Get the Help you Need Selecting PCB Components with Bill of Materials Software

Created: March 6, 2018
Updated: November 12, 2020

 Old ventilation fan motor

I’m in the middle of replacing the electric motor in my bathroom fan, but, unfortunately, I have no idea what to purchase. A 30-year-old ventilation fan part replacement is proving to be a real chore. I am amazed at how many different types of motor and fan combinations there are to choose from. One has the hardware bolts on the correct side, but the fan turns the wrong direction. The next turns correctly with the wrong shaft length.

You may have run into similar problems when you design printed circuit boards with all of the different out there to choose from. If you don’t have a dedicated member of your staff to do the research for you, or if you are that person, it also can be quite a chore. Getting the right part information from the schematic, finding the correct components to match the data up to, making sure that those are available for purchase, and ensuring the best bang for your buck.

Fortunately for us all, there is some help now with a bill of materials () management tool that is available in PCB design software. Not only is it part of your design system, but it will also give you the ability to connect with your part vendors as you design. This management tool can make the part selection process a whole lot easier and ease some of your component related headaches. Let me tell you more about it.

Always Know What are Currently in Your Design

The bill of materials software management tool is much more than a report generator or a list. It is another gateway into your design data in the same way that the schematic editor or the layout tool is. You can still use the manager to report your as you always have, but the tool gives you a lot more functionality than that.

Since this software is another gateway into the design, the active in the design are displayed for you in the tools. You also have the ability to add, remove, and swap as well, and all of those changes are saved to the design. Another advantage that this tool offers is that you can highlight in it, and through cross-selecting those will highlight in the schematic and layout tools as well.

Cross select menu in
The ability to cross select between your design tools is a powerful feature in management tools

Real-Time Connections with Part Vendors

Having the ability to manipulate directly from the bill of materials software management tools is a real help when organizing your, but there is more that this tool can do. It also offers a cloud connection so that you have a real-time connection with online data.

With the connection to part vendors, you can make component selections based on current data. You will have access to price and quantity information as well as their availability. This will allow you to populate your design with the that you expect instead of finding out later on in the design cycle that those are actually not available.

Picture of part selector in Active  menu
The ability to make informed part selections with management tools is a real benefit

Bill of Materials Software Puts You in Charge of Your Design

The ability to actively work in your design through the management tools is extremely helpful. Instead of using a search tool to find components or reference designators, you can use the manager to quickly look for and select the that you want. The cross-selecting functionality will help you as you design as well as in design reviews to find, display, and report any that you desire.

The real jewel though is the help that this tool will give you when selecting your PCB components. Instead of waiting to find out whether or not your selection is acceptable to use, you will now have the ability to make informed part choices while you design. This management tool will put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to component selection giving you much more control over your design.

Not only will this help you in your initial design, it will also help to reduce the amount of eleventh-hour part changes and redesigns that normally occur after you’ve been informed which aren’t available for use. I’m convinced that this new tool is a real help, I just wish that it would help me to find the right fan motor.

Does this new level of control over your design data sound like it would be helpful to you? If so then check out the PCB design software from Altium. Altium 18 is a full feature PCB design system that features Active, the bill of materials software management tools that I have been telling you about. With it, you will have the cloud connection for part data, the additional gateway into your design data, and the cross-selecting between design tools.

To find out how all of this can benefit you in your next PCB design, talk to an expert at Altium.

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