Every product development and every construction project will require a comprehensive list of parts/material and quantities to move a project from the engineering phase to manufacturing or final erection. From component level items such as bolts or terminal blocks to sub-assemblies, the integration of advanced Bill of Materials data extraction and reporting will greatly benefit project administration, estimation, supply chain coordination, third-party fabrication, systems installation, and the final construction or manufacturing process.
Partner with an outsourced engineering and design services firm which will use advanced bill-of-materials (BOM) software to eliminate errors from inaccurate quantities and omission of components from the BOM, both of which cause far-reaching chain reactions, from out-of-control building costs and unusable inventory to delays in construction or manufacture. New bill-of-materials software technology enables extraction of part-level or sub-assembly level component information to automatically generate a complete bill-of-materials of purchased products, inventoried components, and third-party fabrications.
The primary goal of a bill-of-materials is to track all parts required to fulfill an engineering design, yet, huge benefits are available when using advanced BOM software. That is the generation of customized multi-departmental reports. With multi-level BOM data input, component information can be customized to reflect departmental needs that provide engineering support, such as inventory and warehouse management, sales purchase orders (especially long-lead time items), construction work orders, vendor and shop drawing bidding and fabrication, estimation team take-offs, and administrative data entry support.
Engineering Setbacks When the BOM Software is Unsuccessful
An ineffective and inefficient bill-of-materials program can negatively affect both new product development or large/small construction projects. In manufacturing, unnecessary changes in the production process are created, along with downtime due to lack of inventory. With construction efforts, the material supply chain, project estimation, and contractor bidding efforts are hampered. Manufacturing or construction setbacks incurred due to inefficient BOM program implementation can include:
- Simpler systems lack automation required to increase efficiency – such as tracking changes and revision histories, auto-update with new supplier information, mass replacement of a single part throughout the project, and multiple views of BOM information (flat component level, indented or multi-level, modular or hierarchy level).
- Lack of synchronization and product information exchange across industry standard data platforms, such as .xls, .pdx, or .csv – to enable third-party product data information downloads or multi-departmental access to BOM data.
- Increased chance of component level inaccuracies incurred for some data-heavy BOM disciplines like electrical and process piping & instrumentation. Advanced Bill-of-Materials applications will automatically update when changes are made to the model or engineering documentation set.
- Shop drawing contractual disputes with third-party fabricators can result from mistakes in steel sub-assembly component information. Specifications or data for material grade, size, and quantities are applied directly within the shop drawing layout, and extracted to the BOM
- A misinformed supply chain can produce excessive scrapping and assembly re-works when the latest revision of an assembly does not quickly reflect engineering corrections or design changes that affect the bill-of-materials.
- Erratic purchase orders and inflated costs can be directly influenced by material purchases that are no longer included in the design, or indirectly through administrative time committed to finding and correcting inaccuracies.
- Wasted design and administrative production hours when the same information has to be input into different systems in different departments.
Ways Advance Bill of Material will Benefit Your Project
- Re-usable Standardization of Bill-of-Materials – Setting a framework for how much product information or material data is to be included in the project’s BOM will determine the extent of report generation which can be used by other departments. A standard data input framework should be specific enough for each discipline or product type, yet generic enough to be reused on subsequent projects. High-level advanced BOM data records should include at least the following product, material, or assembly information:
- BOM level (discrete item, sub-component or assembly)
- Component name, a unique number, and description
- Quantities, lengths, and units of measure
- Procurement type (stock, purchased or fabricated)
- Reference designators (to locate items or assemblies within engineering drawings)
Advanced BOM programs will allow for this basic data and additional tagged information to be assigned to, or connected with the graphical elements of the design layout or shop drawings. When your bill-of-materials is developed with strategic insight to support non-engineering staff, the following non-graphical data fields are an example of information which can generate reports for multi-departmental use:
- primary supplier, pricing, availability
- alternate vendors or approved material substitutions
- vendor or fabrication contact information or website
- links to shared files such as MSDS info, cut-sheets, schedules
- inventory or warehousing information
- Best Practices BOM Data Models– A bill-of-materials is at its essence a database of product or material information. This information can be input as the engineering design is documented through a proprietary CAD bill-of-material module extension; or through a third-party advanced BOM software program where information is manually retrieved from documentation and input into the BOM data fields. Either way, it is important to consider the structure of your data, which is usually modeled in one of three ways:
- Single-Level BOM – will present a simple, straightforward shopping list of all required items (materials, components, assemblies) for a complete project. This model is prone to errors and is used in only the simplest of assemblies or construction projects.
- Multi-Level BOM – (or indented) will set up a parent-child relationship between assemblies, components, and sub-components. This model will allow an efficient ‘drill-down’ from top-level assemblies to the bottom-level raw material, stock items, or purchased components of the assembly. Changes at the assembly level will automatically delete or add items as ‘child’ components.
- Modular BOM – (or hierarchical) establishes the finished product at the top level with each sub-assembly as a distinct module containing individual parts. Modular BOM’s have the added advantage of being able to display in both single-level and multi-level views, or as a visual structure such as a flowchart or graphs.
An advanced Bill-of-Materials program can easily be structured for any of these types of project data structures, to eliminate the time-consuming efforts of administrators using Office spreadsheets or database programs. Consult with your engineering partner to discuss existing corporate business and inventory software to determine the best data model and compatibility with CAD bill-of-material programs.
- Extraction and Data Reporting – Advanced bill-of-materials technology, (whether stand-alone as a database or integral to the engineering design documentation) is formatted and configured to generate a variety of reports. Custom sorting, filtering, and grouping can provide many reports to be used by multiple departments:
- Complete Component/Material List
- Project Take-offs and Cost Estimations
- Construction Materials Procurement
- Purchase Orders by Supplier
- Assembly fabrication Report
- Stock, Shelf, or Purchased Inventory
- Product Version Comparisons
- Work Order Materials
- Field Change Orders
Your engineering services firm knows the value of using an advanced bill-of-materials program goes beyond the engineering benefits to enhance operations across the entire project. Empowering product and material data with sales, inventory, and business data is the underlying key to strategic manufacturing systems and efficient construction management.
The graphical user interface (GUI) should make the information easy to use with master tabs for major assemblies, data view manipulation to see only need information, lookup formulas to quickly find specific information, and data connections to find information by cross-referencing.
Regardless of your BOM data input standards, data model structure, or custom reports generation, complete and accurate information is needed from line items to fabricated assemblies. Advanced programs will allow control over BOM information which may include electronic signatures for revision release, and establish read/write privileges to avoid unofficial changes.