How important is the Bill of Materials (BoM) in achieving the desired end result of a final product for a commercial design? Is it an afterthought? A document that is nice to have on file, but not really necessary? Or, is the bill of materials an integral and necessary portion of any commercial design and manufacturing project – one that follows the process from conception to production? I’m willing to bet many, if not most, would concede the latter.

Levying the significance of the BoM, it should be no great surprise that errors in this document can spell out big problems in the grand scheme of things. If not caught in time, some problems can be felt not only interdepartmentally, but also by the end-user. Here are just some of the dilemmas inaccurate BoMs can cause:

  1. Wrong Component Quantity/Inaccurate Inventory – Inaccurate inventory can lead to stalls in production, adding valuable time to the overall product design cycle.
  2. Missing Component on BOM – Missing components on BoMs are also antecedents of costly time expenditures.
  3. Incorrect Costing of Product/Accounting Variances – Errors in costing impact your overall Return-On-Investment. The consequence for this sort of problem can be widespread and affect many departments within your organization. Large enough costing discrepancies can even lead to layoffs.
  4. Production of Out-of-Spec Units – The production of Out-of-Spec units can lead to rejection of product batches. As you know, this can have a number of repercussions including setbacks in the production cycle, loss of incoming jobs, or as we’ll see below, dissatisfied end-users.
  5. Potential Product Liability Claims and Customer Returns – Products not made to specification as a result of inaccurate BoMs that go unnoticed could open you up to some pretty precarious issues. Customer returns and recalls to name a couple. Thinking back to current events, (exploding cell phones), big name companies are spending large amounts of money to put procedures in place to protect them from potential liabilities in the future. A customer getting injured while using your products opens the door to the L-word (lawsuits). Verifying the accuracy of your bill of materials could be a much less expensive alternative to protecting your company from liability claims.

If your company has struggled with keeping an accurate BoM, you may want to consider bringing in extra help to manage it. Several companies offer Product Data Management software designed to automate much of the product documentation process, including the generation of BoMs using product manufacturing information. This type of software mitigates the element of human error when creating bills of material. Some versions of this software even allow for the creation of customized BoMs for different departments. For example, the accounting department receives the same information as the engineering or manufacturing department, but in a format that makes better sense for their processes.

If you are interested in finding out more information on implementing a product data management system to alleviate the stresses of inaccurate BoMs and other documentation, contact our SOLIDWORKS product specialists.


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