Bill of Materials: the Lifeblood of Manufacturing Companies

Lionel Grealou Manufacturing MES PLM 2 minutes

The lifeblood of manufacturing companies is the Bill of Materials (BoM). Simply put, a BoM is the list of assemblies, parts and components that make up a system and that are required to manufacture a product. A BoM is usually in a hierarchical structure (or ‘assembly tree’), with the topmost root level showing the brand or end product, and the bottom level (or ‘leaf node’) displaying individual items and materials. From a bottom-up perspective, it links component pieces to a major assembly, while from a top-down perspective, it breaks apart each assembly or sub-assembly into its component parts.

There are different types of BoM depending on their usage, typically: the engineering or ‘as designed‘ (EBoM used for design and engineering validation), the manufacturing or ‘as manufacture‘ (MBoM used for manufacturing processes), the service or ‘as maintained‘ (SBoM), etc. The EBoM is critical to Product Development and Product Life-cycle Management (PLM), while the MBoM is of vital importance in materials requirement and downstream Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

The BoM of a configurable material contains all the components that are required to design and manufacture the material. The BoM contains components that are only used in specific variants (variant parts), as well as components that are used in all variants (non-variable parts).

Getting the BoM right in the first place can lead to significant cost reduction in associated design and downstream manufacturing activities:

  • Using centrally managed features and aligned product strategies.
  • Leading to improved adherence and performance visibility, improved consistency and retention of PLM information.
  • Synchronizing EBoM and MBoM.

Information consumed from a ‘single source of the truth’ can be sliced and diced as required through product-centric business analytics services that will generate bespoke data views. Critical information is to be shared and consumed across multiple functions and programmes, from shop floor to top floor for clearer accountability. Internet of Things and cloud-based solutions will enable more intelligent data points and enable ‘real time’ digitalization and mobile accessibility.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 12 February 2015.

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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