OpenBOM Fundamentals — Bill of Materials and Catalog

OpenBOM Fundamentals — Bill of Materials and Catalog
Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
31 March, 2019 | 2 min for reading

On the surface, Bill of Materials (BOM) is simple. This is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Bill of Materials as a list of parts. In fact, BOMs are not simple. Here are just a few ideas about what can make BOM management a very complex task leading to frustration, debates about how to own and manage it and variety of options involved.

Speaking to many new and existing users and customers of OpenBOM made me think of the need to provide information about the way OpenBOM is organized. Which means to provide more information about OpenBOM’s conceptual model, its flexibility, and options.

I like using simple models to demonstrate how OpenBOM works. One of my favorites is a model of a skateboard.

The model above is obviously simplified.

However, I’d like to bring your attention to two groups of information. The first one is the lower part with a wheel, a board, an axle, and screws. The second group is the actual skateboard with one board, 2 axle assemblies, 4 wheels, and a bunch of screws.

The first group contains abstract parts (or components). This is something that OpenBOM catalogs are used for. You may think of OpenBOM catalogs as a distributed database of all parts, assemblies, and everything else you need for your products (eg. materials, purchased assemblies or even labor needed to assemble products).

The second group contains real products you design or manufacture. Think of it as a specific thing. Usually represented and uniquely identified by Part Number. This is what OpenBOM’s Bill of Materials used for. Depending on the situation, it can be an engineering BOM (EBOM), Manufacturing BOM (MBOM) or any other (support and maintenance, or supply chain).


BOMs and Catalogs are fundamental elements of OpenBOM Reference-Instance model. A typical use of OpenBOM is to create catalogs with parts and then start creating Bill of Materials using parts and assemblies from catalogs.

In the next article, we will talk about creating a catalog and then building a BOM. Stay tuned!

Best, Oleg

Leave Your Comment

Related Posts

Also on OpenBOM

4 6
3 April, 2019

If you visit OpenBOM website for the first time, you might be curious – who is OpenBOM for? The best…

4 April, 2019

А platform is one of the most popular words in modern software (and not only vocabulary). In the old days,…

4 April, 2019

One of the most frequently asked questions about OpenBOM is related to multi-level BOM. Does OpenBOM actually support hierarchical multi-level…

26 March, 2019

Hello OpenBOM users! I’m very excited about our new website and a new blog. For quite a long period of…

4 April, 2019

In the world of business software, replacing spreadsheets or Excel is the most popular topic. Guess what? Almost every successful…

31 March, 2019

On the surface, Bill of Materials (BOM) is simple. This is the first thing that comes to mind when you…

1 April, 2019

The Bill of Materials (or BOM) is the lifeblood of every engineering and manufacturing process. Regardless of how simple or…

18 April, 2019

Bill of materials is a recipe of your product. Everything you need to make, purchase, and assembly must be placed…

19 April, 2019

The manufacturing industry is changing. A long time ago, manufacturing shops were big and slow. Over the past 15-20 years,…

To the top