Digital Thread: Aligning the 8.5 Enterprise Bills of Materials

Lionel Grealou Enterprise Manufacturing 4 minutes

Building Blocks of the Manufacturing Enterprise

Broadly speaking, the lifeblood of manufacturing companies is the Bill of Materials (BoM). More accurately, the lifeblood of manufacturing ARE the BoMs. As a matter of fact, there are multiple types of BoM whose usage varies throughout the engineering, manufacturing and operations / service lifecycle. These BoMs are created, managed and consumed by multiple teams and registered in multiple enterprise systems:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning: ERP systems provide day-to-day means to manage operations and related administrative functions: sales-to-cash, accounting, reporting, compliance, HR, supply chain, customers, procurement, sales orders, invoicing, distribution, logistics, and wrapping around Manufacturing with Information Technology (IT) and Operation Technology (OT).
  • Product Lifecycle Management: enterprise PLM manages the product data creation process, up to handshake with Manufacturing and ERP.
  • Application Lifecycle Management: ALM integrates with PLM, leading into Manufacturing and ERP for consolidation and continuous alignment.
  • Asset Performance Management: APM as is about connecting the industrial assets, such as machines and control systems, but also products in operations in the field, with the information systems and the people who are running, maintaining or using it.

Simplifying the enterprise to high-level “value chains” helps segregate into three categories the different, albeit interconnected, enterprise BoMs which are also referred or aligned to “digital twins” of the physical system or set of systems that they represent:

  1. The Product Innovation Chain supports the product development process
  2. The Enterprise Value Chain supports the industrialisation and serialisation of the product
  3. The Asset Chain supports the operations of the enterprise assets, product performance and maintenance in the field

The Product Innovation Chain: 4.5 BoMs

Most of the product information is gathered, created and matured within the product innovation chain. The associated BoMs are not only owned by engineering, but rather represent multiple sets of information which support the product development lifecycle. During that stage, there are commonly 4 principal BoMs that most manufacturers refer to, plus 1 reference BoM (hence referred here as the “0.5 BoM”) which is relevant to the supplier chain (customer data provided to both design-to-print and build-to-print suppliers).

  • As-marketed: product strategy, concept attributes, requirements, cost & marketing data
  • As-received: product reference and placeholders from customers (mostly relevant to the supplier chain)
  • As-designed: design model, engineering BoM (EBoM), process & engineering data
  • As-planned: process planning – also referred as Bill of Process (BOP), tooling & supplier data
  • As-manufactured: “could-build” BoM, compliance & quality data

Various checks and balances are required to ensure BoM consistency and alignment throughout the product development lifecycle and change management process, especially as product requirements evolve and mature. Comparing “as-designed” (EBoM) and “as-manufactured” BoMs allows to ensure that what was designed can be built. Running automated BoM simulations to verify the above is an important step of the product configuration change management.

The Enterprise Value Chain: 3 BoMs

Product orders are translated into another type of BoM which contains all customer specifications. Another BoM includes what is actually built based on the customer order.

  • As-ordered: “should-build” BoM, sales configuration, specification & cost data
  • As-builtmanufacturing BoM (MBoM) & assembly quality data

Continuously comparing “as-ordered” and “as-built” (MBoM) allows to ensure that what was ordered can be built to specification, accounting for ongoing engineering and manufacturing changes to be accounted for.

The Asset Chain: 1 BoM

Once delivered to customers, products and other enterprise assets must be maintained for operational purposes. Operational data is subject to service and maintenance changes. Based on the industry and type of product, data is modelled with one or more BoMs, which can for instance include specific MRO data as required in the aerospace industry.

  • As-maintained: sales, service BoM (SBoM) & warranty data

Comparing “as-built” (MBoM) and “as-maintained” (SBoM) allows to perform ongoing support. Enterprise assets will be continuously maintained; this might also be included into an “as-operated” BoM based on industrial operational requirements. Logistics requirements might also be captured in “as-delivered” BoM for further traceability, etc.

There are opportunities to link “as-maintained” BoMs with in-flight or in-field data, captured for instance from machine sensors or vehicle telematics and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This will contribute to closed loop data alignment bridges which will continue to challenge how xPLM (PLM and ALM) and ERP systems are integrated.

Continuous BoM Alignment

The “8.5 BoMs” described above typically mature alongside each-other, in a complementary manner, at different speed and stages of the enterprise product lifecycle, while feeding each other with multiple input / output data elements across a range of functional and technical requirements (ref. the “Periodic Table of PLM“). They are aligned or synchronised so that data flows from one function to another, and from one system to another. Each BoM is ideally mastered in one system. Typically, multiple processes contribute to creating and maintaining each BoMs, whose source data is stored and managed across multiple enterprise systems.

The denomination of these BoMs might differ from one industry to another, or one business to another, based on product complexity and other business parameters such as: engineering vs manufacturing driven, design-to-spec vs build-to-print, engineering-to-order vs manufacturing-to-order, expected production volumes, level of product personalisation, type of maintenance and operations, asset type and respective lifecycle.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 18 May 2018.

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.

You may also like: