Managing Variants Using the 150% BOM Approach

Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
21 July, 2023 | 4 min for reading
Managing Variants Using the 150% BOM Approach

In this modern age of complex and diversified products, the importance of variants and configurability can’t be overstated. Many companies using OpenBOM are facing the need to manage options and variants in BOM structures. In the blog today, I want to talk about how OpenBOM’s flexible data model allows you to organize a configured BOM structure that can be filtered with dynamic user-defined views. In PLM jargon it is called 150% BOM. 

The Importance of Variants and Configurability

As products become more complex and customers demand increased customization, the traditional Bill of Materials (BOM) is no longer adequate. This shift towards complexity and customer-centric products has made variant management and configurability crucial aspects of any manufacturing operation.

The industry trend toward a multi-view approach is accelerating and the demand for managing data in a flexible manner with the ability to filter the right BOM structure will be growing. Check my article – How to implement multi-view BOM strategy.

The 150% BOM approach offers a solution by capturing all possible variants of a product in one single BOM, hence providing a holistic view of a product’s structure. This expanded BOM allows for better planning, inventory management, and customization based on customers’ needs, significantly improving production efficiency and overall customer satisfaction.

OpenBOM Data Model Foundation

Let’s talk about data modeling foundations such as Instance/References and the ability to manage instance properties. The OpenBOM data model provides you with two types of attributes in BOM – instance and reference (item). By using instance attributes we can organize a model that allows the usage of the same components with different instance attribute values and later apply filters to get the right BOM configuration. Check more information about the OpenBOM BOM Data model.  

A very simple example of the approach is displayed below. I purposely removed images and other attributes to demonstrate how it works. 

An “instance” represents a unique usage of a part in a particular assembly, while a “reference” is the specific part used in that instance. This distinction allows for a clearer understanding of the relationships within complex product structures.

Instance properties, on the other hand, can be customized to store additional data about each part instance, making it easier to filter and manage variants. With the instance/reference model and instance properties at the foundation, OpenBOM is well-equipped to handle even the most complex product variants.

Examples of a single BOM with multiple configurations and  user-defined views 

Consider an example of a bicycle assembly. The same basic structure can be configured with different types of tires, seats, and gear systems to create multiple bike options..

In OpenBOM, these different configurations would be represented as a single BOM, which includes all components from all variants. This single, holistic BOM enables users to have a complete view of all possible bicycle variants and configurations.

Moreover, OpenBOM also allows for user-defined views, giving users the ability to define custom views of the BOM based on specific criteria. A specially defined properties can be used to mark a specific variant usage in the structure. 

Watch our video demo to see OpenBOM’s 150% BOM approach in action, demonstrating how different product variants can be efficiently managed and filtered using instance properties and user-defined views.

Conclusion – OpenBOM and Configurable Product Structures

A flexible data model is a foundation of robust PLM platforms. At OpenBOM, we focused on how to create a flexible and configurable data model that can be used in many BOM management scenarios. 

While we are at the beginning of our journey toward providing fully configurable product structures, OpenBOM’s data modeling foundation is already capable of managing simple variants. By utilizing instances/references and instance properties, we can handle different product configurations and filter these variants as needed.

The 150% BOM approach, coupled with OpenBOM’s powerful data modeling capabilities, serves as a robust tool for managing product complexity and customization. As we continue to develop and enhance these capabilities, we will enable a level of product configurability previously unachievable. And this is just the beginning!

REGISTER FOR FREE and start your 14-day trial to check all of what OpenBOM can do. 

Best, Oleg

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