The Benefits of Using a BOM Management Tool for PCB

December 5, 2018 Altium Designer

Image of thumbs up on a circuit board in BOM management tool for PCB design

 

 

I am perhaps the worst speller in the history of the world. I’m the guy who asks his wife to sign the guestbook because I’m terrified that I will mess up someone’s name or write an unintelligible comment. The happiest days of my life have been when spell checkers became commonplace in web browsers, E-mail, and word processors. Even with that though there have still been a few times when I’ve driven a spell checker to its knees with some word that I’ve butchered and watched as it waved a white flag in surrender.

 

Spell checkers and other tools like that have been designed to help us and make our lives easier as long as we use them. In the same way, I’ve found that there are also features and functions in my PCB design CAD tools that are designed to help me as well, I just have to use them. One good example of this is the bill of materials management tools that I have. For a long time, I didn’t use it until I finally came to realize how much it could help me. Let me explain.

 

BOM Management Tools that Come with PCB Design Software

One of the biggest complaints that I have had with accessory tools for PCB design systems is that they have often been from a third party supplier. Obviously, they are intended to work, but it takes a lot to install and configure them. Usually, when I need help with something, I need it now. Having to go out and get a new piece of software, install it, configure it, and then learn how to use it just takes too much of my time.

 

The BOM management tools that I am now using however come standard with my PCB design system. They are already installed with the design software and they are easy to open up and work with. In the same way that spell checking is now available with whatever E-mail or word processor that you use, my BOM management tools are right at my fingertips. I just need to use them.

 

 Screenshot of AD18 BOM, schematic, and layout in BOM management tool for PCB design

Active BOM is tied into all the tools in Altium Designer

 

It Works Well Because it is Part of the Entire Design System

Already being installed and configured for use is only the first part of what makes my BOM management tools a great deal. Because it was designed as part of the entire system, it works seamlessly with all of the other tools in my design system. I don’t have to translate data or move files and folders around. I simply invoke the tool and I am immediately able to start working with it.

 

Now the cools stuff begins. This BOM management tool isn’t just a report generator; it is actually another window into my design data. I can select parts in it and have those parts highlight in both my schematic and my layout. This makes it a great helper during design reviews or just when I need to find a part quickly. It also has a live connection with my part vendors. I can easily check for the latest information on my parts, what their product lifecycle is, their availability and pricing, and even grab the latest data sheets and specifications. And I can do this all from my BOM management tools from within my PCB design software.

 

Screenshot of AD18 Active BOM in BOM management tool for PCB design

Active BOM gives you unparalleled information on your parts

 

Put a BOM Management Tool for PCB Design to Work for You

And now we’ve come around full circle. This tool has been in my software for a while now, but it took me a while before I used it. Now that I am finally using it though, I have found that it is extremely helpful. Just as we’ve come to rely on a spell checker to catch our mistakes, I have now come to rely on these BOM tools to make my design work a lot easier.

 

The BOM tool that I’m talking about is Active BOM and it is all part of the Altium Designer PCB design system. Altium Designer also has a lot of other helpful tools like Active BOM built into it as well. There are different simulators, auto routers in layout, and even a manufacturing drawing generator that helps me to create my drawings with very little time.

 

Altium Designer is advanced PCB design software that has all of these different functions and features like Active BOM built into it. Active BOM can help you to better organize the parts in your design by giving you an additional window into your design data. Not only does it help your part organization and get online data about them, but Active BOM will also format and generate a bill of materials report to suit the needs of your different manufactures. If using a BOM management tool like Active BOM sounds like it would be helpful for your design work, talk to an expert at Altium today for more information.

 

About the Author

Altium Designer

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

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