19 Replies Latest reply on Jul 6, 2018 10:52 AM by Craig Merrifield

    Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM

    Craig Merrifield

      We are trying to nail down a process for managing both Engineering Bills of Materials and Manufacturing Bills of Materials using SolidWorks PDM Professional and I am seeking wisdom from my fellow PDM admins and users. The solutions illustrated below include the use of many of the following functions in PDM Pro. Please note that a solid understanding of these functions is necessary to make sense of the rest of the post…

      • SolidWorks Computed BOM
      • SolidWorks Dummy Parts (SW parts with no features/content, but include custom properties)
      • PDM Paste as Reference (to relate non-SW files to the assembly or components in the computed BOM)
      • PDM Virtual files
      • PDM “Items” (PDM Item Explorer)
      • PDM Named BOM

       

      Initially we plan to create the Engineering BOM which is intended to be all inclusive. The structure of the BOM will include any/all documentation related to the product including basic things like models and drawings, but additionally things like material specifications, manufacturing assembly instructions, product instruction sheets, graphics, legacy CAD files, labels, adhesives, packaging materials, etc…

       

      The Manufacturing BOMs that we’ll create are simply a sub-set of data from the Engineering BOM (only what is actually needed to build the product on the manufacturing floor). The creation of these Manufacturing BOMs will always follow the creation of the Engineering BOM. The Manufacturing BOM could then be exported to ERP/MRP system.

       

      Facts:

      We ARE using configurations in parts and assemblies

      File names cannot be based on part number because our configurations represent one part number per configuration. If each file contains multiple part numbers, the file cannot be named on this basis. Instead file names are based on a serially generated number for each file. Configurations ARE named based on the part number. Configuration specific tabs are used to contain the relevant information for each part number.

      We ARE using drawings with tabulations

      File names cannot be based on part number because our tabulations each represent one part number. If each file contains multiple part numbers, the file cannot be named on this basis. Instead file names are based on a serially generated number for each file (same as above). Each tabulation is given a new sheet on the drawing (blank sheet). Each sheet is named based on the part number. Sheet specific tabs are used to contain the relevant information for each part number.

      We ARE NOT using lines added to Named BOMs as that information is not searchable using PDM search tools.

       

      Challenges:

      • Paste As Reference (PAR) is not configuration specific. The file reference creates a file level relationship, but not at the configuration specific level.
      • Circular references can occur if a PAR is used to create relationships to between SolidWorks files that may or may not be desired in the natural Computed BOM. (I am aware that this is bad practice and is not recommended)
      • Quantities of some materials need be fractional or less than “1”. For instance, if paint is used, the quantity of might be 2.5 ounces. I am not aware of a way to reflect a partial number quantity using PAR relationships, “Item” relationships, or even with Dummy Parts.

       

      Essentially, we are trying to decide between two strategies that we’ve assembled. I’ll do my best to outline them below.

       

      Strategy 1 – Computed BOMs

      Building the BOM Structure:

      Start with the computed BOM that is naturally created when a SolidWorks Assembly is built. Use PAR to attach file references to the SolidWorks Assembly and Parts. Using PAR allows us to leverage the Computed BOM structure by attaching additional files (along with relevant data) to it. Once all PAR relationships have been created, the Computed BOM becomes the backbone of the Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs. Use of PAR is required in strategy 1 to create the BOM structure. In the case where a file does not exist, PDM Virtual files can be used to store data (in the datacard). This could be a permanent file in the BOM structure or simply a placeholder until the desired file is completed.

       

      The Engineering BOM:

      Once the Computed BOM is fully populated with PAR relationships, a PDM Named BOM will be created (as the final level) to manage quantities as they CAN be manually adjusted to partial numbers here.

       

      The Manufacturing BOM:

      Once the Engineering (Named) BOM is completed, it can be copied to create the Manufacturing BOMs. Quantities can be adjusted and items that need to be removed from the BOM can be “hidden” (the line is “hidden” as it cannot be deleted). Multiple Manufacturing BOMs may be created as we have several manufacturing locations and assembly processes sometimes differ from site to site. One challenge faced here is the behavior of the Named BOM when updates occur. When an update occurs in a Named BOM, any lines that have been “hidden” reappear. This forces the user to re-hide the undesired lines.

       

       

      Strategy 2 – Item BOMs

      Building the BOM Structure:

      Start with the computed BOM that is naturally created when a SolidWorks Assembly is built. Paste As Reference (PAR) can be used in Strategy 2, but is not required. PDM “Items” are created for each part in the BOM. Natural references that exist in the computed BOM can be inherited at the “Item” level and new “Item” relationships will be added manually with the other “Items” to create the “Item” BOM structure. These “Items” can be tied to files in PDM and can have data propagated to the “Item” data card from the file, or they can be stand alone with no tie to a file in PDM. (Our preference is that every “Item” is tied to a file, virtual files are acceptable.) The completed “Item” BOM becomes the backbone for the Engineering BOM and Manufacturing BOMs.

       

      The Engineering BOM:

      Once the “Item” BOM is fully constructed, a PDM Named BOM will be created (as the final level) to manage quantities as they CAN be manually adjusted to partial numbers here.

       

      The Manufacturing BOM:

      Once the Engineering (Named) BOM is completed, it can be copied to create the Manufacturing BOMs. Quantities can be adjusted and items that need to be removed from the BOM can be “hidden” (the line is hidden as it cannot be deleted). Multiple Manufacturing BOMs may be created as we have several manufacturing locations and assembly processes sometimes differ from site to site. One challenge faced here is the behavior of the Named BOM when updates occur. When an update occurs in a named BOM, any lines that have been “hidden” reappear. This forces the user to re-hide the undesired lines.

       

      Alternative - One alternative method here would be to copy the “Item” BOM (with a new “Item” name) and remove unneeded “Items” to create a Manufacturing “Item” BOM. Then a Manufacturing Named BOM would be created to manage the quantities, but unneeded lines would not need to be hidden in the Named BOM as they were managed at the “Item” BOM level thus eliminating the challenge alluded to above.

       

       

       

      Are any of you all managing BOMs in PDM to this extent? If so, I would be greatly interested to hear your process.

       

      If anyone made it to the bottom of this post, understood it, and are still awake, I commend you.

       

      Thanks in advance for any input,

       

      Craig Merrifield

      Aka Merf

        • Re: Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM
          Seckin Uslu

          Solıdworks PDM Premium is coming. It will have EBOM and MBOM.

           

          When does SW think to release EPDM Premium?  Unfourtunately i dont know

          • Re: Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM
            John Layne

            Disappointing lack of response to the original question.

             

            Curious as to what you ended up doing?

             

            We now have PDM Pro, but are still managing Manufacturing BOM's in Excel. Main reasons for using Excel, historic, our manufacturers are in China and don't have access to PDM, manually adding items to named BOM's is too time consuming.

             

            John

            • Re: Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM
              Jason Lackey

              Hi. Can you give me some insight as to how you were able to  create "Items"?  I have tried setting up Item cards, but it keeps changing it to a template card when I hit the save button.  I would like to start using them for a similar purpose, but the documentation in the help files are less than helpful when it comes to actually creating Items.

               

              Thanks

               

              SWx 2017 Sp4.1

              SWx 2017 PDM Pro

                • Re: Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM
                  Craig Merrifield

                  Hi Jason, sorry for the lack of response. Somehow I didn't notice your question (never got notified?)

                  In any case, the first step in using PDM Items is to make sure you have the Item Explorer installed (an optional part of the SolidWorks installation). Once that's installed, you'll have an additional button on your interface to access the Item Explorer. You'll do all of your Item interaction from here including building of Item Structures (BOMs). Items can be run through workflows, have datacards, and can have files in PDM associated with them which can be used to populate information on the Item's datacard if desired. This means that categories, workflows, datacards, etc, all need to be modified/updated/added to include handling of Items.

                   

                  I'd definitely recommend setting it up in a sandbox vault to experiment with and learn about them.

                   

                  Best regards,

                   

                  Craig Merrifield

                  Aka Merf

                • Re: Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM
                  Craig Merrifield

                  For those of you who have shown interest in the topic, I thought I would provide an update:

                   

                  We are still stuttering a bit on the launch, but I'll share where we are right now as well as a bit of backstory.

                   

                  I stepped into this environment four years after a poor (and incomplete) PDM Pro implementation. I've been scrambling for the last two years (with the assistance of a great tech at our VAR) to create a sustainable implementation. New variables, new datacards, new user groups, new workflows, etc. It would have been easier to start over...

                   

                  In the process we heavily evaluated short and long term goals for the files and data. We went LIVE with most of the new tools about 6 months ago and have had good results with only minor hiccups. One important realization that we're having after 6 months of living with the new tools and process is: you CAN have too much data...think hard about what you need vs. what you are able to maintain. It's great to have tons of data, but ultimately if you can't keep it all up to date, it becomes unreliable.

                   

                  We tried hard to balance what data we needed for each file (via the datacard), for current needs as well as preparing for future plans. We got close, but there is a bit of pain associated with the time required to type in the datafields for each file. I'm evaluating some automations to help streamline this data entry in the future, but for now its a bit of work.

                   

                  -Manufacturing BOMs-

                   

                  Many of the data fields we intended to store for each file were related to the Manufacturing BOM needs. In the process of building and testing this, we determined that it was foolish for us to copy all this information from the MRP system into PDM for each part number. It was a significant amount of data entry and in reality, this information was already being managed in another place...the MRP system. Ultimately We decided NOT to manage Manufacturing BOMs in the PDM system. I did create another way to leverage them...more on that later.

                   

                  -Engineering BOMs-

                   

                  Engineering BOMs is a whole different story and is still not implemented, but I've got two specific solutions in mind.

                   

                  Solution 1: "Item Structure" with "Named BOMs"
                  If you haven't looked into PDM "Items" (a tool within PDM Pro), you need to. I analogize an "Item" to a business envelope. An envelope can have things put in it or things written on it. This type of envelope also has a clear window where things inside can be seen. An Item can have files linked to it, it can have datafields associated with it, and it can display datafields associated with the linked file.

                   

                  Items can also be linked together to form an "Item Structure" (BOM). Items can also travel through a workflow (if so designed). Item Structures can be saved off as "Named BOMs" for even deeper flexibility.

                   

                  Things like glue or paint might be created as an empty envelope (Item) or it may have a material specification document associated with it. The primary limitation I found with Item Structures was related to quantity values. I couldn't specify .375 of an Item (whole numbers only). This is why you may choose save the structure off as a "Named BOM" where the quantity can be manually adjusted.

                   

                  We were ready to pull the trigger on this solution until I heard about a new offering from SolidWorks called "Manage". (Mentioned above)

                   

                  Solution 2: "Manage"
                  Better information on "Manage" has now become available and you'll see that it is designed to do what Items and Item Structures do, without the limitations. It adds a great deal more power to PDM Pro in the areas of BOM Management, Project Management, and Dashboard reporting. I don't want to go down the "Items" path only to find out that it's difficult to sustain and perhaps it doesn't migrate well to a newer tool like Manage.

                   

                  -Current Status-
                  I've worked with our VAR and one of their partners to build an interim solution to connect the Manufacturing BOMs from the MRP system to Engineering drawings.We've built a SQL database with four core tables:
                  -PDM Master data list
                  -PDM Engineering BOMs (currently a placeholder only)
                  -MRP Master data list
                  -MRP Manufacturing BOMs
                  All fields are queried from the backend databases of the originating system (PDM or MRP) every 3 hours.

                   

                  We've built a web interface which provides searching for an MRP part number or MRP BOM. The search result displays the part number or BOM on-screen along with a links to the associated product drawings and documentation. Once we nail down the process for creating/maintaining Engineering BOMs, the web interface will provide search access to this information as well.

                   

                  I hope you find this information helpful. I'd be interested to hear how you all manage these challenges. Please feel free to share...

                  • Re: Managing Engineering and Manufacturing BOMs in PDM
                    Andrew Schutte

                    Craig,

                    Based on the description of your process and listed challenges, I think you are asking more for an ERP/MRP system than better BOM management. I don't know enough about your requirements or challenges, but our ERP solution COUNTERPART was designed to rsolve the manufacturing challenge you are referring to.

                    If you would like more information, feel free to reply here or contact me directly.

                    aschutte@smoothlogics.com

                    616-886-1523

                    Thanks!