BoM Transformation – Product Lifecycle Data is Created in Engineering

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Mikael Johansson
BoM Management in PTC Windchill
BoM Management in PTC Windchill

Product lifecycle data is created within in engineering, manufacturing, marketing, IT, service and sales. Imagine how diverse this data is and imagine how quickly it changes, grows and evolves.

This lifecycle data is in many organizations captured in a product’s BoM (Bill of Material). Since there are many different stakeholders it also means that the BOM is used and adapted by many different people throughout the product’s lifecycle. If you, as a stakeholder are not able to use your PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system to conduct tasks like access upstream deliverables – the processes and data management become extremely fragmented and ineffective.

Efficient BoM Management

In order to secure that organizations do not become ineffective, or end up with fragmented data, they can optimize the use of the BoM in a way that enables organizations to realize a complete digital product definition. A digital product definition essentially configures, manages and stores all product-related content – from final assembly structures to individual components – into a single, central repository. As a result, everyone across the enterprise can easily and instantly access the same product information.

So how do you go about this, what prerequisites and the questions you need to ask yourself?

  • How do you look at a product and the product structure?
  • What information do you need to manage and maintain in your product model?
  • And, what information does your downstream consumers need to find and reuse from this product structure?

As described above, there are several stakeholders and your answer will depend on your role and function.

If you are a Design Engineer, your priority is on “What do we need to produce?”, and you then focus on Form, Fit and Function of the product.

On the other hand, if you are a Manufacturing Engineer. What’s important for you is “How do we produce this product”, in order to meet cost, time and quality requirements.

And if you are a Service Engineer. Your focus is on “How do we service this product”.

If you try to capture all of the above requirements that come out of the questions above into one single BoM, you know that this will eventually end up causing problems, and you will get a product structure that is not suitable for anybody.

Manage Multiple BoM´s

So, we need to be able to manage “Multiple BoM’s”. Disconnected systems and processes are still very common in many organizations. For example, the EBOM’s is managed in PLM systems, and the mBOM is managed in ERP or MPS systems, or even separately on spreadsheets
And with this we have challenges with:

  • Disconnected teams
  • Difficulties to control of planning information
  • Separate processes and standards
  • Lack of standards.

And eventually this will lead to product delays and errors. And poor product quality. Our advice after working, analyzing this area for several years, with several 100’s of customers is to:

  • Integrate your product data onto a single, integrated PLM system
  • Connect and associate your EBOM and MBOM
  • Evolve your Manufacturing Process Management capabilities
  • Leverage your design investment throughout your business

Do you miss your market window due to product delays? Do you have higher than needed development costs due to errors in the product? Or maybe you experience product recalls due to poor quality?

These challenges do not necessarily have to relate to the way you are managing your BOM’s, but we would encourage you to analyze it and see if fragmented data and ineffectiveness can be traced back to your BOM management.

BoM Management in PTC Windchill (PLM)

I have engaged in a multitude of PLM projects with many different customers with different BoM challenges. In my opinion I would say that with its depth, breadth and ease of use PTC Windchill is the leading PLM systems in the market today.

Best regards
Mikael Johansson, Senior PLM Consultant

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