PLM and Zero BOM errors: the devil is in details

September 10, 2014

zero-bom-errors

To manage Bill of Materials (BOM) is not a simple job. Often you can hear a simple definition of bill of material as a "list of component needed to build a product". However, in reality, BOM is much more complex and contains information about product structure, the ways product is manufactured, maintained and even disposed. The variety of requirements coming from multiple departments make BOM a complex information entity. Because of diversity of disciplines, organizations and tools BOM traditionally managed as a separate structures related to design, engineering, manufacturing, support, supply chain, etc. Mistakes in Bill of Material management are costly and painful to companies. It can lead to wrong material orders, shipment delays, regulation issues and many other problems.

My attention was caught by few examples of PLM vendors emphasizing their ability to support "zero BOM errors" in their BOM management solutions.

First example came from Dassault Systems ENOVIA. Navigate to my post – PLM, demolished silos and closed BOM loop. You can get more information also in recent Razorleaf blog covering ENOVIA conference here. According to ENOVIA, errors are coming from synchronization or design and engineering BOM. Therefore "zero file solution" strategy developed by Dasasult System ENOVIA will lead to zero BOM problems. Here is a passage from both articles:

The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”.

Dassault spent significant time at the event returning to the theme of the business benefits of ENOVIA, describing a “Power of Zero” mantra across ENOVIA’s capabilities (for example, “Target Zero BOM Errors”). ENOVIA CEO Andy Kalambi offered a nice overview of how these “Power of Zero” themes connect the direction of the ENOVIA product line with the business needs of ENOVIA’s customers.

Second example came from Arena Solutions case study – How Nutanix Reduced BOM Errors to Absolute Zero. You can download case study for free by registering on the website. Interesting enough, the problem of "Zero BOM errors" is completely different here. It speaks to collaboration and access of BOM by multiple people in a team or even different organizations suppliers. Here is an interesting quote from case study that outlines that:

“Our suppliers now access the same BOM and revision, and we have had zero wrong BOMs built since the system was implemented. Configuration integrity is assured… Change management was a nightmare,” said Sangster. “With several people making changes and suggestions to uncontrolled documents there were multiple revisions of the same BOM flying around the ether. No one had any trust in the data, so many local copies abounded based on the ‘mine is right’ premise.”

The devil is in details. When you plan how to implement BOM management, you need to work on multiple use cases. Bill of Material has multiple point of failures. I mentioned two in my post today – 1/ synchronization between design and engineering/PLM tools; 2/ collaboration and change management scenarios. I can see many other use cases. When you plan a solution, it is important to focus on a specific problem you want to handle. At the same time, when vendor speaks to you about "Zero BOM error", don’t hesitate to ask questions. Same buzzwords mean different things sometimes.

What is my conclusion? BOM management is a complex domain. It is hard to underestimate the value of having correct BOM without error. BOM errors are costly and to manage consistency of BOM is one of the most important objectives of PLM solutions. At the same time, BOM has multiple points of failure. This is a note to PLM implementers and IT people to focus on important scenarios and not to take "Zero BOM mantra" as silver bullet that solves all problems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Thoughts about PLM whitepapers and PLM processes

March 28, 2013

Are you reading whitepapers these days? Hmm… Not much you can say, probably. I’m reading blogs, twitter streams and use Flipboard app. I think, whitepapers are getting into a crisis similar to publishing industry. It is not as popular as IBM Redbooks 10 years ago. PLM whitepapers are interesting in particular. Very often, whitepapers are sponsored by vendors and, as a result of this, lose their attractiveness. You still can learn from them, but the scale is limited by the commitment of an author to a specific vendor(s). Another class of whitepapers are presenting research made by analyst or research firm. These whitepapers are interesting from the standpoint of learning data, but also can be limited.

I’ve been reading Razorleaf’s whitepaper Achievable PLM by Jonathan Scott. The following link will give you an access to the whitepaper in exchange of your email and phone number. Razorleaf is a business outfit focusing on PLM services without much focus on what vendor, product, technology to use. Take few minutes coming weekend and read the whitepaper. I found the following part of the whitepaper the most important to me. It helps customers to identify company and product development processes to be supported by a PLM system. It defines 3 main processes that you can find almost in every manufacturing company – NPD / NDPI, ECO/ECN/ECR and CM/BOM. Here is the passage from whitepaper:

Do you have a process for dreaming up new products and turning them into something that can be made? Formally, some people call this New Product Development & Introduction (NPD or NPDI).

Do you have a process for changing the design of existing products to fix problems that you or your customers discover, and to improve your product so that more people will buy it? Many people call this Engineering Change Management (ECx) and there can be numerous subprocesses like Engineering Change Request (ECR), Engineering Change Order (ECO), and Engineering Change Notification (ECN).

Do you have a process for describing the “recipe” for your product, the list of ingredients/components that go together to make up your product? People in defense -related industries have been calling this Configuration Management (CM) for years, but a lot of other industries think of it as Bill-Of-Material (BOM) Management.

It made me think about new type of PLM whitepapers focusing on helping customers to identify their product development processes. That would be a different set of whitepapers. Think about that as a collection of process recipes. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to processes related to product development in manufacturing companies. To have multiple options and viewpoints could be very beneficial if you are implementing PLM.

What is my conclusion? Content is a critical element these days. Whitepaper is an important type of content, in my view. You need to have a good content to drive attention. It seems to me, a good PLM whitepapers can play two important roles – drive traffic to the websites of PLM vendors and service providers, but most importantly – to change the way customer perceive PLM implementations by providing practical information and guidance about PLM-related processes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


SolidWorks PDM Customers Focus on Office. Cloud? Meh…

August 2, 2011

August is a typical vacation time. At least, I was thinking so… Not any more. Today’s news brought me at least two acquisition notices. One from Autodesk about their acquisition of Instructables – a popular online community where people can upload, discuss, rate and collaborate on a wide variety of do-it-yourself (DYI) projects. The second one, maybe less notable compared to Autodesk, but very interesting in the context of PDM and PLM – Razorleaf acquired Office2PDM product from Extensible CAD. Razorleaf is a small outfit in PDM/PLM world providing services focuses on the implementation of design automation, SharePoint, Product Data Management and PLM solutions.

So, what happened? Razorleaf acquired Office2PDM – a suite of products that better connects SolidWorks Enterprise PDM to Microsoft Office products. Read full text of Razorleaf announcement here. Here is the the top quote:

Office2PDM offers a seamless integration between Microsoft Office products and SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (EPDM). EPDM Dashboard provides real-time access to Enterprise PDM vaults, right from Microsoft Outlook, for monitoring the status of documents and workflows.

In a nutshell, Office PDM is for people that are spending their lives in Microsoft Office products. To have an ability to seamlessly accessing EPDM data is important. Take a look on following two videos.

Razorleaf published on their blog an additional information about their intents related to the future of Office2PDM:

Razorleaf plans to extend and enhance EPDM Dashboard and Office2PDM, as we strive to deliver on its pomise of making PLM tools work better for our clients. Office2PDM and EPDM Dashboard are SolidWorks Partner Products, offering one of the highest levels of integration for access to the Enterprise PDM system. The transition from Extensible CAD to Razorleaf should be transparent to existing customers, and a net benefit given Razorleaf’s long history with Enterprise PDM and its predecessor, Conisio.

SolidWorks EPDM and Office

Razorleaf acquisition made me think about some interesting aspects of PDM and PLM implementations related to Microsoft Office. The connection of EPDM and Office is a big deal, in my view. Email and Office are mainstream tools that used by all manufacturing companies implementing SolidWorks and EPDM. Seamless Office integration is a key functionality that expects to be highly demanded by everyone in SolidWorks customer community.

What is my conclusion? There is one question I have not answered reading Razorleaf announcement. What happens with V6 Enovia cloud tools and SolidWorks PDM? SolidWorks n!Fuze is the newest DS SolidWorks product on the cloud. Dassault just released n!Fuze a month ago. n!Fuze supposed to provide a first step into the future of SolidWorks data management and collaboration tool on the cloud. How fast SolidWorks EPDM will be replaced by V6 on the cloud? In my view, Razorleaf is clearly saying – Focus on Office. Cloud? Meh… Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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