Northumbria University Newcastle – OpenBOM for Smart Home Assets Management During Ph.D. Study

Northumbria University Newcastle
Northumbria University Newcastle

Graham Coulby is a Computer Scientist and Ph.D. student from Northumbria University, sponsored by Ryder Architecture to research personalized approaches for measuring indoor environmental quality, health, and wellbeing.

With a strong focus on Building Information Management (BIM) and digital architecture, he uses OpenBOM to organize his many projects and prototypes.

Graham is part of an intensive Industrialization Innovation Program funded by the European Regional Development Fund and small to medium-sized enterprises, which is designed to foster Ph.D. students.

“My Ph.D. work looks at IoT hardware and Smart Home technologies with a focus on well-being”, says Graham. 

As Graham’s extensive list of projects and devices began to grow he quickly discovered that he needed something to help organize and procure components.

“I needed an asset manager and the generally accepted options were simply too expensive and had too much overhead to implement as part of my agile approach.”

“Oddly, had it not been for Covid-19, I may have never discovered OpenBOM because I needed a mechanism that supported me whilst working from home. and I needed something quick and easy to bring online”, says Graham.

“My first project was Arduino-based. Relatively simple but I needed to quickly manage my inventory of parts, tools, and resources. I quickly had them all very well organized in OpenBOM.”

Next, Graham needed to buy sensors for his project and he ran into the same trap he had been working to solve for his big BIM clients….. He didn’t know where his inventory was.

“I easily found OpenBOM online and explored the free trial and found it really easy to get started! Everything was in an intuitive place. I was able to quickly copy/paste from Excel and adjust the workflow to meet my needs.”

“I was also really happy to find that, as a student, I qualified for the non-commercial Free license to the full product!”

Shortly I was able to make my own data structures (as Catalog properties) that were specific to my needs. Each Catalog differed based on the device type. For example, for microchip catalogs, it makes sense to track the number of pins in a column, but not needed in my IoT sensor, structure items, or tools.  

“I absolutely love the BOMs and Items dashboard. It’s configurable and I can see images on the landing page. And I love the easy link to a schematic as a reference”.

Finally, as Graham developed the specifics of his Catalog and BOM structures he began including specific property references for online manuals, documentation, and other specs which were typically hard to associate with a purchased item. OpenBOM does that easily.

“In the end, I must say my favorite feature of OpenBOM is how easily I can track my inventory and on-hand quantities. I am on a budget as part of my Ph.D., being able to see my inventory at a glance means I don’t over-buy, at the start of a project I understand what I have in stock and what I need to buy.”

“The Catalog function hands down is a life-saver”, says Graham. “The visual dashboard and quantity on hand let me quickly start a new device”.

“In many ways, it shares similarities with BIM asset management systems I have used in the past, but more suited to the scale of my projects.”

“When I started this project I literally took OpenBOM on as an experiment to see if it would save me time, and it did, tenfold!”

To learn more about Graham Coulby and his projects please visit:

Everything architecture | Ryder Architecture

To learn more about OpenBOM please visit

To the top