BOM management: A critical part of your product development lifecycle

May 16, 2023


Bill of materials (BOM) management is necessary for product development. It’s the foundation for building successful products, ensuring you can account for every part and closely track costs. This article explores the importance of BOM management in product development and provides actionable tips.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a solid understanding of the role of BOM management in product development and how to implement it in your own processes.

What is BOM management?

BOM management is a critical process in product development that involves organizing, tracking, and updating all the components and parts needed to build a product.

The BOM includes every discrete component required to satisfy the conditions defined in the product requirements document (PRD). Effectively managing the BOM ensures that your product is delivered on time and at the desired cost. In addition, any changes to the BOM are accurately tracked and communicated across the product development team. As a result, BOM management software helps engineers to reduce product costs, minimize errors, and maintain quality control.

Benefits of effective BOM management

Now that we’ve discussed the function of BOM management and why it’s important, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of effective BOM management.

Reduced costs

Effective BOM management helps reduce costs in various ways.

Firstly, it helps reduce the need for manual data entry as you copy data between applications, such as your CAD tools or spreadsheets. Manually transferring this data increases the potential for human error, which can lead to costly mistakes in production, such as using incorrect components or ordering too many or too few raw materials. Modern PLM systems streamline BOM management by automating data entry from CAD tools or suppliers. 

Effective BOM management can also help identify and eliminate obsolete or duplicate components, allowing for more efficient use of materials and reducing unnecessary expenses. They show alerts when data is duplicated or incomplete. Guaranteeing that BOM records remain accurate helps improve product integrity and prevents costly mistakes with rework later on. 

Increased engineering efficiency

Manual data entry takes up valuable time that engineers should spend designing new products. Time-consuming administrative tasks often reduce the amount of higher-value work they’re able to focus on, which can result in product launch delays. 

A centralized PLM system with a standardized BOM structure allows engineers to take back the time they may spend managing disorganized information. This can lead to increased collaboration and efficiency between teams.

By maintaining high levels of data accessibility and continuity across your product data management tech stack, your business can scale faster and your engineers are more focused.

Improved quality control

Effective BOM management is paramount for maintaining high levels of quality control in production. With a centralized BOM structure, engineers can easily access and update information on product components, reducing the risk of errors and improving overall accuracy.

This can also help identify potential issues earlier in the product development cycle, allowing for timely resolution and preventing costly rework.

Address supply chain fluctuations

Supply chain disruptions are often challenging for your product development teams, but effective BOM management can help mitigate the impact. Using a modern PLM system with built-in BOM management capabilities and supplier integrations, your engineers can quickly assess the availability and cost of off-the-shelf parts for new designs and update the BOM as needed.

This information allows teams to proactively address potential supply chain issues and adjust designs accordingly, reducing the risk of delays and ensuring that products can be brought to market on time and within budget.

Ensured compliance with regulatory requirements

Having detailed documentation about all components and materials used in your products helps ensure that you can meet regulatory standards. In addition, full traceability of any changes to your BOM enables you to prepare for audits. 

Challenges with using spreadsheets for BOM management

Managing a BOM using spreadsheets can be challenging. While spreadsheets are cheap and easily accessible, manual data entry could lead to data inconsistencies and difficulties in maintaining up to date information.

This section reviews some of the challenges of using spreadsheets for BOM management. It explains why dedicated BOM management software is beneficial.

Factoring in details for complex products

BOMs can become unwieldy to manage as products grow in complexity. Spreadsheets require high organization and attention to detail, which can lead to a risk of inaccurate data and potential rework. 

High-quality BOM management software can handle complex data and ensures accuracy as you add new design elements. In addition, having a centralized store to bring together BOMs and documentation from electrical, mechanical and firmware teams enables everyone to stay on the same page.

Managing versions and changes

BOMs can be subject to frequent changes during the product development lifecycle. For example, if a component lead time is too long or the product needs to be specifically altered for manufacturing processes. Without proper version control, costly errors can occur later on.

To ensure that all stakeholders understand which is the latest version of the BOM, hardware organizations need a system in place to track changes. BOM management software records updates to the BOM for every design change.

Tracking supply chain fluctuations

When specific components are out of stock or have long lead times, it’s difficult to meet production schedules. When using spreadsheets, there’s no way to quickly see whether your components are available.

PLM software, like Duro, enables you to see updated cost rollups and lead time for your entire BOM. It helps you find alternative components so you can address sourcing issues early in design and avoid having to make changes later.

Addressing collaboration for disparate teams

Everyone involved in the production process needs access to the same product information, including the complete BOM. When this information is stored in spreadsheets, it’s not always easy to know who has access to the documents or agree on who’s responsible for making updates.

A centralized BOM, stored in a PLM platform, with links to related product documentation ensures seamless communication across teams. From design engineers to manufacturers and supply chain managers, everyone has a single source of truth.

How to use BOM management software (like Duro) to increase production speed and accuracy

This section will explore how BOM management software like Duro can increase production speed and accuracy by streamlining production processes, reducing errors, and improving efficiency. 

We will discuss how to mitigate the challenges faced with manual BOM management by creating standardized processes.

Analyze changes to your BOM throughout design and development

BOM management software provides a comprehensive way to track and manage changes to the BOM throughout the design and development process. Quickly compare revisions and see how the BOM has changed.

Duro highlights the differences between revisions regarding BOM structure, documentation, and sourcing, with easily visible color coding. This feature enables engineers to understand changes that have occurred and make decisions about adapting designs based on accurate information.

Ensure BOM continuity from design to procurement and production

BOM management software helps maintain BOM continuity across each product lifecycle stage. Duro’s pre-built integrations with your preferred CAD tools, including Altium, Onshape and SolidWorks, allow you to synchronize part numbers, BOM structure, and new releases.

Additionally, engineers can generate unique part numbers for every component within Duro. You can easily track published releases and centralize necessary production files and documentation to share with downstream team members. 

Eliminate duplication and procure the right components

One of the most useful features of BOM management software, like Duro, is its ability to prevent duplication and ensure the accurate procurement of components. Duro automates data entry and validates components, flagging any duplicates or errors to guarantee the accuracy of the entire BOM.

This helps to save time checking and re-entering information, freeing up time for design decisions and streamlining the procurement process.

Stay on top of supply chain data with real-time sourcing data

The ability to view real-time sourcing data, helps keep engineers up to date with the latest pricing, lead times, and availability for mechanical and electrical parts.

Duro offers out-of-the-box integrations with off-the-shelf parts distributors, so you can quickly see cost rollups and ensuring the accuracy of data transfer into the system and reducing duplication for parts. This feature helps to streamline the supply chain management process, providing engineering teams with current information that they can use to make informed decisions and optimize their procurement strategies.

Take control of your BOM management with Duro’s easy-to-use software

BOM management is a critical aspect of product design and manufacturing that requires effective communication, collaboration, and management. Duro PLM offers a comprehensive solution to mitigate the challenges associated with BOM management and provides for a more effective process.

Using Duro, engineering teams can analyze changes throughout design and development, ensure BOM continuity from design to procurement and production, eliminate duplication and procure the right components, and stay on top of supply chain data with real-time sourcing data. All of this leads to an increase in production speed and accuracy, resulting in a more efficient production process.

Request a demo today to learn more about Duro’s BOM management software and how it can benefit your business.

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