Excel Is Not Good Enough For Your BOMs by Steven Chan

Excel is not good enought for you BOMs by Steven Chan

“No BOM will ever stays the same. There will always be changes.[…] A capable BOM management tool needs to be able to keep track of these changes.”

BOM (Bill of Materials) is a critical piece of documentation in manufacturing. It must contain all the information for all the components. Otherwise, products will not be built correctly and not to specification.

Although in my previous article, I mentioned that BOM should be in Excel format, this is only for the exchange of BOM data between companies with different information systems. Excel is hardly the proper management tool for the data of a BOM.

A proper and effective BOM management tool should have the following features.

Versatile BOM Import Function

Versatile BOM Import Function

Bills of materials could be in many formats: plain text, Excel, CSV, etc. A good BOM management tool should be able to map the various columns and import the data within. This is even more important if the BOM is multi-level with complex data structures. This will avoid any errors during import or unnecessary manual data entry.

Can Excel import your multi-level, multi-sourced BOM?

BOM Error Detection

There could be many kinds of errors in a BOM. They could be incorrect quantity, missing designators, incorrect descriptions, missing manufacturer info, etc. It is critical to be able to detect these errors by the BOM management tool so that they can be corrected in time. Otherwise, it will be very costly later on to remedy when the products are in production.

Can Excel alert you of errors in your BOM?

Track BOM Changes

No BOM will ever stays the same. There will always be changes. They could be changes in quantity, component addition/removal, manufacturer changes, drawing updates, etc. A capable BOM management tool needs to be able to keep track of these changes. Otherwise, the incorrect components could end up installed on the products.

Can Excel track all the changes in your BOMs?

Multiple Supplier Management

Some components may have multiple suppliers. The BOM management tool needs to be able to manage the data associated with each component and supplier. Those suppliers may have different prices, lead times, payment terms, shipping arrangement, etc. These data needs to be carefully managed. Otherwise, it will be more difficult later to manage cost structure and supplier performance.

Can Excel manage multiple suppliers and costs for each component effectively?

If Not Excel, Then What BOM Management Tool Should I use ?

Excel is a powerful tool with many uses. However, it is definitely not the ideal tool when it comes to BOM data management.

A suitable BOM management tool would be BuyManager. Within BuyManager, there is a BOM module that allows you to perform the above tasks with ease. It minimizes the work to manage the BOM while maintaining high accuracy. There is also a RFQ module that will take advantage of the BOM data to make the RFQ process much easier to manage.

About the author: 

Steven Chan

A veteran in the EMS industry with 16+ years of experience, Steven can help you and your company tackle some of the toughest manufacturing problems, reduce defects and deliver quality electronic products to your customers.
Steven was featured in the January 2016 issue of Manufacturing Today Magazine, highlighting his work on operating a world-class manufacturing facility using principles from lean, statistical control and work cells manufacturing.