BOM and Configuration Management

The Bill of Materials (BOM) is the keystone for product development. But in many organizations the way BOMs are created and used places a stranglehold on efficiency and prevents innovation. RGS can help you integrate BOM creation and management into a modern Configuration Management (CM) system as part of your overall PLM strategy.

CM in PLM watches over consistency in product definition and manufacturing execution. A good CM utility provides visibility into the functional relationships in a product’s definition. If changes are required, it is the CM tool that is used for final reconciliation of consistency. CM ensures that every person on the team shares a common understanding of what is being designed, approved, ordered, built, sold, and serviced.

CM is especially helpful in situations where:

  • Multiple Bills of Material (BOMs) are being created within the organization;
  • There is constant product evolution;
  • When spreadsheets are still being used to create BOMs;
  • Product complexity is high;
  • Regulatory oversight is high; and
  • There are higher consequences from product failure.

Eliminate Spreadsheets

Spreadsheet software should only be considered as a one-person productivity tool. When used to house BOMs, spreadsheets make it difficult, if not impossible, for an organization to gain necessary visibility, agility, and control.

RGS can help you get your CM processes in order by leveraging better data management tools and aligning your business processes for increased efficiency in your product development process. As an independent services-only provider, RGS can focus on the specific needs of user productivity for our clients.

Robust Configuration Management is especially important with increased product complexity, high regulatory oversight, or higher consequences from product failure.

Get the Most Out of Your CM

When optimized, CM is a watchdog over the functional relations between parts, subsystems & systems, and the controls system. When system changes are proposed, evaluated, or implemented, the CM tool ensures consistency and adherence to standards. A complete CM system automates storing, tracking, and updating all configuration information, whether it is at the component, subsystem, or system level.

Research firm McKinsey and Company notes, “An efficient change process can cut up to 33% off the typical product development cycle time.”

Establish Interrelationships in your Product Structure

CM also controls item interrelationships like product structure, spares, and alternates. The CM data store can also be used to create configuration methodology and information hierarchies for a product or a system. Once created, these methods and hierarchies can be used to track a product or system throughout its life.

Reuse and Access Information Easily

As with all data management software, the value of Configuration Management resides in the access and reuse of information. The same CM information that defines the starting point for a New Product Introduction (NPI) process can also be used in a product catalog, to guide analysis, and to create product configurations to analyze designs in CAD and CAE. Many manufacturers also use CM to establish and satisfy market specifications, define variant configurable products, and to generate engineering BOMs.

Prevent Reverse Engineering

CM can prevent the time-consuming and expensive reverse engineering that takes place when a physical product does not match the engineering documentation. Too often–when there is no configuration management in place – engineers are forced to develop new documentation that matches the physical product. Such processes may seem like “business as usual” in some environments, but they are completely avoidable using CM. As consulting firm Gartner Group notes, “54% of companies lack a single repository to review, analyze, approve and track changes across products.”

Manage Multiple CAD Systems with Ease

Configuration Management becomes crucial when juggling multiple CAD systems, multiple product assemblies/subassemblies, and regular reuse of parts. It is not uncommon for a manufacturer to assign multiple part numbers to the same physical part, as the product line evolves. How the same part fits into an assembly process may vary from product to product, and each product could be designed in a different CAD system.

Prevent BOM Version Control and Entry Errors

In daily use, the CM tool synchronizes with the Bill of Materials (BOM). CM users can verify design and BOM information, using various sorting filters. By aligning Configuration Management to the Bill of Materials, users can prevent errors that creep in when multiple engineering BOMs (eBOMs) are used. Other benefits of BOM/CM alignment include eliminating errors during manual transformation of each unique product configuration into a resolved design, while translating customer orders into production orders, and when managing engineering change propagation.

RGS will help you implement key CM features including:

  • Configuration identification, control, status accounting, and verification;
  • Different baselines for various stages in the product lifecycle (as-designed, as-built, as-maintained);
  • Dashboard-style text-and-graphics management screen for insights into process workflow; and
  • Adherence to best practices, either as defined in-house or from established certifications (CMII, CMPIC).

RGS can also help you compare CM modules between vendors, and help realize the benefits you need in your organization:

  • Increase visibility throughout the design and manufacturing process;
  • Avoid delays and decrease costs by use of best practices;
  • Reduce errors, delays, scrap, and rework; and
  • Free up engineering resources from manual management tasks.

To learn more about RGS and how we can support your programs, contact us at 330.208.2428.