How PCB BOM Management Can Reduce Delays in Manufacturing

September 22, 2017 Altium Designer

cafeteria food line





Cafeterias in colleges, summer camps, and schools are often known for serving up food that has a consistent quality and similar ingredients. For the kids who are tired of eating spaghetti with meatballs, this approach to food production is a downer. However, from a manufacturing point of view, using standard ingredients with minimal variety makes for efficient production. This is also true in circuit design. When you’re designing your PCB for manufacturability (DFM), you’ll want to use generic parts and materials and minimize your variety of components.  


In theory you should always abide by these rules; however in practice, there are times when new and non-standard parts are required for your designs.


These parts need more time to qualify, order, and stock. They may also require a change to the assembly process. In other words, the introduction of new and non-standard parts to the PCB manufacturing process will likely result in production delays. However, good PCB BOM management can help engineering and manufacturing work together to reduce or eliminate these potential delays and streamline the assembly process.


Pile of PCB parts
Parts for a Printed Circuit Board



Potential problems with new and non-standard parts

In a design flow that involves multiple departments, each group has tasks to perform when a new part is introduced. The procurement department typically qualifies a new part for price and availability and engineering the part for functionality. In manufacturing, a new or non-standard part will have to be evaluated for the following assembly criteria:


1.    Will it work with the current assembly processes, including pick and place machines and part-handling equipment?

2.    If not, will it require a change to the current assembly process, such as different programming for the assembly line equipment or hardware adjustments, or will it require entirely new equipment?

3.   Will it require assembly by hand, and if so, will additional labor and workstations be required?


Any changes to the assembly line will take time to implement. In addition, time documenting and training assembly line staff could also lead to unexpected delays.


Handling new and non-standard parts can impact the manufacturing process. This is because manufacturing needs additional time to organize, stock, and prepare the parts for assembly. If the parts are not available on time, then the assembly line will have to stop and wait until they’re ready.



Keyboard with Real-Time Solution buttons
Real-time solutions with BOM management tools



BOM management tools offer real-time solutions

BOM management tools can help resolve the problems that arise from using new and non-standard parts.


BOM management tools synchronize component handling in procurement, engineering, and manufacturing departments, by providing real-time access to the BOM. When engineering specifies a new or non-standard part, both procurement and manufacturing can begin their qualification processes at the same time. Without BOM management tools, manufacturing would have to wait until the last minute to receive a manually created BOM that has been processed by both engineering and procurement. You can see how BOM management tools give manufacturing more time to evaluate the BOM. This extra lead time is necessary for fixing any issues with the selected components. For example, if a component is no longer viable, engineering will have time to consider a redesign solution, instead of forcing manufacturing to make last-minute changes to the assembly process.


Real-time access with BOM management tools also allows manufacturing to see when new and non-standard parts are being ordered. BOM management tools give manufacturing access to the part specifications and order information, so they’ll be ready to handle and stock the parts correctly when they arrive.


With part inventories pre-stocked and the assembly processes prepared in advance, your manufacturing department will be able to work at their full potential to build a product. This will eliminate the time and money that gets wasted when the assembly line experiences delays due to unexpected problems with new and non-standard parts. For easy-to-use BOM management software, check out Altium’s BOM management tools.


Would you like more information on bill of materials management solutions? Talk 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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