Consumer Electronic (Fortune 500) Company Turns To OpenBOM to Support Agile New Product Development, Improve Collaboration and Purchasing Process

Fortune 500 Global Consumer Electronic Manufacturing Company
Fortune 500 Global Consumer Electronic Manufacturing Company

There are many reasons why product development companies would create new products. One of the most critical elements of modern competitive situations is related to the need to have a stronghold in your niche market. This is also one of the most difficult activities for established large companies.

The Hidden Hurdles That Are Tripping Up Product Development Companies…

With globalization here to stay, worldwide competition is a real and serious obstacle that most product development companies need to keep an eye on. Globalization has made it so that what is new today may be obsolete tomorrow.

Time pressure is another obstacle that really hurts companies in their race to deliver new products.

When time is an issue, communication and organization usually break down which in turn affects the end product.

In order to win this race of who has the latest and best product on the market, companies are creating new product development units that are feverishly working away at new prototypes that eventually will join their well-known and top-selling product line.

But in order to reach these goals, companies need an efficient tool to streamline the production process and keep every piece of the moving puzzle accounted for.

Out With The Old In With The New…

The existing software used by many large manufacturing companies is usually obsolete and does not hold up well with the demands of the modern world.

In this story, we talk about one of the world’s leading companies in consumer products, high tech, and electronic development and share why this company turned to OpenBOM to support their agile product development process. 

See What OpenBOM Has To Offer

OpenBOM’s modern SAAS architecture unlocks innovation and collaboration, rapidly accelerates product development, and delivers an amazing ROI for the team of 20-30 engineers, prototyping and purchasing, and their managers.

As our Fortune 500 company neared the end of their new product concept phase and were looking at high volume manufacturing they were concerned about their existing PLM and ERP environment.

The existing legacy PLM environment is too complex and too costly, cannot deliver an easy model to collaborate, and fails to provide an agile environment for production planning, which is typically handled by a super sophisticated corporate ERP system.

For agile new product development, these two existing systems (PLM and ERP) were like a heavyweight that was slowing the NPD process down.

What Was The Solution?

The head of the design team turned to OpenBOM to help bring it all together. Here is how he describes the problem the company was solving…

“We just didn’t have processes in place to store non-CAD business information which was crucial to our product in our existing CAD / PDM system” says the lead engineer at the company. “So we put it in Excel. – and all the problems that flowed from that.”

“We had multiple places and Excel file copies which every member of the team must have access to. We couldn’t control access or maintain a master efficiently. As a result, everyone had to be an Excel VLookup expert or we would break this complicated table. The whole process was exhausting.”

As product development was ready to scale into a higher volume manufacturing, this Excel-driven process was too fragile to share outside the core team and to collaborate with.

“Frankly, we needed something reliable and ready to scale with us!” says the leading engineer working on the project.

But our Head of Engineering just wants to bring his product to market and he needs a few more features in his PLM to get it done!

His current CAD system is very sophisticated. It does surfacing and all kinds of fancy shapes but it can’t tell his manufacturing partners if the part he needs is left or right-handed, or if enough parts have been ordered or when they will arrive, or what to do with the parts if they repair them in the field.

These issues have been lingering for years at this company.

His Excel spreadsheet keeps track of those “properties”. That was OK for pre-production, but not for a billion-dollar company in high volume manufacturing mode.

Our Head of Engineer did the next thing every Engineer does….. He Googled it!

“OpenBOM was the only one which could manage BOMs right out of the box.” he says.

We didn’t want yet another Excel macro or other tool that needed a lot of setups. We really love the spreadsheet-like look and feel of OpenBOM but with all the power of our big system and the flexibility of Excel”.

“Needless to say our company needed to bring in a lot of existing Excel data which OpenBOM does very nicely. We are not completely eliminating Excel. We still find occasions to import and even re-import data from our CAD system.”

The big thing is OpenBOM keeps our product structure up-to-date!

Our extremely powerful high-end CAD does not have an OpenBOM addin (yet) so we still need to export a product structure document in excel and import it to OpenBOM. After, we keep CAD and OpenBOM in sync using a variety of strategies – Excel and mimicking the changes directly in OpenBOM.

My team can efficiently work in parallel in a non-integrated CAD simply with two screens.

More importantly, we love the ability to reconstruct that OpenBOM provides. If you need to add or remove a sub-assembly, just one click allows you to promote or demote items to other levels. Making a sub-assembly where there was none is easy with OpenBOM.

It is also worth noting that a new, clean, import from our company’s CAD system brings in a complete multi-level product structure BOM which needs less than 5% touch-up after import.

“OpenBOM gives us what we need without the significant overhead of the big PLM system, without steering an ocean liner.”

A little more about our Company. The engineering team is about 35 Engineers, many using the high-end CAD tool to design.

Most of which are responsible for the basic PLM information of the design; Part Number, Description, Material, etc. All the usual properties which go along with the CAD role. Each of these people send information directly to OpenBOM.

Our supply line management (SLM) people also use OpenBOM to check if PO’s or RFQs have been responded to. They keep the prototype and production floor updated about lead-times, availability, and more, simply by adding a property to OpenOBM and tracking the information.

Next, our planning team communicates with the offshore team through a formal release process in OpenBOM so stakeholders around the world can easily access a complete set of information live, at any time.

We put everything in OpenBOM.

Finally, our department heads export data from OpenBOM to prepare C-level status reports and feed the production planning teams.

“If someone comes to me asking a question about when or where we are in the process? I send them to our OpenBOM admin, who adds them to our OpenBOM Team”.

Since implementing OpenBOM our Company has seen significant improvements in a number of areas. Specifically, the amount of hours spent just servicing BOM changes.

And here is a huge time saver…

“This time last year I personally spent 5 hours per week on BOM maintenance. It’s now 10 minutes a week. We see that same improvement with many of the lead engineers on the team. OpenBOM frees the team to do the other things that are important.”

In Conclusion

Our Fortune 500 company has a long legacy of manufacturing in the US and overseas and has a legacy of tools and processes within the organization. OpenBOM gave them a new way to solve old problems and a fraction of the accepted cost of legacy systems.


You may have noticed by now that I am not identifying this specific Fortune 500 company; that is intentional, they politely asked to remain anonymous. In fact, it was more of a requirement. You see, this company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on one of those big PLM systems and there are a lot of forces in play inside the company as a result.

Steve Hess,

Director of User Experience at OpenBOM.

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