Bill of Materials (BOM) Program

A bill of materials is used for price estimates, inventory control and parts tracking. It provides the manufacturer's part number (MPN) and the quantity needed of each part. At its most complex, the bill of materials (BOM) is a multi-level document that provides the information for various sub-assemblies and delineates the appropriate part number, approved manufacturers list (AML), mechanical characteristics and other information. Part specifications, CAD files and schematics might also be included.

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A bill of materials program is the software system used to automate the BOM management process. It is also known as a BOM program.

Originally used within a company, the bill of materials was used to track product changes and maintain an accurate list of necessary parts. As outsourcing in manufacturing has become more common, the bill of materials has become more significant. As costs have soared for both labor and materials, companies began searching for a better way to control this process. They turned to automation and found that bill of materials programs met their needs.

According to the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, BOM program errors typically fall within three categories: completeness, consistency and correctness.1

  • Completeness - Incomplete data is the most common BOM defect. Critical pieces of information that are often omitted include quantity, part description, reference designation and approved manufacturers list (AML). Missing AMLs reportedly cause the majority of problems.
  • Consistency - Information in the BOM sometimes conflicts with information provided in engineering drawings and design files. For example, quantities may not match -- there may be 10 locations for a particular component indicated on a board, but the BOM only specifies nine. Another consistency problem is format. The format of the BOM, even though it is from the same customer, can change from one transmission to the next, making it difficult to match and confirm data. Language is another stumbling block because it, too, can vary from BOM to BOM.
  • Correctness - Incorrect data is a serious problem. Common errors include invalid manufacturer or supplier information, obsolete data and incorrect part numbers (i.e., the manufacturer's parts number (MPN) given does not match the description of the part, or the MPN is not recognized by the manufacturer/supplier). Again, approved manufacturer's lists (AML) seem to be the predominant problem. Additional errors can result from receipt of information in hard copy format, which requires manual re-entry of data, an error-prone and time-consuming task.

How MasterControl's Bill of Materials Programs Solves these Problems

  • The BOM program software from MasterControl controls all BOM iterations generated during the design process and enables users to exchange BOM data with suppliers. All departments get an updated, accurate view of revision levels of every component in their particular configurations. Documents defining components are easily viewed from the BOM, insuring that the right documents and revisions are used in manufacturing. This type of integration solves the problem of completeness.
  • The bill of materials program software from MasterControl is traceable and secure, and provides instantaneous electronic communication. Because the BOM management software is integrated with the document management system, in-process changes are readily viewed by buyers/planners and costly mistakes can be avoided. All parties involved in the supply chain are accountable for actions once changes are approved and communicated. Integration helps guarantee completeness.
  • Authorized suppliers can have restricted access to the BOM program software system from MasterControl, allowing them to make markups to design files and associated BOMs at any point in the design process designated by the user. This saves time and money by eliminating the need to implement suppliers' modifications into reworked designs after manufacturing has commenced. This helps guarantee accuracy and correctness of data.
  • Finally, the bill of materials program software system from MasterControl estimates the cost of the final product and sub-assemblies, allowing users to focus design changes on the most expensive components.

For More Information on Bill of Materials Programs

For more information about bill of material programs, please feel free to contact a MasterControl representative.