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BOM BuilderMost small and mid-size businesses SMBs start with their product bill of materials BOM in Excel spreadsheets — why should you be any different? Excel is a well-known, flexible application that everyone has — It is easy and it is essentially free. Small companies can make it through the first release of a new product just fine using Excel to manage product data. But when companies release more products, grow internally or add more manufacturing and outsourcing partners, the act of managing an Excel bill of materials becomes much bigger and more complex. Those seemingly simple problems can impact you in big ways when you least expect it. The first problem most companies have with their Excel BOM is identifying which file is the latest revision and whether that revision is correct. Even if you limit who can change the BOM by locking the Excel file or storing it in a read-only server folder, once people copy the file onto their desktops, the Excel bill of materials can be easily modified and emailed to different people both inside and outside your company. The next problem occurs when two or more products share components. Purchasing can negotiate better volume pricing if they know which components are used in more than one product and are able to calculate the higher inventory requirements. But searching through an Excel bill of material to identify common part numbers is tedious and slow. The task becomes more complicated if a component has been assigned different part numbers in different places, which is a common problem when no easily accessible master parts list exists. Companies often try to solve that problem by adding complexity into their Excel spreadsheet BOMs. They use tactics like item master tabs, lookup formulas, cross-referenced spreadsheets and Visual Basic programming — especially if they have an Excel guru on staff. This works as long as your Excel master keeps the connections up to date so they correctly fill in the cells. But this person is now also a single point of failure in an intricate web of files. The BOM management process is in his or her head and buried in the details of an unknown number of hidden tabs on countless spreadsheets. For product companies working with distributed teams and supply chain partners, collaborating on the latest bill of materials BOM is critical to reduce production errors and shipping delays. BOM management challenges such as change, revision and compliance management. Communication issues with project teams, suppliers and contract manufacturers. Comparison of manual vs. These are common problems when using Excel to manage product bills of materials, and they generally cause pains that are all too familiar, such as wasted time and unnecessary scrap and rework. But during a new product introduction NPIyou can become bleary-eyed from spending hours looking over endless rows and columns of data, trying to make sure everything matches up correctly, before releasing your product to production. You thought Excel was free, but you pay when people spend time looking for the needle-sized error that ruins a product launch instead of doing more productive work. The time wasted on these annoyingly tedious tasks is hard to track, so the true cost of it is often not known. In recent years several well-known brands have been deeply tarnished when their response to design problems did not meet the expectations of their customers. There are alternatives to managing your product bill of materials in fragile, formula-laden Excel spreadsheets that are duplicated across server folders and email inboxes. There are bill of materials software systems that have been designed to manage bills of materials and the changes that happen to them. These tools allow all users access to the same set of product data, which reduces both the duplication of parts across products and the duplication of spreadsheet BOM files. All users, internal and external, can see the current product revision. You just use a tool that is easy and powerful. The following chart compares Excel BOMs with a modern BOM management system, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses and details of each when it comes to managing bills of materials:. You may feel that you need to stick with Excel for a little while longer, but now is the time to plan ahead for the switch to real BOM control. There are simple and smart things to do that will improve your current processes as well as prepare you for moving off Excel BOMs to a bill of materials management system. When transferring your data from Excel to a BOM management system, the information will be transferred based on rules that you set. When your BOMs are in consistent formats then the information transfer is easily programmed. A human can see that these names represent the same thing, but a computer only knows that when someone tells it so. When you are consistent in the naming of your columns across all BOM Excel spreadsheets then a rule only needs to be set up once.
Bill of Materials Examples and Samples for Download
In Arena PLM, part data and sourcing information are linked together so users can quickly view the manufacturing information for each item on a BOM. Enlarge image. Regardless of whether you use Excel spreadsheets or a cloud-based bill of materials product, your BOMs must contain complete and accurate information in order to be useful in building quality products. The BOM spreadsheet examples below and the Arena article on managing your bills of materials in Excel provide valuable information to help keep your BOMs in control. Taking a step-by-step approach and getting buy-in from all stakeholders when putting a new tool in place will help ensure a smooth, successful implementation. Implementing product lifecycle management PLM is no different. This article provides six tips for manufacturers that are considering using a PLM software system or are ready to move forward with a PLM implementation. To properly manage the BOM, most organizations select a BOM software management tool to help ensure the most current product revisions are seen by all members of the production team. Scrap and rework costs are a manufacturing reality impacting organizations across all industries and product lines. Contact Us Login Get Demo. Get Demo. Introduction Manufacturers rely on the information that is included in the bill of materials BOM to build a product. The bill of materials typically includes part names, part numbers, part revisions and the quantities required to build an assembly. Thorough BOMs can include more descriptive information too, for example, the …. Thorough BOMs can include more descriptive information too, for example, the unit of measure or procurement type. To manage what can be a tremendous amount of information, companies often use either Excel spreadsheets or a dedicated BOM management system like Arena PLM. Below are examples of how a bill of materials for a GPS navigation product would look in each system. Excel Spreadsheet Examples of Bills of Materials BOMs The great thing about using spreadsheets for your bill of materials is that they are flexible and can be formatted however you like. It contains BOM level, part number, part name, revision, quantity and reference designators. It is helpful to have unit of measure and BOM notes on a bill of materials as well. The first line, with a BOM level of zero, is the top-level product or assembly to which everything else in the bill of materials reports. When your top-level product or assembly information level zero is included in the header, it should not be repeated below. The items in your BOM should now start with level one. Enlarge image Example of an Excel Bill of Materials with Graphic Representation of Assembly Level Users can quickly scan bills of materials and understand where particular parts are located when each level is denoted with a marker e. The numerical BOM level is included too. With the correct Excel formula, this number can automate the placement of the visual marker in the correct column.
Bill of Materials Tools
Chefs create recipes. BOMs are usually broken up into several categories, according to engineering areas of responsibility AoRs. Categorization makes it easy for you, your colleagues, and vendors to find what they need in your BOM. Within each category, you can further organize your BOM by cost. Electronics manufacturers typically charge you a margin on all components they source for you, however the cost to source expensive chips and low-priced components screws is not that different. You can negotiate with the manufacturer for a lower margin on higher priced items over a certain threshold. Thanks, Dragon Innovation! In your BOM, the part number is the foremost identifier of the part, with a secondary text description to help with human readability. For example, a screw and a resistor entered into the system adjacent to each other will be parts and The other system is an intelligent system, with the part number denoting what type of part it is. This is more human-readable, but as the types of parts in your master part library increases, you need to continuously make new categories and define new rules. When you make changes to a part or switch out a component, you need to update the BOM, which becomes a new version of the document. For example:. Before you get ready to do a pre-production build, have all the engineers review the latest BOM together, then lock down this version for the build and communicate its version number to the manufacturing partner. To save time when you first build a BOM, make use of software features you may already be using for development. Did I mention free? However, building a parts library in Altium can be a lot of work. There are many people involved in building a hardware product. A BOM is a critical communication document that gets engineers, procurers, and manufacturers on the same page. Main navigation What is Fictiv? Written by Sylvia Wu. Breadcrumb HWG Plan. For example: Before you get ready to do a pre-production build, have all the engineers review the latest BOM together, then lock down this version for the build and communicate its version number to the manufacturing partner. Main Takeaways There are many people involved in building a hardware product. Was this article helpful? Help us by sharing. Last page. Here at Mindtribe, I regularly meet with teams excited to turn their fledgling product concept into a physical reality. Previous page. Up Next.