[Following is a lightly edited transcript of this webinar.]
Paul Heney: Good afternoon. Thank you, everyone, for attending today’s webinar, Selecting the Right PLM Software for Bill of Material Management, brought to you by PTC and Design World Magazine. Now, just a couple of housekeeping details before we get started. You should ask all questions related to the Webinar in the Q & A box. Answers will be asked during remaining time. If we do not get to your answer, our presenters may reach out to you afterwards. The webinar slides as well as additional resources can be found in the resource box. We encourage you to tweet with us. Simply sign in the Twitter box, and today’s hashtag will automatically be added to your tweets.
Paul Heney: If you have any questions on the ON24 system or need help, please refer to the help widget on the bottom of your screen. If you’re watching this on demand, you can still use all the features I went over, and lastly there is a bio widget with presenter information, including emails. My name is Paul Heney, and I’m the editorial director for Design World. A little background on me. I have a mechanical engineering degree from Georgia Tech, and I’ve been covering the engineering and manufacturing world for more than 20 years.
Paul Heney: I am pleased to be your moderator here today. Our featured speakers today are Jim Brown, President of Tech-Clarity and Graham Birch, Senior Director of PLM Solutions for PTC. So now I’m gonna turn the floor over to the folks over in PTC. Take it away.
Jim Brown: I appreciate the opportunity to present today. What I’m gonna talk about is really how to select the right PLM software for bill of material management. I think it’s an incredibly important topic. We’ll start with a little bit of introductions. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the research that’s behind the conversation today. And then talk about how the bill of material really has transitioned beyond what it’s been, which has been extremely critical to manufacturing organizations, but to really becoming a digital product backbone that’s much more important and profound going forward in the digital enterprise. And then talk about some recommendations and considerations for what companies should look for in a solution.
Jim Brown: And then we’ll have some quick Q & A. A little bit about Tech-Clarity and who we are. Our goal is really to make the business value of technology clear. We’re an independent research firm, and what we try to focus on is really understanding the technology but not talking so much about what the technology is as much as why it’s important to being able to improve business. And whether that’s improving operational metrics, like time to market or reduction in quality errors or whether we’re talking at a higher level about how to drive more profitable innovation and more profitable growth.
Jim Brown: In terms of my background, I often get Jim Brown the football player, James Brown, Godfather of soul or Jim Carrey. Not of those people, unfortunately, none of their skill or talent. What I do bring is a background in industry, in manufacturing, and some time in management consulting in the software industry and really working with enterprise level applications. At this point for the last 15 years I’ve been an industry analyst and have really tried to focus on this connection between business value and technology, focusing a lot now on digitalization and really looking as PLM has moved from being an enterprise level application to one that is really helping transform to the digital enterprise.
Jim Brown: With me today, I’ve got Graham Birch from PTC. Graham, maybe I’ll turn it to you, and can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and your responsibility at PTC and maybe followup a little bit about how long you’ve been working with our favorite thing, PLM.
Graham Birch: Yeah. Sure, Jim. So, yeah, my name’s Graham Birch. I’ve been working with PLM for, well, over 30 years. Of course, back then it wasn’t called PLM. We called it PDM and it ran on main frames. We got to various evolutions to get us where we are today where we have pretty sophisticated PLM software available in the cloud. So I’ve seen a lot of change over those 30 years. Right now I’m responsible for core PLM at PTC. So if I call PLM, it’s part bill of material, configuration management and change management, project execution, collaboration, search, and classification. So really all the core components of a modern comprehensive PLM system.
Jim Brown: Thank you, Graham. As we look towards the conversation today, one of the things that I want to do is bring in some of our experience, both Graham’s and my experience, but also bring in some perspective from our research. We’ll be talking about some information and studies that we did on product complexity also looking at things ranging from engineering data management through product data management and PLM and also looking at some work that we did, looking at where non-value at a time and bottle necks are very common in engineering and beyond. And I think you’ll see exactly how that plays into our conversation today.
Jim Brown: In addition to our research, this is maybe a little bit of an eye chart, but I think it’s an important thing to understand that manufacturing in a manufacturing industry is fundamentally changing. We’re seeing this digital enterprise, digital transformation going on. It’s called many things, Industry 4.0, brilliant manufacturing, smart manufacturing, many different names. But at the core what we’re seeing is this transition to a very different business, a business that is much more nimble and agile. It really is driving a different level of speed where companies are able to innovate extremely quickly and bring high quality products to market and then be able to turn on a dime to bring out a new variant of that product or a brand new innovation and do so in much tighter harmony and synchronization with both customers and the supply chain.
Jim Brown: So we’re seeing a tremendous amount of change in the industry, which I think is extremely exciting with digitalization. Think about what is important for digitalization. One of the big trends that we’re seeing right now is the concept of the digital twin and really seeing this convergence between what’s happening between the definition, the digital definition of a product, and the actual physical product in the field. And we’re starting to see bidirectional communication between those two things. So the definition doesn’t just disappear when the product goes out into the field.
Jim Brown: We’ve got communication back via the internet of things. We’ve got digital knowledge coming back, so we can understand how products are really performing. And this connection is really driving some important changes in the industry. But also giving development in RND and design and engineering is giving us this cohesive digital thread, so we understand all of the elements that go into building and designing our product. At the core of all of this is the bill of material. I mean, the bill of material has always been a communication mechanism. It’s been the way that we’ve been sharing with manufacturing, sharing with people that are supplying in the supply chain or with our procurement department what we need to build a product and do so with quality.
Jim Brown: It’s always been a communication mechanism. Now in this mode, we’re removing much faster in a digital environment, in a digital enterprise. It needs to be much more complete. It needs to be accurate, and it needs to be something that is readily accessible by all, which is really that digital backbone. So with that, before we get ahead of ourselves too much, I do think that the bill of material is fundamentally changing. I think there’s a lot that’s happening moving forward that makes it even more important. But if we step into the day-to-day life of a manufacturing company today, the bill of material is the cause of either getting things right or not getting things right.
Jim Brown: Inaccuracies in bill of material or incompleteness in bill of material shows itself in a lot of different ways. And what we find is that, as you see on some of this word cloud in front of you, it manifests itself in doing the wrong things with quality issues, with rework, with wasted time, all of the things that are really holding the enterprise back from being able to be agile, to be able to be innovative and to be able to really work extremely quickly. If you don’t have this very robust process for the building material, then it really causes a tremendous amount of issues. With that, Graham, let me turn back to you. How do you see your customers managing bill of material? I mean, do you see a consistency in the kinds of ways that people are doing things?
Graham Birch: Consistency? No, no. Definitely not. We see quite the spectrum of customer approaches to managing bills of material. We see everything from the bill of material going on the drawing to very simple spreadsheets to some actually very complex and highly sophisticated spreadsheets. I see some companies trying to manage their engineer and bill of material in their ERP system. And then clearly I see quite a few customers out there that are using the PLM system to manage their bill of material. Obviously, the challenges that come about with these less sophisticated techniques, as you’ve just pointed out, things like inefficiency, not knowing if you’re working on the latest vision of the bill of material.
Graham Birch: If you’re using spreadsheets, they’re just difficult to update when multiple people needing to make up their, you know, at the same time. You end up with errors, so not working on the latest information or maybe misinterpreting the information that’s in the bill of material. And then a lack of flexibility. With these less sophisticated methods, they’re just really, they don’t have the ability to describe the configurability that customers need to describe in their products today. So, yeah, to answer your question, Jim, certainly not consistent and a wide spectrum of choice of technology for bill of material management.
Jim Brown: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned the spreadsheets. I’ve seen some pretty colorful indented, multi-colored spreadsheets that are just really intended to capture a lot of information, but really just aren’t enterprise-class tools for an enterprise-class process. One of the things we definitely see in the status quo is that there’s a tremendous amount of wasted time, non-value-added time. In fact, one of our research reports what we’ve done is actually quantified. We see that roughly half of an engineer’s time is spent on design and innovation.
Jim Brown: The other half is spent on administrative and non-value-added time. And we actually, the chart that you see in front of you breaks down that non-value-added time into a few different categories. And you see that a lot of what people waste time on is searching for information, trying to find what is the right revision, what is the right bill of material that we should be looking for, particularly for a specific configuring, or looking for information for other people. A, you get the call for manufacture in the email, “Hey, where’s the latest bill of material?” Are recreating the information that you can’t’ find yourself trying to come up with the next revision of a product.
Jim Brown: So there’s just a tremendous amount of wasted time. And a lot of that has to do with this non-enterprise class approach, people using documents, spreadsheets, maybe just pulling the bills of material directly from CAD and using a very drawing centric approach and managing those in ways, whether it’s a shared drive or maybe it’s moved from a shared drive to using a cloud sharing environment of some sort. But I think the key, really, is that it’s not done in a methodical way that is up to par with today’s digital enterprise. Part of the problem, too, is that as these processes haven’t necessarily matured in some companies, the problem has gotten harder.
Jim Brown: The complexity and what the bill of material needs to cover is really just far more than it used to be. We have something we call the five dimensions of product complexity. It’s something that we use to communicate, some of the changes that we’ve seen in the market for products over time. They really are not just product. I mean, you see things like mechanical complexity is, we’ve got new materials for example. But we also see a lot of complexity of increased amount of electronics and software and products, what you would call mechatronics products moving to I know what PTC calls smart connected products, really acting in systems and systems of systems environments.
Jim Brown: But it’s not just the product. I mean, the company has gotten more complex. We’ve got software departments and maybe corporate IT involved in developing a product now. The actual markets have globalized and gotten more complex, sort of the global-local situation companies are dealing with. So with that complexity, the bill of material becomes not only more important but also much more challenging. Graham, what have you seen? Have you seen complexity be a driver for bill of material improvements in the customers you’ve talked to?
Graham Birch: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, Jim, without a doubt. Complexity definitely a factor. I mean, we all get it, right? Products are becoming more complex. You’ve only got to look at your car, your phone, your watch, your TV, your hi-fi all becoming more and more sophisticated, easy to use, versatile. But for the product engineers that translates to, frankly, complexity. I can think of an example. I was listening to a customer of ours present not long ago. And this customer makes really well-respected, high-quality, brand name hi-fi. And in the past, they would shift a unit, and it would have buttons and dials and switches and so on.
Graham Birch: The latest one, really, if I remember right, it just has an on-off switch. So it just out of the box with an on-off switch. And all of the controls are off boarded. So they’re no longer on the product. They either go on a very minimalistic remote control off a real sophisticated control. It’s now run through an app on your hi-phone. And that’s how you drive the hi-if system. But then in addition it had a component in the cloud. So you could store your favorites, your favorite radio stations. You could stream your music services and so on.
Graham Birch: The realization that this customer had was not only is the product becoming more complex in terms of the hardware and the software, but the team has become more complex, because the IT department is now no longer a service provider. They are an integral part of the product team. I would say we see complexity in a number of dimensions, certainly in terms of the product, in terms of the diversity and composition of the team. And by the team, I would also include the supply chain. And then along with that the increasing complexity of the process.
Graham Birch: So I would say you put those things together into the mix and consider the bill of material’s been the primary means of communication amongst those team members. And absolutely I would agree with you, Jim, that complexity is a driving force to making improvements around how we manage the bill of material.
Jim Brown: Yeah. Thank you, Graham. I appreciate that.
Paul Heney: At this time, I would like to take a minute to ask our attendees a couple of quick polling questions just to get a better understanding of their needs. The first polling question we have on here is, does your company use Windchill for PLM? You may select yes, no, we’re planning to use Windchill, and don’t know. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to respond. The next question we have, do you mange your BOM with a PLM system? The options are yes, no, we’re planning to, or don’t know. I will give you a few more seconds and then turn it back over to Jim.
Jim Brown: So let’s move on to some recommendations. Our merry thing that we’re talking to companies about today is really making a fundamental shift. It’s moving away from this ad hoc document-centric, CAD-centric view of the bill of material and way to use it and really moving to having the bill of material be the digital product backbone and really being at the core of everything that happens around the product. There’s a lot of things that need to happen for that to work. Given how complex and the challenges we see around the bill of material, one of the things that we need is really to enhance the bill of material to have a lot more information.
Jim Brown: We see just this tremendous amount of rich data that you can include in a bill of material to make it more complete, to make it more descriptive and to take away any of the, sort of the interpretation that’s required by anybody that’s using it downstream but that also we need to have more mature processes associated with that. In order to get high quality, very accurate, complete bill of material, obviously you need to have very robust processes around it and good systems, too. Graham, to you, what do you think leads your customers to adopt new solutions for bill of material management?
Jim Brown: In one of our recent reports on a buyer’s guide around bill of material management, one of the manufacturers said that just getting a global wear use was their biggest driver to improve bill of material management. What do you see in your customer base?
Graham Birch: Yeah. I get the used thing, Jim, just knowing where parts are used across an expanding product line. That’s huge when it comes to updating or obsoleting parts. But I’d add to that a few of the other things I’m seeing from our own customers. Efficiency, and by efficiency I really mean time to market. That’s what it translates into. That’s a big driver. Cost reduction. Cost reduction through few errors in the bill of material. So less scrap and rework down the line. I’d also add supply chain communications. Maybe another big factor is the highly configurable or personalize-able products that our customers are producing these days. That’s another big driver for looking for sophisticated and adaptable systems in managing the bill of materials.
Jim Brown: That’s great insight. I appreciate that. What we’ve done in our buyer’s guides is look at considerations for a new solution. And clearly what we believe is that PLM is the right solution to support the bill of material management process. But it’s more than a solution. It’s more than software functionality that companies need to look for. They really need to look for the right software, and we break it down into six different categories. And we’ll talk about a few of these today, but the rest is in the buyer’s guide for you to look at.
Jim Brown: But it’s more than that. It’s also about service. It’s about implementation, integration, adoption, and support. It’s about choosing the right partner to take you through, not just bill of material as the base for the digital enterprise but also have a foundation that you can grow on to go further and then some special considerations in there. For specific industries, for people that have to order products. Graham, you were mentioning the customization and configuration options and then also this transition to the digital enterprise.
Jim Brown: So we’re gonna walk through some of these in the course of the rest of this webinar. The first thing that we’re gonna talk about is managing revisions, configurations, and change. And obviously that’s a very core requirement, but one that can be extremely challenging for companies. It’s so important to be able to have a structured process and be able to manage it in a way that everybody is on the same page, that all of the changes are communicated well, accurately, and in a timely basis. Graham, from your experience, I mean, why do you see companies choosing to use PLM for bill of material management? And I’m gonna ask you a followup question at the same time and just let you run with it. We’re not specifically talking about visualization today but can you tell us a little bit about the visual nature of PLM for bill of materials as well.
Graham Birch: Yeah. I think just dealing with the first part of the question, Jim, why do customers choose to use a PLM system for bill of material management. I think the answer to that is that the PLM system is the natural system of record for design engineering. It’s where collaboration, it’s where change management is happening. It’s where the product is evolving. But really the bill of material originates and product planning and design, it’s the most natural, flexible environment in which to evolve the design and then hand off the bill of material to the ERP system for execution.
Graham Birch: I think the fact that you brought a visualization into this conversation is interesting, because there’s no doubt that if you look at a bill of material in a PLM system, and it’s highly decorated with 3D models for all of the parts and you could see all of the assemblies, that’s a lot more engaging for end users or maybe those people who are not as closely involved with the design process. But some of those downstream functions where they can actually see what it is they’re going to buy. It’s no longer just a part number and a description in a spreadsheet or a printout, but it gives everybody a greater sense of involvement and clarity around the product that’s been designed. I would say the visual nature of the bill of material in a PLM system is transformational for the whole enterprise.
Jim Brown: Let’s do association. I always love, Graham, that you use the decorating the bill of material with additional information. It’s such a nice way to think about it. We do see that companies are starting to just manage a lot more than just technical information, technical specifications within their bill of material. There’s so much more to the commercial offering of a product in terms of what the product is, how it’s manufactured, how it’s serviced, but also the materials around it, the product documentation, service documentation. Even quality and regulatory information. There’s so much that’s involved in a product. And having all of that information in one place, this decorated bill of material, if you will, to me is just tremendous in terms of being able to fully define a product.
Jim Brown: And make sure that all of the information is in one place. And that way when you run into a change situation, you know the impact of it. You understand that if you are changing something in the bill of material, then it’s very likely going to change something in the service documentation or in the manufacturing documentation or if you switch out a part that that may have something to … That will impact the quality plan or the regulatory compliance. So all of that being connected in one place, this holistic view, is really incredibly important.
Jim Brown: And we’ve seen PLM grow to handle just this richer view of the product, more departments that are associated with it inside and outside, actually, people. But also further up and down the product life cycle and just cover so much more. So this holistic view’s incredibly important. I think one of the key things is to make sure that the product is fully defined digitally. And that’s really the only way to move into the mode that we are today where company’s are trying to design anywhere, product anywhere, and be able to move extremely nimbly in this digital age.
Jim Brown: To me, not having all that information associated, you may not have it all at once, but it’s definitely the direction to go. Graham, I know you talk to a lot of companies. I mean, from your experience what do you see companies including in their bill of material? Does it go beyond the engineering data, those core technical specifications? And what do you think is the best practice?
Graham Birch: If the bill of material is just a printout, then you really don’t get much more than the part number, the description, quantity and that’s it. The things that we’re noticing now, people are managing the bills of material in the PLM system, it’s a very rich environment. To be able to associate all of the design information for every part in the bill of materials, just associate all that from the part. So with the documentation, CAD models, drawings, factor requirements, ultimate and substitute parts, and in many cases now, customers use logic in that structure of parts, logic that will allow them to automatically generate unique bills of material for different options and variants.
Graham Birch: So, absolutely, Jim. Moving the bill of material away from just something we think of as being part number, description, quantity, and notes, and putting it in a system that allows you to augment it with this rich set of design information, it makes it a very natural and easy way to be able to access all the rich design information simply by following the bill of material structure and now you’re following the parts.
Jim Brown: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more. If we follow from having this rich information and all of the additional aspects of the product associated with the bill of material, I think it’s important to understand that there really are, within sort of the concept of product structures there are different bills of material for different purposes, whether it’s the engineering BOM that matches more how we’re conceptualizing it and perhaps modeling it. But that may be very different than the manufacturing bill of material, something that may be designed up from parts, maybe one cast part in the actual production process, and then in service.
Jim Brown: Obviously, we may have service bundles and we may have field replaceable units that are different than what might be what we assemble inside the factory. There are lots of different views of the product and different ways to support different business functions that are very important. But they need to be tying together, back to this associativity concept. I mean, you really don’t want to just have the service bill of material created from an early version of the engineering bill of material and then go off and live a life of its own. It needs to be tied back, because when their engineering changes, they need to be tied through to manufacturing and to service.
Jim Brown: One of the, Mark Mitchell who we interviewed for the report from JABEL, I thought did a great job of explaining the typical environment and the mistakes and real challenges associated with transformation that can really be improved drastically with the right systems and really by doing things in a digital way. Graham, can you tell us maybe a little bit about the importance of bill of material transformation for your customers?
Graham Birch: Yes, I think it’s critical. Jim, you’ve been in the industry for a long time, and we’ve both had all of these debates about can you have just one structure for the bill of material that works for all departments or design to manufacturing to service? And I don’t know any customer that’s managed to achieve that. And for good reason, right? So the design bill of material, it’s functionally based. That’s how the engineering team think of it. The manufacturing bill of material, it’s process based. I mean, this is how we’re going to assemble it, and assembly might happen in different plants in different parts of the world.
Graham Birch: And then there’s the service bill of material. And really the only thing that goes in there are the field replaceable units, as you said. So the multiple bills of material are a fact of life. And being able to effectively transform one bill of material, for example, the engineering bill of material into the manufacturing bill of material is a critical process. But it’s not just transformation. The real secret sauce here is the fact that the bills of materials are no longer … They’re not disconnected. So we take an engineering bill. We transform it into manufacturing bill.
Graham Birch: But they’re associative. And this is huge, because then the system has to know, “If I make a change, let’s say, in engineering, that change has to be able to ripple down to all the derivative bills of material in a completely error-free way. So when we guarantee, we get all the engineering changes reflected in all those downstream bills of material wherever you have an air gap, wherever these different views are separate, you end up with manual updates, and that’s a source of errors. So I would say, yeah, absolutely. The transformation is important. Associativity in that world of transformation, it’s super important.
Jim Brown: Yeah. Well said, well said. In terms of the associativity, that really is, those air gaps as you call them really are where the process falls down and we start to see some real disconnects. We’ve got some other things, other processes and things to look for in a PLM solution for bill of material in the buyer’s guide. But I want to move on to some of the other aspects of it as well. Obviously, all of the right technology doesn’t do anybody any good unless it is implemented and adopted successfully. And there’s some really important factors that are involved in that. They range everywhere from making sure that the solution is tailored to the industry that you’re in, that there are best practices, and nobody should be inventing bill of material processes these days.
Jim Brown: There are some well-established best practices that can work across businesses. These things should be in the software. And we talk about some of these in the guide as well as some of these special considerations. We don’t have time to go into a whole lot of depth on that right now, but I just want to make sure that we talk about that, because I think it’s just important to understand. This is not just about choosing software. This is about getting it in, getting it up to date, and making sure that people buy in to the process and are using it. Graham, what have you seen, actually, in terms of being helpful to ensure successful implementation and adoption of BOM management in the customers you’ve talked to?
Graham Birch: Yeah. That’s a great question. I’d like to make three points on that question. The first one is, as you point out, it’s not just a technology change. We’re going to be asking people to change, to change how they do their jobs on a day-by-day basis. My first thing would be, don’t forget the human element. You can have the best system in the world, but if it’s not adopted, it’s not delivering value. So training, education, awareness, building momentum. You cannot underestimate that in rolling out a new technology. Second point would be start small. I’ve seen too many project flounder because someone tried boiling the ocean.
Graham Birch: So start small, pick those early wins, and then move up. Thirdly, hire a trusted guide. There are people out there that have been through this process before. It might be the first time your company’s going through it. So the smart thing to do is to find those people who have done it before and get help. For example, I know within PTC field services we’ve got people out there who can coach and advise through this process. So that would be my three points, Jim.
Jim Brown: I couldn’t agree more. I think making sure that you understand the people aspects is critical to this and being able to do this in a way that it’s gonna be trusted and used across the digital enterprise, you have to have the … You can’t just do this in the silicon. You definitely have to have the carbon process right as well.
Graham Birch: Absolutely.
Jim Brown: Another thing that’s important, and you talked about having a guide. One of the things that we believe is that this digital transformation that companies are going through right now is a fundamental change in the manufacturing industry and one that we’re gonna see winners and losers. We’re gonna see the leaders in some markets really flounder and potentially give other companies the opportunity to come in, innovate, be agile, and take away some significant market share. So this is an important transition. And I think in many cases companies are gonna find materials. They’ll choose their PLM software vendor, and they’ll extend what they’ve been doing with them.
Jim Brown: For most companies it’s a very natural choice. Graham, you mentioned that earlier, because of the connection with all of the other elements. But there are situations, too, where the current system is not enough and companies are looking to make a switch. So as companies are making those choices, one of the things that we really want to emphasize is to choose a partner for the long-term. Choose a partner that can not only help you with a very important transition into the digital BOM and a complete BOM, but also somebody that can help you with that visualization and maybe take that visualization forward into a more digital enterprise concept of virtual reality and be able to make that bill of material a part of a live digital twin that’s sharing information with its actual, the other part of the twin, which is the physical product.
Jim Brown: And so we really do think it’s important to pick the right partner and not just look at the software. Really make sure that you’ve gotta partner along that journey that understands, and not just understands bills of material, but how it fits into the bigger picture. So with that, Graham, any final advice you’d like to give people that want to improve bill of material management?
Graham Birch: Yes. So three different points. First one is, in order to make a project like this, first of all, the first thing is have a vision. Have a vision so that you know where you want to go, and you can clearly articulate to the business what the benefits will be. Secondly is you might have a grand vision but start small. All right. We said that earlier. Don’t try and boil the ocean. Start small. Be agile, and measure every step so that you’re seeing real, tangible business benefits from every step. I spoke to one customer recently who went through this transformation, and they said, “We measure everything in three months. So we don’t have a project that runs more than three months, and if we can’t measure value at the end of three months, it wasn’t a successful project.”
Graham Birch: So small steps and agility are key. And then thirdly, get the appropriate level of sponsorship within the company. And that’s gonna vary from company to company. If it’s the VP of engineering, if it’s the CEO, the CIO, whatever it is, but it’s really important to get that sponsorship and oversight and backing from the management team. Those are my three things, have a vision, start small and be agile, and get the appropriate level of sponsorship.
Jim Brown: All great points, Graham. I’ll end with a few key takeaways here just to sort of put a bow on this. I think the key things to think about are really making the transition from the document, CAD, drawing-centric world into a digital process, really moving to enterprise class technology and embracing digitalization and the Bom as the digital backbone. Using that to really get away from the errors, the inefficiencies that can come from poor bill of material management. And to do that, obviously companies need to have the right software in place that covers the right functionality. And we broke it down into six different areas to look at that we think are extremely important.
Jim Brown: Definitely take a look at the buyer’s guide for those. But look beyond just those. Look to the full implementation. Understand the adoption. And make sure you’re putting in a holistic process that really covers more than just the engineering bill of material. As you’re doing this, we mentioned the importance of a partner that you can grow with, somebody that understands digitalization, that understands the direction that manufacturing is going. And hopefully there may be even a step or two ahead of you and some of the key things and transformations that are happening in digitalization in the industry.
Jim Brown: But prepare yourself for this change, because the industry is fundamentally changing, and there will be some pretty major changes in market share, we believe, in the manufacturing industry based on who can adopt this digital enterprise concept. I thank you. I look forward to continuing that conversation on this and to start continuing that conversation, I’m gonna turn it back to Pau for the question and answer.
Paul Heney: All right. Thank you so much for the informative presentation. We do have some time for a few questions. You can still submit your questions in the Q and A window. If you we do not answer your question live, rest assured we will followup with you. For the first question, we have, “I’ve heard people talk about a single BOM. Do you think it is reasonable to have a single BOM for the company?”
Jim Brown: Graham, I’ll take a first shot at this. And I think you mentioned this in your presentation that that single bill of material is a little bit of a myth. I think I had a slide once that showed the single bill of material is the holy grail that companies were going after. But I think it’s important to understand that it’s not about having the single bill of material. It’s a single source of bill of material information. It’s having everything in one place tied together. So different people need a different structure to the bill of material. They may need different things in it. Manufacturing may want to include tooling in the bill of material, for example. There’s no reason to have that in an engineering or service bill of material.
Jim Brown: It’s important for them to run their process. So you need the information in there to do your job specific to your role. But, Graham, you I think just drove home the point earlier about associativity and the importance is if you do have these multiple transform BOMs, they’re not disparate pieces of information. They’re connected together. And that transformation process really, first of all, ensures completeness of each in the initial transformation, but then also ensures that they stay in sync over time. Graham, do you want to add anything to that?
Graham Birch: Jim, I think you summarized that really, really well. I think the multiple views of the bill of material for different functions, that’s a fact of life at the reality that we deal with. And I think what you have to look for is how do you make that work for you. And making it work for you is having a system that allows a degree of freedom in each one of those views that ties them altogether through associativity. So I would agree with you completely, Jim.
Paul Heney: Okay. Thank you. We do have a few more minutes for one more question. The question that we have here is, “What about bill of material for products with multiple configurations? Should there be one bill of material or one per configuration?”
Jim Brown: I’m tempted to jump on that one with the traditional consulting answer of, “It depends,” which I know is probably not the answer they’re looking for. There are really different schools of thought on this one. And I don’t think that there’s one process that works for everybody in every situation. A lot of companies will create what they might call 150% BOM or overloaded BOM or super BOM and really have one bill of material that tries to cover all of the configurations and then use logic to turn on or off different pieces of the configuration of the bill of material depending on the specific configuration that’s being produced.
Jim Brown: And that can be very effective in some situations. In other situations that may fall down a little bit. And there may be reasons to let them evolve separately. Again, I’m gonna come back to the most important thing isn’t whether it’s multiple bills of material or one bill of material. It’s that it’s centralized and it’s connected. You’ve got engineering, manufacturing, and service working from consistent information that works for their needs. And there are situations where that may be multiple bills of material for different configurations. There are situations where it would be a common one with all of the options in it. But the key is, it’s gotta be in one place. And trying to do that and the multi-tiered, multi-colored spreadsheet on a shared drive somewhere that gets emailed around is never gonna be successful.
Paul Heney: Well, okay. That’s all the questions that we have time for. If you do have additional questions that come to mind, you’re welcome to email those to me. Thank you, everyone, for attending this webinar from Design World and our sponsor, PTC. This presentation will be emailed to everyone in the coming days and will also be available at www.designworldonline.com. Thanks once again to Jim and Graham for all their insights. Have a great rest of your day, everyone. Goodbye.
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