Developing a hardware product involves several different processes across a series of distinct stages. These stages ultimately become more complex and rigid the more mature the design becomes, due to the oversight needed and the number of contributors involved. This growing complexity often leads engineering teams to reassess their internal processes and seek out better tools to help manage these workflows.
One of the great challenges for hardware engineers and designers lies in getting all of their product’s component, part and assembly data into a central repository that will eventually become a Bill of Materials (BOM). While spreadsheets offer ease of use, they greatly lack the ability to identify and correct problems, track changes among team members and enforce industry standards. A more robust, centralized system, like a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software package is needed to better manage data.
In the previous article in this BOM Building series, I listed the 5 bare minimum fields required for a proper BOM (Bill of Materials). The goal of any BOM is to accurately represent the discrete parts of your product with sufficient detail to procure them - no more, no less. While only 5 fields are required to accomplish this, the addition of the following optional fields helps make your BOM more robust and efficient for a procurement team to do their job.