PLM, CMMS and BOM Hot Potato


There is no person in manufacturing universe that can underestimate the importance of right Bill of Material information. However, I can see people responsible for material management in a special league for the context of material management and BOM.

Doug Wallace of Life Cycle Engineering ( speaks exactly about that in his article The importance of an equipment BOM. I found this writeup quite interesting. Here is the passage that defines the importance of BOM:

The main purpose of the materials management organization is to provide the "right parts in the right quantities at the right time." But where do those material requirements come from? Whether or not demand is predictable, whether the materials are for production or maintenance, the requirements are usually generated from a bill of material (BOM). Without a complete and accurate BOM, decisions regarding material planning and replenishment are often made in a vacuum, resulting in excess inventory, stockouts, expediting charges and expensive downtime.

At the same time, I can see a question here – where is that material requirements and BOM information is coming from? Where is this accurate Bill of Material is located? PLM system is one potential candidate alongside with more traditional MRP/ERP system. I debated this topic last year in my article – Will PLM management enterprise BOM? Shaun Snapp of smfocus has an interesting perspective of separate system taking care of all Bill of Materials management aspects. He debates it on his BOM blog here.

Doug’s article made me think about confusion in the way different systems represents and required data related to Bill of Material management. For example, article provides a detailed information about what information should be on (E)BOM – Part Number, Description, Quantity, UoM, Manufacturer, MPN, Supplier related information including Supplier’s Part Number.

This information can be managed by PLM/BOM solution as well as PDM solution combined with design system. I’m sure Excel spreadsheet from engineering department can provide it as well. Since the context of discussion is maintenance and CMMS, the information can come from ERP/MRP system. In my view, the confusion comes even in the name – EBOM. Some people can think about (Engineering)BOM, another group can think about (Equipment)BOM as it was presented in the article. I’m sure some computer geeks can think about (Electronic)BOM too :). Article summary provides some hints on the engineering roots for the BOM as well as importance of collaboration beyond silos:

As a rule, the RE is primarily responsible for providing initial EBOM information and all engineering-driven changes. The planner is responsible for ensuring EBOM accuracy. But the key to overall EBOM effectiveness is to recognize that data creation and maintenance is a collaborative process that requires teamwork and communication.

What is my conclusion? In my view, there is a confusion around BOM ownership and responsibilities of providing a correct BOM information. The level of fragmentation of BOM information is too high. Organization is often handle BOM as a "hot potato" changing hands of different organizations and finally thrown over the manufacturing wall. It introduces a problem that future lead to higher product product cost, expensive maintenance and operation. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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