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Defusing the BOM

Calendar October 20, 2015 | User Mark B. Ryan | Tag , , , ,

Mark Ryan is a Senior Software Engineer working out of our Danish offices.

The sticky bomb of the Second World War had several faults with its design, often it failed to adhere to dusty or muddy tanks and if a soldier was not careful after pulling the pin, it could easily stick to his uniform instead of the tank. Sometimes the inherent complexity and design of business processes can incur large risks to the efficiency of operations and ultimately, be detrimental to the health of an organization.

Bill Of Materials (BOM) management can be one such risk, but resolving the challenges of effective BOM handling can be like walking through a minefield. When cross-communication between various MRP and CMS systems becomes increasingly more complex, organizations face the harsh realities of endeavoring to keep BOM management simple. What if there was a way to defuse the BOM? What if there was a strategy to allow organizations to increase their productivity, streamline BOM processing and deliver production orders in half the time – without the risk of explosions?

Resolving the challenges of effective Bill Of Material (BOM) handling can be like walking through a minefield. What if there was a strategy to allow organizations to increase their productivity, streamline BOM processing and deliver production orders in half the time – without the risk of explosions?

I was recently involved in a project for a major aerospace manufacturer who faced such challenges. More and more often, we see a common theme of issues shared across different customers when it comes to BOM handling. In particular, the complexities of resolving BOM orders between internal systems seems to be a regular culprit. Often these processes are the “bottle neck” in placing orders for customers or updating manufacturer part information, due to the manual work associated with BOM creation from several systems.

The customer in this case was growing increasingly frustrated, at how long it was taking to make simple updates to part information in their own CMS. It is indeed paramount for manufacturers to have the right tools and mechanisms in place to ensure the engineering information of parts, and the documentation of those parts are completely aligned. BOM information can play an important role in this context and the management of this information needs to be handled as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

In this customer’s case, BOM information had to come from several different MRP systems, meaning several separate BOM files being manually merged into one “super” BOM, before updates were made manually to the relevant part/s in the CMS.


Fig 1. Too much collaborative manual work in order to update the CMS system with Illustrated Parts Data (IPD) Information.


Leveraging the benefits of agile methodologies, combined with close collaboration with the customer, the flatirons team were able to gain a thorough understanding of the daily challenges faced by the customer. With the knowledge gained, the team were able to develop a clever Web application (the BOM Tool), to encapsulate the problem area, redirect it into an application and significantly decrease the complexities and manual work previously involved. BOM files could now be retrieved by simply opening up a Web browser, merging of multiple BOM files made at the push of a button, and updates made to the CMS with one autonomous transfer package.


Fig 2. Removing the complexity and manual work with the BOM Tool application.


The resulting application reduced the complexity of BOM handling, streamlined the processes involved and freed up the overflow of resources spent on the tedious task of manually merging BOM files and updating the CMS. This facilitated a more efficient business flow and significantly decreased delivery time for production orders, making the whole order process more effective. What’s more, the application is now being further developed and refined, as we can see the benefits it will have for other customers with similar “Sticky BOM” problems. We can only hope that in the meantime, further explosions can be avoided at other customers before we can roll it out for their benefit too!

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