BoM management: the way to a smoother product lifecycle

Managing a Bill of Materials (BoM) is increasingly important to keep product costs under control and to move a product smoothly from design to production. But how do you best manage that, if you know that the design and production department often have different BoMs?

The manufacturing industry has become an increasingly complex environment, where different suppliers and stakeholders are often involved in the development of a product. Collaboration, for both production and development, is increasingly happening on a global scale, thanks to a variety of digital tools. At the same time, both the design and production departments are experiencing increasing pressure to realize a shorter time to market, to be more flexible towards the customer, and to keep costs under control.

Manage Bill of Materials (BoM)

Central to this problem is the management of a Bill of Materials (BoM). This lists all raw materials, sub-assemblies and other things that contribute to the cost of an end product. Within the context of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), two important BoMs are usually referred to: the Engineering BoM (EBoM) and the Manufacturing BoM (MBoM). Both are inseparable.

The EBoM is drawn up during the development phase of a product and shows how a product is functionally put together, and how all components together form an end product. The MBoM contains all the parts needed to make a complete, shipable end product during the production phase. An MBoM often also contains things that cannot be found in the EBoM, such as packaging or accessories.

From EBoM to MBoM

The purpose of a BoM is to be able to produce efficiently and quickly. A BoM makes it possible to streamline the entire chain from design to end product in such a way that no time is lost or unnecessary steps in the development or production process have to be done.

Smooth transfer from EBoM to MBoM is essential here. Unfortunately, things sometimes go wrong there, partly due to increased complexity, poor cooperation between departments, or poor communication. Very often projects are given from development to production without thinking. In this way, errors end up in the BoM, which can lead to an incorrectly estimated production cost, a shortage of human resources, poorly matched inventories, production delays, unnecessary overhaul cycles, and so on.

Collaboration is key

The solution largely lies in better cooperation between development and production. More specifically, the development department must involve the production department as early as possible in the process. In this way, the production schedule can be made on time and checked for feasibility. Production planning can often seem feasible on paper, but in reality, for example, not every newly purchased machine will immediately achieve the expected performance.

Better cooperation also means that the EBoM and MBoM must be aligned with each other as early as possible. The way an engineering department looks at planned production often differs from the vision of a production department. Ideally, EBoM and MBoM are therefore set up in parallel. The preparation of the MBoM does not necessarily have to wait for the completion of the EBoM, but both are developed simultaneously and continuously coordinated centrally.

BoM management with Windchill

This continuous interaction between EBoM and MBoM requires intensive communication. This can only run smoothly if the necessary systems and tools are provided for this. That in turn is the task of a PLM system such as Windchill, with which you can do a complete BoM Management. Windchill is intended to provide a complete understanding of the cost, quality and planning aspects of all components and operations that determine the life cycle of a product. It gives multidisciplinary and often geographically dispersed teams secure access to all necessary data, which can significantly improve collaboration between those teams.

With software such as Windchill, the design and production departments can make adjustments to their respective BoM, but the links between both BoMs are constantly maintained. This ensures that any changes made to the design of a product are immediately communicated to the production department, and that the consequences of such changes are immediately known.

Would you like to know more about the benefits of Windchill or PLM? Contact us for free advice.