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Engineering Bill of Materials Best Practices for Electrical Designs

Key Takeaways

  • Implementing a centralized unique part number system in the BOM ensures consistency and avoids duplication.

  • Coordinating all modifications across various platforms helps maintain accuracy in manufacturing processes.

  • Adopting a hierarchical structure for the BOM alongside integration with ERP, PLM, and CAD systems facilitates better management. 

Live BOM is natively integrated into OrCAD X and ensures adherence to engineering BOM best practices.

Live BOM is natively integrated into OrCAD X and ensures adherence to engineering BOM best practices.

The engineering bill of materials (BOM) is a detailed list that outlines every item or component needed to build a product. This document is essential for the creation of products and also serves as a key tool for planning, cost estimation, and supply chain management. Understanding and following consistent rules for managing an Engineering BOM is crucial for efficient product production. Here, we delve into the essential engineering bill of materials best practices.

Engineering Bill of Materials: Best Practices for Optimization

Key Focus Area


Centralized Unique Part Number System

Establish a unified system to manage part numbers, ensuring a new, unique number is assigned to parts undergoing any changes in form, fit, or function.

Information Relevant for Required Departments

The BOM must cover every detail from the part number to other required characteristics to fulfill the requirements across all company departments. Potential relevant departments include hardware, mechanical, procurement, manufacturing, and supply chain teams. 

Coordinated Modifications

Ensure all data modifications are synchronized across platforms to avoid discrepancies, especially in design changes not reflected in manufacturing. When one member of a team makes a change, it should be reflected in all other copies of the BOM.

Uniqueness and Part Numbers

The BOM should solely comprise part numbers, avoiding the use of alternative identifiers to eliminate confusion. Ensure each part is assigned a unique number to maintain order and avoid duplication in tracking and referencing within the BOM.

Inclusion of All Production Items

All items slated for manufacturing, including incomplete assemblies and semi-finished items, must be accounted for in the BOM without exception. Furthermore, they should be marked and designated as such clearly for all team members to understand. 

Minimization of Complexity

Simplify the BOM by providing the most essential information for components at first glance. Specific detailed information should be available but at a deeper level. 

Mandatory Approval for Changes

Require comprehensive approval from all BOM stakeholders before implementing any changes, fostering transparency and trust among users.

Other Engineering Bill of Materials Practices and Guidelines

Hierarchical Structure

Oftentimes, a single BOM may be used for a whole product. For this reason, organizing the BOM in a hierarchical format can be useful. Start with the highest level assembly at the top and then break it down into sub-assemblies, components, or raw materials. This structure helps understand the product's architecture and simplifies the process of locating and managing individual components.

Version Control Features 

Engineering designs often go through several revisions. It is crucial to have a robust version control mechanism for the BOM to track changes, updates, and improvements. This ensures that everyone involved is working with the most current information, reducing errors and misunderstandings.

Integration With Design Software

An effective BOM should be integrated with other business systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), and/or your CAD program. Integration ensures that changes in the BOM are reflected across all systems, aiding in accurate planning, procurement, and inventory management.

BOM Integration in OrCAD X 

OrCAD X has Live BOM natively integrated and offers engineers visibility into their supply chain. This ensures engineers adhere to all the engineering bill of materials best practices. This tool provides market intelligence scores for electronic components, enabling the assessment and mitigation of design and supply chain risks. It supports informed commercial decision-making with data on over 1 billion parts, including design risk, market availability, and substitution possibilities for components.

With Live BOM, engineers can access comprehensive data such as manufacturer details, part numbers, lifecycle stages, compliance, and pricing for each part in their design without needing to generate or search for it themselves. Additionally, features like filtering and ordering the bill of materials streamline the focus on critical components, while options for substituting high-risk parts enhance the design's reliability and reduce overall supply chain vulnerability.

A key feature of Live BOM is recommending alternative parts compatible with original components in terms of form, fit, and function. This feature facilitates the replacement of high-risk parts with safer alternatives, which is crucial for modernizing older designs. It helps minimize supply chain risks, and maintain production continuity. Try out a free trial of OrCAD X now, to test out these new features.

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