Weekend Story: How to optimize product development using OpenBOM?

Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
7 December, 2019 | 5 min for reading
Weekend Story: How to optimize product development using OpenBOM?

Product development and manufacturing is hard. Remember the time when you were able to buy a bad car? It is over. All the cars are good now. The same is happening with all the other products.  The customer expectations are skyrocketing these days. The complexity of products is growing enormously – products are becoming connected, which means a lot of electronics and software. All the above is paralleled with the complexity of the global manufacturing and supply chain. And last, but not least is new workforce with fast-paced technological innovation. 

The transformation in manufacturing is here. How to deal with the transformation, to develop fast and optimize product development. These are hard questions, especially when you’re a small and growing manufacturing company? These days you need to look at how modern SaaS tools can help you to do so. 

Technologies are easy, but people are hard. You might develop brilliant technologies and create an innovative prototype made by your outstanding designers. But then the hard part comes. You need to build a product and ship it to customers. You need not forget anything, estimate the cost to build a product and to create a business model to win the market.

To succeed in all the things I mentioned about you need to help people to work together, streamline information flow and coordinate the activities. Small and mid-size companies are at high risk here, because of their nimble organization and lack of resources compared to large OEMs. 

This is exactly the place where OpenBOM innovation is coming to help you. OpenBOM is helping you to organize information, connect people with the data by sharing information globally and get rid of very painful and time-consuming tasks like cost calculations and purchasing planning. 

Here is how OpenBOM does? Think about four things OpenBOM can do for your company: (1) Organize the database of all standard components, engineering parts, and assemblies; (2) manage product information; (3) streamline the process of integration with engineering sources such as CAD and other systems; (3) organize vendor information and plan purchases to bring parts and assemblies on time to the assembly shop floor. 

1- Organize the data of all components, engineering parts, and assemblies  

OpenBOM catalogs are your single version of the truth about everything you have your company. The company is buying standard parts, outsource the work or making assemblies. Every single item in this process should have a Part Number and every single person involved in the product development process should be able to identify them uniquely. Get rid of messy lists in Excel spreadsheets. 

2- Manage product information (aka Bill of Materials or Product Structure) 

As much as many people think, the Bill of Materials is a simple list in the corner of your product drawings, it is not. Because that list is done by engineer and doesn’t have all the business information you need to have about parts and also missing dependencies to other components and assemblies. Changes in BOM is happening and not always reflected and dependent in the drawings. 

To create a full product structure with all dependencies, quantities and manage it in a centralized way, to share with everyone is imperative for every manufacturing company, but especially for a small one. Small companies think they can go away with a simple Excel, but they are not. 

OpenBOM Bill of Materials is an ultimate way to organize product information in a granular and simple way. Flexible data modeling allows you to add any property you need whenever you need it. Parent-child relationships built on the fly between assemblies. Capturing the history of all changes and managing revisions. 

3- Integrate with engineering systems and streamline the data flow

To have all product information in connected multi-level BOM with visual information can be hard. The data lives in engineering systems (MCAD, ECAD, and others). OpenBOM gives you integrations with all data sources and systems to automatically bring the data in sync. As much as it sounds simple, it is also powerful and can help you to avoid tons of mistakes. 

4- Calculate cost and plan purchases 

The product information structure you create in OpenBOM is not static. It is functional and allows you to do many things such as applying formulas, make calculations and plan activities such as purchasing. 

OpenBOM production planning (Order BOM) allows creating a product batch plan, calculate quantity gaps based on the information stored in catalogs and generate purchase orders. 


Manufacturing is transforming. Small and medium-sized manufacturing companies are in the position of power today able to grow, leverage modern workforce, global supply chain, and new markets. To do all these things, the company should think about how to organize the product development process, connect people with data and become a digital data-driven business. 

OpenBOM can help you to do so by taking you into 3 steps of transformation – (1) organizing data, (3) streamline data handover between applications and people, (3) automate calculations and planning. 

Register to FREE OpenBOM User Subscription to make the first steps in your product development transformation. 

Best, Oleg @ openbom dot com.

Let’s get to know each other better. If you live in the Greater Boston area, I invite you for a coffee together (coffee is on me). If not nearby, let’s have a virtual coffee session — I will figure out how to send you a real coffee.

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my Beyond PLM blog and PLM Book website

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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