Remote BOM Access Makes Work as Easy as Hitting a Button

February 21, 2018 Altium Designer

B&W image of a remote control

 

 

It seems like you can’t purchase any electronic device anymore without it coming with a remote control. TVs, radios, and computers all have them, and you can even find them on fireplaces and air conditioners. This is not a complaint, I love having the ability to control things remotely. I have enough years behind me that I remember having to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel. In my opinion the more remote control the better off you will be.

 

We are also seeing more remote applications in the workplace as well. Last night I watched a commercial on the development of remote robotic surgeons that would enable doctors to be able to work on trauma patients that are too far away for normal treatment. This got me to thinking about how remote applications such as bill of materials (BOM) access could help us with the PCB design process as well.

 

We’ve already seen how a great many people are now working remotely from home or other locations in our industry. The next step is to change how our design software works so that we can more easily interact with our designs remotely. Instead of simply working on our laptops and then sending the design files back to the corporate server, what if we could log in remotely to the design database and make changes in real-time?

BOM Access 20,000 Feet in the Air

This first thing that comes to mind when talking about the benefits of working remotely is to be able to work while you’re traveling. If you haven’t done a lot of business travel before, it may seem glamorous at first. After a while, though it can become tedious and even stressful, especially if you’ve got work waiting and you’re stuck on a plane. It used to be that even if you could open your laptop in a cramped airline seat, you were stuck with working offline.

 

With the network connectivity options that are now available to you in-flight, you can connect to your database and do some real-time work. Being online and connected allows you to make changes to your database without having to wait until you get back to the office. The next time that the guy next to you is snoring and the 3-year old behind you is kicking your chair, you might really appreciate being able to focus on some real work.

 

Man working on a laptop while on a plane

Remote BOM access will give you productive work time while traveling

Immediate BOM Access to Address Time Critical Problems

Travel is only the beginning of the benefits that remote BOM access can give you. Remember how an eleventh-hour critical design change came to a grinding halt because key personnel were out of the office and not available to contribute to the decision process? With remote BOM access, those people can log on wherever they are at in order to help out.

 

Another crisis that can happen is prototype problems that show up at the most inopportune times in the field. There may be a product demonstration at a customer site or a trade show that is coming up that is in jeopardy because of a part failure. Instead of relying on phone calls to relay component and other design information, remote BOM access would give field technicians the immediate access that they need to address the problem.

 

Picture of Active BOM screen

Remote BOM access will connect you to the data you need when the work needs to be done

 

Support, Reviews, and More

Moving on from those types of heroic saves, remote BOM access would also allow greater access to technicians to help with global support. Instead of relying on spreadsheets, parts lists and even printed material, technicians would full access to the bill of materials through their remote access.

 

Even in product reviews, having access to the BOM remotely could mean the difference between guessing at which components are being used and knowing for sure what is in the actual design data.

 

Let’s also not forget that having remote BOM access will give your engineers much more flexibility when working remote. Whether your personnel are working flex schedules, from home, or even from a beach in Barbados, this can be a huge advantage to your design cycle. With remote access there no longer is any reason to restrict your design schedule to regular office hours. Your personnel can work with the actual design data when the work needs to be done.

 

Does remote BOM access like what we’ve talked about here sound like it could be a helpful solution for your design department? If so then Active BOM, the BOM management solution with remote access in Altium Designer 18, might be the answer that you are looking for. Find out more information by talking to an expert at Altium.

About the Author

Altium Designer

PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

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