BOM 101: Preliminary Product Structures and Part Numbers

February 1, 2013

I want to continue my BOM 101 thoughts and speak about working with Bill of Materials during early stages of product development. Engineers are using multiple sources of information to create an initial Bill of Materials. The initial BOM structure can come from CAD system, other BOMs developed earlier and also created from scratch. One of the important steps during this process is to assign Part Numbers as early as possible.

Part Numbers (PN) and development lifecycle process

Initial PN allocation plays a key role in overall product development process. From the moment we assign Part Numbers, the status of product development can be tracked by the Item Lifecycle mechanism. Newly created PN are obviously getting "development" status. However, measurement of time lapsed since PN assignment until Item actually entered into BOM and later until specification document becomes available will allow you to follow process of development on the very early stage.

Par Number and PLM/ERP integration

Part Number assignment requires some degree of system integration. The easiest way to get things done is to manage PN in your PLM systems. However, a reality is different. Very often, item master is managed by ERP system or another data management system. It can be also home grown database that historically keeps record of Item masters and allocate Part numbers. So, to integrate these systems will be extremely important to manage Items lifecycle in the company.

What is my conclusion? It is very important to have item lifecycle started at the very early stage of product development. Unfortunately, very often companies are postponing this step because of the integration complexity. PLM/ERP integration project is starting on the late phase of PDM/PLM implementation. Internal company politics are adding an additional level of complexity to this decision. It takes weeks or even monts to decide where to manage Item Masters. A significant portion of product cost is defined during early stage of the development. To have early BOM/PN visibility can optimize the process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

BOM and CAD-PDM-PLM-ERP Integration Challenges

November 3, 2011

BOM-in-CAD-PDM-PLM-ERPI want to talk about Bill of Material and integration today. The reason why I’m coming to this topic is largely because I have a feeling “integration” will play a significant role in the future of product lifecycle management and enterprise systems in general. Two days ago, I’ve been writing about two approaches “unification” and “integration” in PLM. One of the main reasons why, I think, CAD/PLM companies decided to focus on “unification” is a struggle with integration. Time ago it started from integration between CAD and PDM. Since then, multiple other topics were added to the story of integration between multiple systems. So, one of the objectives companies put in front of them investing into unification was to simplify deployment of integrated systems.

BOM and Integrations

What I learned from multiple integration projects I’ve been involved for the last 10 years? Bill of Materials is the central piece of every integration story. The majority of integration topics are around how to handle BOM during all scenarios. The processes and implementation practices related to Bill of Materials are impacting in a significant way how a company will operate multiple systems (CAD, PDM, PLM, ERP).

Interesting enough, Bill of Material is also a centerpiece of all battles around how manage product data in various forms in multiple systems. It comes in a form of BOM synchronization between systems, definition of multiple BOM views, Product representations and many others. After thinking about possible integration scenarios, I’d like to come with three main challenges that exist in most of the integration projects (in most of the cases regardless on what systems are involved) – BOM Transfer, Item Data Synchronization and Single Bill of Material representation.

Integration Challenges

Challenge 1: BOM Transfer

This is a very complicated topic. Bill of Materials are everywhere. Drawings, CAD Systems, Engineering databases, ERP and Manufacturing systems. Even sales configurations requires a certain representation of BOM. The top waste, people want to eliminate is a need to entering information manually from one system to another system. Therefore, to automate the transfer is No.1 priority for many integration projects. However, it requires mapping of data and a lot of “hand-wiring”.

Challenge 2: How to keep Item Data in Sync

Item information (or how ERP-related people saying Item Master) is a second important topic for the integration. In most of the companies, it is originated and maintained by ERP/MRP systems. However, when company is moving more towards cross-functional processes, the need to have item master information replicated and, sometime originated outside of ERP system, is growing.

Challenge 3: Where is my single BOM?

This is of the most challenging topic. Lots of companies are spending tons of time trying to decide how to maintain different flavors of BOMs in multiple systems, how to synchronize it and how to define what is the “ultimate single BOM”. Some of the companies are taking a different approach and starting to manage so called “multiple BOM”. Time ago, I spent some time discussing these topics. Read the following two blog post I published before: Is it a time for synchronized BOM? and Non-linear BOM perspective. Companies are spending lots of resources trying to find what is the right BOM management strategy. Lots of tools (including customized tools) are focusing on how to maintain bill of materials handling across multiple representations (aka systems).

What is my conclusion? BOM is a centerpiece of everything. You may lose control of 3D drawings’ versions and do everything in 2D. You can maintain change tracking manually. You may decide not to manage requirements. However, in my view, you cannot lose the control of items and bill of materials. As the number of systems involved into this process is growing, the complexity of keeping BOM under control becomes and more complicated. Many companies are avoiding management of Bill of Materials in multiple systems just because of this reason. As, one of my readers mentioned earlier this week – “you rarely can satisfy all your needs with a single system“. So, I’m expecting more “integration challenges” in coming years from implementing CAD, PDM, PLM, ERP in various flavors and combinations. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

SolidWorks World 2009 is Ready for PLM!

February 5, 2009

SolidWorks World 2009 in coming to Orlando next week and I’m preparing to blog about this. And, yes… I’d like to start a discussion about how the SolidWorks community is ready for PLM. Compared to many SolidWorks visualization tools, many customers find PLM and anything to do with data management just plain booooring… But if you take another minute and think about it a bit more, you might think differently… We are in an economical downturn. This is a perfect time to show some additional areas of focus rather than concentrating only on the newest and latest set of SolidWorks features. That’ s not to say that features aren’t interesting – I am sure they are all great and will be perfectly delivered by my colleagues from DS SolidWorks Corp.  What I am saying is that this is an opportunity to leave features alone for a bit, and speak more about PLM.

 PLM can help you practically to get better control over the cost of the products you design and manufacture. I’m sure that you know that 80% of the product cost is defined during the design phase. You can establish the right environment in which you control design, engineering and manufacturing information at the same time in the PLM system. This is possible by supporting Item Masters and multiple Bill of Materials. As soon as you will be able to produce an engineering and manufacturing BOM, and visually compare and synchronize changes, you will be able to optimize your product cost during the design time, since you will already be taking manufacturing and supply chain information into consideration.

 Imagine that you can access the engineering and manufacturing Bill of Materials directly from your SolidWorks environment, collaborate together with manufacturing planning engineers on the same Bill of Material structure, and optimize your changes together. PLM tools will allow you to work in cycles together with your engineering and manufacturing colleagues. At the end of the design phase, you will have a “ready for production” Bill of Materials. You will be able to get rid of all the excel spreadsheets you are using today to produce multiple Bill of Materials. These will be replaced with tools integrated into SolidWorks. You can see some examples of SmarTeam PLM interfaces with SolidWorks bellow.

Multiple Bill Of Material Editor

multiple bom editor

Compare Design to Manufacturing Bill of Material in SolidWorks.

Design to Engineering BOM compare in SolidWorks Environment

 I hope this has sparked your. I will keep blogging on these topics during the next week, live from SolidWorks World, and look forward to seeing you all next week in Orlando. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good weather (compared to what I’ve been experiencing lately in Boston, Mass :)).




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