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Using Software to Simplify Your Bill of Materials Management

A bill of materials (BOM) is a blueprint that is essential in the manufacturing of a product. It encompasses the raw materials, parts, components and quantities involved from inception to final production. Because BOM management can be a complex and confusing process that is prone to costly errors, it makes sense to incorporate a top-shelf software BOM tool into your implementation process.

Potential BOM Management Problems

Timing discrepancies, communications issues and design flaws can complicate even the most careful BOM strategy. The concerns that result can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Improper recording or maintenance of obsolete parts;
  • Faulty transferring of data from an engineering BOM to manufacturing or purchasing BOM;
  • Flawed change management;
  • Difficulties in tracing components through the life cycle of the product.

For these reasons, it is imperative to develop an effective BOM management system that includes all stakeholders and is completed early in the life cycle of the product.

How Software Can Maximize Your Company’s BOM Management Strategy

In the realm of product manufacturing, numerous departments and suppliers are involved, a reality that makes BOM management through manual means inefficient and prone to costly human error. Fortunately, materials management software allows many of these processes to be standardized and communicated to all parties in real-time. These elements include the following:

  • With hundreds and sometimes thousands of parts combining to make an end product, BOM management software records and tracks each material and component throughout the life cycle.
  • Streamlined communications. In many cases, each department has its own separate BOM. That can lead to duplication and other types of miscommunication between engineering, manufacturing and purchasing. However, BOM management software enables easy collaboration in real-time.
  • Limited editing privileges. While many people should have input into the BOM, only a select few should be given permission to make changes to the evolving document. Encapsulating the BOM into a software package with explicit, limited user permissions can ensure that alterations are made thoughtfully and with the approval of team leaders.
  • Change management. Inevitably, modifications will be made to a product over time. Without an effective change management strategy in place, the consequences could be both damaging and costly. BOM management software builds change management into its DNA, allowing for unfettered information flow among stakeholders. It also incorporates a solution to address how obsolete products are tracked and removed from the BOM to avoid confusion and purchasing of parts that are no longer needed.

For companies that manufacture goods, quality is of the highest importance. BOM management software automates many aspects of bills of materials, streamlining processes, ensuring regulatory compliance and helping to maintain overall quality across all departments. The age of manual BOM management is gone forever, having been replaced by human-monitored software that takes much of the guesswork and inefficiency out of the production of modern goods.

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