Automation of Bill of Materials (BOM) Management
Blog | June 16th, 2023

Automation of Bill of Materials (BOM) Management

A smartphone - sleek, compact, the size of your palm, or slightly larger. The smooth rectangular device made of metal and glass on top! But for the amazing actions one can perform using this device, it has a variety of components hidden between the two surfaces that make it worth the price!

These components and even the adhesive that holds them together are a part of what is called the Bill of Materials (BOM). A smartphone, on average, has around 40 different categories of input parts, 300-400 components and sub-assemblies – which when broken down further adds up to 2000+ materials. The BOM consists of all the raw materials and components needed to make a product and the instructions for how to construct, manufacture, or repair the product. It also includes details on the quantities of each material needed to make the end product.

The BOM is created early in the product development process, once the product specs and its features have been finalized.

Glossary: What is Bill of Materials (BOM)

A Bill of Materials (BOM) is a structured list of components, parts, and materials required to build or assemble a product. It serves as a blueprint for manufacturing and provides detailed information about each item needed, including quantities, descriptions, part numbers, and sometimes even their sources or suppliers. The BOM typically includes both the raw materials and subassemblies necessary for the final product.

Need for Comprehensive Product Data

Bill of Materials (BOM) is a core part of the Comprehensive Product Data-Related Documents that are needed. Other documents include product specification docs, engineering drawings, assembly instructions, testing and quality control requirements, certifications and compliance, packaging and shipping details, service manuals, Bill of Process (BOP), among others.

#7 Reasons Why BOM Management Must be Automated?

BOM Management must be automated for the following reasons:

  • It makes version control and revision management easier
  • Automation with the right tool accelerates product manufacturing process
  • Ease of compliance to regulations
  • Enables better collaboration
  • Integration with Quality processes becomes simpler and more efficient
  • Supply chain integration is easier
  • As product becomes more complex, automation is the only solution
next generation modern plm software

Different BOMs Serve Different Purposes

Bills of materials can be of different types and depend on the type of project and the needs of the business. They can be:

  • Sales BOM that lists the product as ordered by the customer (for instance, a laptop’s Sales BOM may include charging cable, mouse, etc.)
  • Engineering (or Design) BOM describes the product as designed by engineering. It is sometimes called "as-designed bill of materials”.
  • Manufacturing BOM (or MBOM) that contains all the parts and assemblies required to build a complete product.
  • Service BOM lists the serviceable parts (or impacts the service) needed to maintain a product that is in operation

In this blog, we’ll mostly focus on the role of Manufacturing BOMs or MBOMs, and why this process must be automated. We also talk about why automating the BOM management accelerated product manufacturing process and conformance as well. 

Need for BOM in Manufacturing

A Comprehensive BOM should ideally include:

  • Details of all the assemblies and parts necessary for building a product that can be shipped
  • The quantities needed for each of the assemblies
  • Instructions on procuring and using the materials
  • Packaging materials to deliver the finished product to the customer

The creation of a BOM is essential as it is a centralized source that helps the processes downstream to prepare for the manufacture, sales and service of the product. This consolidation of product data improves the efficiency and accuracy of the manufacturing process. It can help with the right pricing of the product as the comprehensive list enables determining the cost of materials and components and planning the budget. It also helps prevent delays by ensuring that everything needed is ready and available in the right quantity. It also helps maintain consistency and standardization while ensuring the quality of the end product.

Sharing the BOM with contract manufacturers in the case of companies that outsource to partners can also ensure improved conformance to specifications. This reduces the chance of costly and time-consuming mistakes, production downtime, or missing deadlines.

An inaccurate BOM can cause delays in production, leading to higher operating costs and delaying time-to-market as missing parts are located and purchased. This will need a fresh production order to be generated.

Depending on the needs of the user, the content of the BOM will vary. It could include the following details:

  • Part number
  • Part name
  • Quantity
  • Unit of measurement
  • Procurement method (Not applicable to Engineering BOM)
  • Assembly references (Not applicable to Engineering BOM)
  • Method of parts construction
  • Additional notes on the processes etc.

The bill of materials is typically presented in a hierarchical format, with the highest level being the final product and the bottom level displaying the individual materials and components.

The BOM can be of a single level, like a shopping list, with just the basic details. Or, it can have multiple levels, establishing the relationship between the various components, sub-assemblies, and assemblies. They are also called indented BOMs as the higher-level part or subassembly is indented. The multi-level also shows a parent-child type of relationship between the assemblies. As a result, any change in one assembly can affect a subassembly. Most complex products require this type of BOM.

Benefits of a Digital BOM Solution

The bill of materials is a wealth of product information but creating it is a complex process. Bill of Materials data is a core part of the comprehensive product data documentation.

Creating and finalizing the BOM requires collaboration between the different functions in the organization, including design, engineering, purchasing, materials management, and manufacturing. The users will also be from these different functions. Therefore, maintaining a centralized BOM becomes essential to keep all the stakeholders of the requirements and any changes to the BOM. In a paper-based or Excel-based system, this can be a challenge.

Creating a BOM with several hundreds or thousands of parts can be a challenge in itself. In case of any part not being available, a replacement or an alternative supplier for the part will have to be found. Any changes made to the BOM based on this must be replicated across the functions impacted by the change.

In case of a product failure, the revision history of digital BOMs gives visibility by providing information on the parts, materials, and components that were used in the design and identifying the potential sources of the failure.

These factors make manual preparation and management of BOMs a challenge. Implementing the right PLM software like ComplianceQuest ProductQuest can be a game-changer, saving critical time, adding efficiency, streamlining the entire process, and setting it up for collaborative decision-making.

ComplianceQuest’s PLM Solution for Effective BOM Management

ComplianceQuest’s Product Quest, PLM and Design Control solution is cloud-based and built on the proven Salesforce platform. The PLM solution enables collaboration between different functions on the platform to design and develop the product by gathering inputs, identifying key features, and building revision-controlled multi-level BOMs.

The BOM is accessible across functions to all authorized users, allowing changes to be made in a centralized document visible to all.  As a result, it reduces errors, improves efficiency, and ensures easy management of BOM with change management and version control. It also integrates with enterprise systems such as ERP and SCM, thereby enabling sharing of the BOM with the supply chain quickly and efficiently. It is also integrated with the CQ EQMS, ensuring quality at every stage of the product life cycle.

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