PLM and the BoM

If one of your objectives is to manage your bills of materials [BoM’s] in you PLM software, there are some things you need to know.

Most of today’s CAD packages will auto-generate a bill of materials.  This means you don’t have to create a drawing and key in a BoM.  One way or the other, there will be a BoM in your CAD application.

Managing the BoM

Within the CAD software, if you create a new drawing it can generate a new BoM or you could manually key in the BoM.  Let the confusion begin – which is the latest released BoM?  How do you know?  Did the person that changed the BoM have the authority to do so?

You could select the document management software associated with your CAD package and it will manage versions for you.  It may even manage permissions.  So, now you have version control but did the change go through any approval process?

The engineering change process is the most expensive process in any manufacturing company.  If you wish to manage that process, your CAD document management software may not be able to.

So, you look to Product Lifecycle Management [PLM] software to manage the task.  Most, if not all, of these packages will manage engineering change control.  The next question is how do you get the BoM from the CAD workstation into the PLM software?  If you purchase the PLM software associated with the CAD workstation, the integration should already exist.  If not, you have a couple of options:  You can hand key the BoM into the PLM software [every time it changes] or you can pay to have integration software written.  If you have a full time person keying in BoM’s, it is in your best interest to look into integration.  Not only is it faster, but you will remove typos.

The Takeaway

If you want to manage your BoM’s [create/change/delete] in your PLM software, look at its ability to manage a BoM – not as a document but within a relational database.