with suppliers and across the enterprise.

A very good review of Google Shared Folders is here.
What do you think? Do you see it practical and useful for day-to-day collaboration?

Best, Oleg

3D Perspectives: How Can You Hear The Voice of Your Customers?

October 15, 2009

My new post on 3D Perspectives:

How Can You Hear The Voice of Your Customers?


Best, Oleg

Cloud of Data – can it work for PLM?

October 15, 2009

data-cloudI’m continuing to explore a world of cloud for PLM. Today, I want to take and discuss a direction which looks for me very promising as advanced collaboration capabilities. Yes, we are very aware about a concern many companies have with regards to placement of their IP on cloud/ internet. However, on the other side, there is lots of product information that disclosed and becomes public anyway. When a company releases their products to the market, it stops becoming a secret. Also, companies are very often disclosing data for purposes of collaboration with external partners and customers.

So, why we cannot be use cloud platform for these purposes? Yes, I think, we can. I had chance to see videos of Factual company focuses on the creation repository of open data. Pretty cool, it reminds our lovely Microsoft Excels, but on cloud. I see these are potential services for engineers, marketers and sales people in the company to collaborate and share data they need.

factualHow To Create a Table With Factual on Howcast

I have to say, Factual is not the only company trying to do so.I can point on Freemix project by Zepheira, Freebase and some others.

What is my conclusion today? I think cloud storage of data will continue to growth. Its up to PLM vendors to explore potential opportunity and way to use it for customer benefits.

Best, Ole


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 290 other followers