BOMs in general whether they are manufacturing, or engineering contain all the components necessary to make a finished product and comprise the core building blocks of the product. However, too often BOMs are managed across multiple systems by engineering and manufacturing teams.
A lot of professionals work in teams, and as a result challenges are inevitable. For engineering teams more so in the electrical and electronics industry to produce quality products, they require “as-designed bill of materials”. It is no surprise that to get quality products in today’s market requires consistent and clear collaboration which as mentioned before can only be achieved through a BOM.
Thanks to Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and Big data, electronic parts search engines like oemsecrets.com have enabled OEMs, EMS, CMs to use automated EBOM and stop their reliance on manual processes or siloed tools that often lead to uncertainty and confusion in the supply chain and production teams.
What is an Engineering Bill of Materials?
An engineering bill of materials is used to defines the design of the finished engineering product. It is specific to the design and will not necessarily list all the electronic components needed to ensure the manufacturing goes 100% smoothly and this sometimes falls short if not kept in check. A good project manager should provide support documents highlighting specifications, tolerance and standards expected for the product design.
Typically, all manufactured products will start with an EBOM to avoid delays in the overall manufacturing cycle.
Why is an Engineering BOM so Important?
From our engineering background and years of experience working with electrical and electronic engineers and embed systems engineers we highlighted that even though electronic OEM BOMs exhibit best-in-class manufacturing standards, are reliable for repeat business and near perfect material control they sometimes fall short. Recent examples include gaming consoles, mobile phone project have ended up being delayed for months because of guess what, delays in product development which we can probably say was caused by in accurate bill of materials.
Another example of why EBOM are important is if a part being used in a design becomes obsolete the product will need to be replaced and this could alter the electronic design automation (EDA) and CAD drawings since the alternative might have different dimensions need extra power and cause other parts to be swapped for others. e.g., Changing from a 2N3904 transistor to a 2N2222 by Multicomp. This will cause a domino effect in the production process.
A manufacturing BOM enables the product to be turned from concept to prototype and eventually transition to a physical product and therefore, creating an accurate bill of materials is vital because it ensures that parts are available just in time when needed as well as supplementing and ensuring that the assembly of product goes efficiently.
If for some reason it’s not accurate, production will stop, which reduces the profit margins by increased operation costs. The cost will increase because:
- Procurement or purchasing engineer will need time to locate missing parts,
- Machines will be idle and if they are idle they aren’t producing good and thus nor stock to sell,
- Manpower cost is still is being paid, until the correct process of assembly is determined,
- If services have been contracted to an EMS then you have to book another production order.
This is why EBOMs are important as they can be shown in a hierarchical way i.e., the finished product at the top, down to individual components and materials.
BOM management challenges
In the past 5 years, we have seen BOM evolve from manual to intelligent cloud based structured systems like what we mentioned in the introduction. The improvement of technology and also the integration with Internet of Things technology has improved our ability as decision makers become more efficient in the way we work.
Unfortunately, no single bill of material is proof enough to be used independently for production as they all have their weaknesses. Therefore, many companies leveraged more than one BOM type.
Here is a list of the common challenges of BOM management:
- Production of Out-of-specification items
- Purchasing dilemmas
- Configuration management in regard to maintenance and service
- Product recall
- Maintaining up-to-date information
If the above challenges are corrected, which often are by good collaboration and automated BOM then the common term of “Nobody owns the BOM” will cease.
Article researched and written by electronic components online team