Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment

Downloads

Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • PCB DESIGN SOFTWARE
  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool

  • NEXUS

    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • CLOUD PLATFORM
  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • COMPONENT MANAGEMENT
  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PRODUCT EXTENSIONS
  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • EMBEDDED
  • TASKING

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • TRAININGS
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • ONLINE VIEWER
  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use

    ALTIUMLIVE

    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Downloads

    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    PCB BOM Creation as a Living Document

    Altium Designer
    |  October 6, 2017

    Young man lost with phone GPS

    The other day my son bought himself a new phone because the navigator in his old phone was defective. Every time that he used the old phone for directions, he would end up getting lost. Although taking the time to get a new phone wasn’t in his plans, he could no longer afford wasting time trying to figure out where he was and where he needed to go next.

    His difficulties reminded me of the problems that I’ve seen in some PCB design groups where the design staff struggle with the creation of a bill of materials. Following the right steps for creating a should be as straightforward as following a map to your intended destination. But if the process has problems, the efforts to create a correct can be as frustrating as going west on the freeway when you were trying to go east.

    Let’s look at what a bill of materials is and how it is traditionally created in the PCB design process. Next, we’ll examine how a PCB created as a living document is different from the standard method of creation. Then we’ll discuss why creating a as a living document is a huge advantage to the design process.

    What is a PCB and how is it created?

    The PCB design that you create will need a list of to identify what and how many components are needed to be attached to the board during manufacturing. This list is known as the “bill of materials”, or “”.

    The document is created as the PCB is being designed according to these steps:

    1. As design engineers add to the schematic, those are added to the by the engineers or other members of the design team.

    2. As are changed or deleted on the schematic, the is continually updated by the design team.

    3. When the schematic is ready for layout, the is updated with the component reference designators from the schematic.

    4. After the layout is complete, the schematic is updated with reference designators that have been renumbered in the layout. Those updates are then updated to the .

    5. At any point in the design process when design updates require part changes, those changes are updated to the as well.

    6. Once the design is finalized, the is compared to the layout and the schematic to verify that it is complete and correct.

    As you can see, this is a complex process that is dependent on error-free manual input. The use of management tools can eliminate the manual input and automate the creation of the as a living document.

    Picture of a laptop with paper file folders coming out of it
    Bill of materials can be better managed online as a living document

    Automated creation as a living document

    management tools automatically compile the bill of materials data as a living document while the design is in progress.  This gives you immediate access to the current at any point during the design process.

    In addition to an automated bill of materials report, management tools will give your company many other advantages. Engineering and purchasing will benefit from online part requests and access to real-time part information. Your manufacturing group will avoid delays by having new part inventory on hand and ready for assembly. In fact, your entire company will profit from the improved communications that these tools provide.

    All of these benefits are tied through the same system directly into the creation of a bill of materials. Engineering part requests get automatically transferred to the , as well as the quantities and values used in the schematic. Reference designators are also sent to the and then are automatically updated after design changes.

    The creation of a bill of materials by management tools replaces many different manual tasks with one automated system. Here is how that system can help you and your design process.

    Picture of team gathered around a computer being successful
    PCB ’s created as a living document can help assure your team’s success

    The advantages of PCB automatically created as a living document

    The traditional method of manually creating a , along with all of the edits and updates that go along with the process, are prone to error. There can be mistakes with data entry, design changes could be forgotten, or final verifications get missed. With automatically creating a as a living document, these potential problems can be eliminated.

    1. that are added, changed, or modified on the schematic are automatically updated to the in real-time without human interaction.

    2. Component reference designators are automatically added to the and are continually updated to reflect changes made in the layout.

    3. Final verification to check for human data entry error is not required as the has been updated automatically from the schematic and layout data.

    Just as a faulty map can slow your trip down by getting you lost, a faulty creation process can slow down your design and manufacturing processes with costly errors. With the created as a living document within the management tools, you will free yourself from these errors that can happen with a manually created document.

    Whether you’re looking to optimize the way your organization handles information or to update your design software, Altium will be sure to fit your needs. By using Altium ’s technology, you’ll have some of the most advanced solutions at your fingertips.

    About Author

    About Author

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

    most recent articles

    Back to Home