When looking for a BOM management solution to make your hardware engineering processes more efficient, OpenBOM may be on your list for consideration. Seeing this software discussed throughout the industry may pique your interest, but you also might be wondering if it’s suitable for your particular needs.
In this article, we’ll review the advantages and disadvantages of OpenBOM, including its features and limitations. Finally, we’ll explore some powerful alternatives for implementing a comprehensive PLM solution for your product design and development processes.
Understanding OpenBOM software
OpenBOM offers cloud-based BOM management and PLM software that helps to define and centralize your bill of materials.
BOM management tools aid you in tracking part numbers, supply chain vendors, and changes to your assembly.
OpenBOM’s solution does this and more. It helps users collaborate around product data. However,, it does have some limitations that you should consider. Let’s take an in-depth look below.
Features of OpenBOM
Here is an overview of some of the core features of OpenBOM’s software and how they help hardware teams solve issues:
- BOM management: OpenBOM’s BOM management is flexible and easy to navigate between single-level, multi-level, and flattened BOM views via a drop-down list. This gives users a simple way to extract, integrate, and manage their product assemblies. Its Excel-like interface makes it easy to navigate and share data between teams, suppliers, and contractors.
- CAD integrations: Popular CAD tools such as SolidWorks and Autodesk Fusion 360 integrate seamlessly with OpenBOM. This lets you directly import CAD data into the system, reducing manual entry (and error) while ensuring real-time collaboration and synchronization.
- Item management: For modern manufacturing, it’s important to incorporate as much detail as possible in planning and design to refer to later. Part numbers, descriptions, shipping times, and suppliers must be tracked efficiently for procurement and manufacturing. OpenBOM streamlines inventory management, product information, and production planning.
- Revision control: Once the project is underway, reviewing the change history in real time is essential to ensure everything runs smoothly. OpenBOM offers revision control, allowing your design and engineering teams to roll back to previous versions or work from newer iterations.
- Pricing options: OpenBOM offers a free plan for individual users. Although prices jump from there, it’s still considered one of the cheaper options on the market — which is why it’s often selected by early-stage companies.
Limitations of OpenBOM
While OpenBOM has an array of useful features, there are a number of limitations to consider:
- Change management: When changes occur, as they inevitably will, everyone should be aligned. OpenBOM enables data sharing between your manufacturing, procurement, and engineering teams. But its capabilities in this area are limited and it doesn’t have a formal out-of-the-box ECO process like some of the other tools in the market.
- Speed: Many users have reported that OpenBOM lags and sometimes freezes when using the system, often with prolonged use. The fully cloud-based SaaS solution doesn’t offer offline or internal access for those moments when time is of the essence.
- Limited scalability: OpenBOM occasionally struggles when handling large and complex BOMs, which can result in performance issues. This can present a problem when dealing with extensive product structures, or projects with a high volume of users.
- Customer support: As a small growing company, OpenBOM has not yet built out its customer success team. As a result, it may take longer to get personalized advice or help with support tickets.
Complete review of OpenBOM
OpenBOM may be on your list as your next BOM and product lifecycle management solution. To help you make a more informed decision, we’ve compiled a comprehensive product review with honest feedback from customers.
The company is wellknown and regarded as an easy-to-use BOM management solution that streamlines your product design process.
Some of the standard features that users enjoy with this solution are the integration between popular CAD tools and ERP systems. The real-time integration between design data and your bill of materials ensures everyone works with the same information, helping keep teams aligned.
The revision control functionality is greatly appreciated and commonly referenced by users. OpenBOM properly delegates responsibility and accountability to the correct team so that nothing is ever lost, ensuring the audit trail is continuously updated, and proper users can be contacted at each step.
Many users have expressed the need for additional resources and documentation. OpenBOM offers limited hands-on support, meaning that users have to navigate training on their own.
Finally, OpenBOM does not offer multi-factor authentication, security, and auto-log features in its standard pricing. This comes at an extra cost, which could increase with more added users in your organization.
Overall OpenBOM is a good solution for small businesses looking for an out-of-the-box BOM management platform that they can get up and running on quickly. However, it’s built to serve buyers that don’t require full-featured, advanced workflows — or full-featured engineering change management functionality. Medium- and large-sized businesses may want to look for other alternatives.
3 OpenBOM alternatives
If OpenBOM doesn’t align with your needs, there are a host of great alternatives that may fit your criteria. Here are three unique solutions to consider:
Duro is a comprehensive product lifecycle management platform designed with agile teams in mind, helping them get up and running quickly.
With specific support for hardware companies that design and manufacture electro-mechanical products, Duro has set up its platform around best practices for change orders and BOM management. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy for anyone on the team to learn.
Duro enables real-time collaboration between your team, suppliers, and stakeholders while remaining fast and responsive. This helps streamline the hardware product development process, accelerating your time to market and ensuring your data is accurate across departments and applications.
Get started with a demo to see how Duro can help you better manage your BOMs.
- Out-of-the-box CAD integrations for your software so that you can have complete revision accuracy and control.
- Intuitively-designed change order workflows which streamline change processes and enable you to work to pre-set best practices.
- Automated data entry that allows you to quickly import spreadsheets and reduce the likelihood of erroneous data being entered into the PLM system. All available information like datasheets, part specs, thumbnails, distributor part numbers, price breaks, and lead times are automatically updated.
- Cost roll ups and sourcing gives visibility into availability, lead times and cost rollups for every component. Direct integrations with off-the-shelf parts distributors enable you to keep sourcing data up to date.
- Rapid onboarding and training that helps your business get up and running as soon as you sign the contract. Duro’s cloud-native solution is easily accessible by any team member.
- Customer success, focused on making sure customers continue getting value from the platform beyond the initial setup. It offers online resources that provide tips and tricks about using the platform. The support team runs regular training sessions for new customers and responds to any queries or issues within 24 hours.
2. Google Sheets
Google Sheets can be a viable alternative to BOM management for small teams when they’re developing products for the first time.
While free and easy to use, Sheets doesn’t have any features designed specifically for BOM management. Which means you’ll have to manually update each row every time you make a change to a design or component.
Similarly, Sheets can be difficult to keep updated, as individuals have to take time to check that it matches the data in their CAD tools.
- Easy to access and use by any team member, providing a cost-effective solution for collaboration between teams
- Available for free to all Google Users. Access controls enable permissions to be easily managed by Sheets owners
- Spreadsheet formulas can be automated using the Google Apps Script
- Interconnected with other Google Workspace tools, including Google Drive — a cloud-based storage solution
3. Arena PLM & QMS
Arena combines a quality management system (QMS) with a complete PLM solution. Its cloud-based applications enable end-to-end visibility and control over the quality process and your product lifecycle management.
Arena has a steeper learning curve than other platforms and typically takes longer to implement and understand. It offers a wide variety of add-on features allowing it to be tailored to your needs. However, as a result, the total cost of ownership may be higher as you pay for services for integrations and customizations.
- Quality management modules are built into the solution to ensure compliance with rigorous standards and regulations
- Advanced functionality for reporting and analytics
- Highly customizable templates and workflows, which can be tailored to your company — an advantage for very large organizations with specific requirements
- Fully-customizable pricing plans and support
Looking for a new PLM? Try Duro today
Product development necessitates a constant evaluation and harmonization of tools, teams, and systems. OpenBOM is a useful tool for those looking for a cost-effective BOM management tool, but its drawbacks may mean it’s not right for you.
Duro’s robust data management and change order workflows ensure you get the data you need to make more informed decisions during the product development process and move with agility. Our PLM solution features out-of-the-box CAD integrations, BOM management, change management, and accurate revision control.
Request a demo today to see the Duro difference.