The BOM – A Bridge From Design to Production

Jared Haw
Jared Haw
13 October, 2023 | 5 min for reading
The BOM – A Bridge From Design to Production

In the world of product development, the journey from design to a mass-produced product entails precision, collaboration, and speed. The transition from design to production can also be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. The focal point of success is how you manage your data and in this case, your Bill of Materials (BOM). 

Through agile product development, there are multiple steps and iterations that are based on the market and customer feedback. However, at some point in time, the goal is to turn these designs into a physical product that can be sold. Whether you’re designing a product that’s made once or you anticipate selling millions of units, you need to transition to production. 

The document that is at the heart of the transition is your BOM. The BOM acts as the bridge that connects the design of the product to production to ensure consistency in your manufacturing process. 

In this blog, we will explore the role that the BOM plays in the development and manufacturing process. We will unravel the role of the BOM in design and development by capturing CAD and non-CAD-related items, and how this data is used not just for prototypes but for production runs. 

The Role of BOM from Development to Production

The BOM is often misunderstood. It’s often thought of as a tool to give your supplier or contract manufacturer when you are ready to build a product. This can’t be farther from the truth. The BOM is a vital part of development ensuring every component and material is accounted for, and every change and revision is tracked. 

During the prototype stage, you need to have historical records of what was used for each prototype. This can go as fine as defining the type of glue that was used. Not capturing this info will make it nearly impossible to know what exactly was used in a specific prototype. 

As you transition to production, you need to cut down the back and forth between you and your supplier. According to Fast Radius, the number one pain during design and development is that communication with the manufacturers takes up too much time. 

The main reason for this back and forth is that you have been developing this product for quite some time and you know everything about it. However, if you don’t document specific things, suppliers always have questions. Some of these questions are basic, such as material, but others are more complex, such as quality requirements for a certain sub-assembly. 

However, if you manage your BOM correctly, both of these answers can be referenced in the BOM.

While the BOM is not the only document that’s passed around during the transition from development to production, it is the main reference point that connects most of the other documents. This reference point makes it the most important document as you go through development and launch production. 

Fast Radius goes on to say that the number one reason for this can be the way we communicate with our partners. The majority of us communicate by phone calls or text messages. This makes messages an easy way to lose data.

Whether you’re using phone calls, WhatsApp, WeChat, or sending Excels back and forth, things get lost and forgotten. It takes time to find the correct one and also to confirm it’s the right file or document.

Here are 5 ways the BOM connects development to production.

Component Identification and Sourcing

During the development phase, engineers and designers identify the components, materials, and parts required for the product. The BOM not only lists these items but also contains detailed specifications, quantities, and sourcing information. This information is pivotal when transitioning to production because it serves as a reference for procuring the exact materials and components needed to build the product.

Design Iterations

In the early stages of development, product designs often undergo numerous iterations and refinements. The BOM tracks these changes, making it easier to communicate design updates and ensure that the latest revisions are incorporated during production. This minimizes the risk of using outdated or incorrect components in the manufacturing process.

Cost Estimation

The BOM provides valuable cost and pricing data. During development, engineers can use this information to estimate the cost of producing the product. This is crucial for budgeting and financial planning. As the design matures and gets closer to production, the BOM helps identify cost-saving opportunities and optimizations.

Supplier and Vendor Coordination

The BOM includes supplier information and vendor details for each component. When it’s time to transition to production, having this information readily available streamlines the process of reaching out to suppliers, obtaining quotes, and negotiating contracts. It ensures that the necessary components can be sourced in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Efficient Handoff

As a project moves from development to production, a well-maintained BOM serves as a clear and organized handoff tool. It provides all the necessary information for production teams to understand the product’s requirements, from the list of components to assembly instructions.

What to Do Today?

It’s never too late to start managing your data the right way during development. As you transition to production, you will cut down plenty of unnecessary back and forth and going through old emails and documents to send to your supplier. 

OpenBOM is a cloud-based PDM & PLM platform to manage your engineering and manufacturing data. Companies from startups to Fortune 500s use OpenBOM to create a centralized database to bring in, store, and manage their manufacturing data. With this infrastructure, users also use OpenBOM to streamline both their change management and PO processes.

If you need to improve the way you manage your data and processes, share data instantly, or collaborate with contractors and suppliers. contact us today for a free consultation.


Jared Haw

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