Transforming the BOM: The Benefits of a Part-Centric Development Process




Does your product development process revolve around CAD drawings? Until recently, product parts could easily be managed in drawings or spreadsheets. In the IoT era, however, products are becoming increasingly complex, more product stakeholders rely on access to this data to complete tasks, and organizations need to manage data in a more agile fashion. To do that, it’s time to transform from drawings to a part-centric Bill of Materials (BOM). 

The Drawing Waiting Game

Design drawings are very complicated: containing all of the product information needed from design to manufacturing and service. Downstream teams need access to this information quickly so they can begin executing on their own processes within the product lifecycle. Manufacturing, for example, needs to be able to set up the assembly line and develop work instructions using information from engineering. But before these teams can get their hands on the drawing, it must be created, reviewed, and approved by engineering. 

While engineering is reviewing the drawings, downstream stakeholders end up in an agonizing waiting game where they aren’t able to perform their tasks. This pause in the dissemination of information causes wasted time and loss in money for organizations. But the waiting game doesn’t necessarily end once downstream teams finally get their hands on the drawings. Any new or updated information grounds teams to a halt as engineering incorporates and reapproves the drawings. 

Is This the Latest Version?

Once a drawing is updated and approved, downstream teams need to be notified that there is a new version, with new information, available. Any work that has already been created using the (now) out-of-date drawings will need to be reviewed and potentially redone. However, as more edits are made and newer versions of the drawings are created, it can become confusing to determine if the latest version is being used and what work needs to be redone. 

Oversights and errors caused by not using the latest, most up-to-date drawing can result in major issues such as wrong parts being ordered, low part reuse and high inventory levels, and release dates not being met. 

A Part-Centric Approach in the IoT Era

Add to this the fact that many products are adding mechanical, electronic, and software components,  and managing drawings becomes a total migraine. Organizations need a more holistic way of looking at their complete product definition. In order to do this, it is necessary to transform your product development process to focus on the parts that make up the product via a complete Bill of Materials (BOM). 

A consolidated, structured list of product parts and data, a BOM automatically cascades information and changes throughout the organization. Stakeholders are able to access the information they need, when they need it: engineers are freed from the burden of managing and administering data while their non-engineering counterparts are able to access information faster. Any changes made to the BOM by one group is automatically disseminated throughout the entire organization – ensuring that everyone is using the most up-to-date data. With earlier access to the most accurate product information, downstream teams are able to complete tasks concurrently as engineering is completing and approving their designs – making the entire product development process more efficient and minimizing downtime.

Adopting a part-centric product development process gives you clean data, which is necessary to setting a foundation for digitalization. By digitalizing your product development process, your organization will be able to adopt many other new capabilities that will keep you competitive in the IoT era. Whether smoother digital product traceability, constant analysis of products in the field, or a digital twin, a complete digital product definition based off of a part-centric BOM makes it possible to begin your IoT digital transformation. 

Take your first step to digital transformation in the IoT era: Download the ebook: “A Getting Started Guide to a Part-Centric BOM” today!