Vacation is a great time to work :). Finally, you can have time to think about variety of topics that you are missing during your workdays. Here is the one I picked today – multiple bill of materials and synchronization. For those of you in PDM / PLM space even for few years, this topic and question is not new. The traditional approach in many PDM and PLM implementation is to have multiple data representations to describe product structure and data in different phases (Design, Manufacturing, Built) as well as in various configurations. It is often called multiple bill of materials (multiple BOMs).
The problem the implementation of multiple BOMs creates is related to the fact you need to synchronize it. Think about making pictures with your digital camera these days. You can make pictures, sync it to your computer, backup for storage, convert it with different resolutions and processing techniques, sync it to your social net accounts, share with people. This process is much simpler than decide about some product with few configurations, manufacturing in multiple places. Nevertheless, I’m sure you most probably hate it. How many pictures you lost during this process? I’m sure the number is large enough, products like instagram and some others can continue to innovate in this place.
The synchronization logic is a killer
The synchronization itself is not a big problem. When it simple takes data from one place and put it in another place. Think about emails. Finally, (after many years) we succeeded to synchronize emails between online and offline locations. The logic of this synchronization is simple – yes/no + date. However, addition of devices can immediately make this problem complicated. Therefore, Apple had a disaster with mobile.me and continue to struggle with iCloud. The situation with multiple BOMs is much more complicated. Product structure is not simple, the logic of transformation is complex. We end up in the process that has no chance to succeed rather than require super skills and super intelligence.
What is my conclusion? Synchronization complexity is a killer. PLM industry is probably near the dead end in our effort to improve "synchronization". The process of synchronization is painful, cumbersome and creates lots of additional "process complexities". The new methods need to follow data referencing techniques. It doesn’t mean data is located in a single place. I can synchronize it for different purposes between multiple locations. However, logic of synchronization cannot be dependent on people. It is very complex and won’t work for a long run. I didn’t talk much about actually Bill of Materials. It will be a topic for one more blog. I’m looking forward to your comments. For now, you can enjoy few photos that I successfully synced between iPhone, my computer and the cloud.